Tomorrow morning my husband and his brothers are running the Chicago marathon. The guys and my in-laws have been hanging with us all week, in-and-out of the house according to their own schedules since Tuesday afternoon. We’ll be going out a lot to enjoy our city, which means a lot of food and drink that does not come from my kitchen.
Since the only thing I can really control about my diet this week without giving up an awesome time is breakfast, I spent a little extra time making sure I had everything I needed for a quick and nutritious start to the day. I purchased a large container of plain greek yogurt, a few packages of heat-and-serve turkey sausages, a loaf of grainy bread, and threw together a batch of granola.
Store-bought granola is “healthy” food, but has a ton of calories and sometimes preservatives. Also, it’s wicked expensive. A 12 oz bag of Bare Naked granola – which has a great ingredient list for us normal shoppers – will run you more than $5.00. So, I like to make my own. It’s quick, easy, and you can increase the ratio of oats to nuts a little so the calories are a little lower and the cost is a little more economical.
My Homemade Granola Recipe
There are a million and one recipes for homemade granola on the internet, and there’s no reason that mine is any better than anyone else’s. The following recipe is what I actually did this week, which had one huge flaw I’ll describe below, and was based off this recipe from Alton Brown.
Here’s what you need:
3 cups oatmeal
2 cups nuts of your choice (I like walnuts, almonds, and pecans)
¾ cup coconut
¼ cup plus 2 Tbsp. brown sugar
¼ cup olive oil
½ tsp. cinnamon
1 tsp. vanilla
¾ tsp salt – you might add a little extra or use a little less to taste
½ to ¾ cup dried fruit of your choice (we like raisins, cranberries, pineapple, apricots, etc. BUT I don’t like them in big chunks, so I cut them up small.
Extra maple syrup and olive oil at the end
Here’s what you do:
Pre-heat your oven to 250 degrees Fahrenheit.
In a huge bowl stir together oats, nuts, coconut, brown sugar, cinnamon, and salt.
Stir together the oil and vanilla, pour over dry ingredients and stir until coated.
Pour the mixture onto a jelly-roll pan (I use two so I can stir without spilling) and pop into the oven. Every fifteen minutes for one hour and fifteen minutes, pull the mixture out of the oven and give it a stir.
When you’ve done the cycle five times, pull the granola out, carefully slide it into another huge bowl (maybe two bowls if you need to), and pour in the dried fruit.
AND HERE’s where it got weird: for my taste, the granola looked a little dry and too light. It tasted great, but the ¼ cup of maple syrup I cut out of Alton’s original recipe to save calories had also cut down on the granola’s stick-togethery-ness. And so I did a fix. Kitchen fixes are things you do in the moment where there is a 50% chance you will ruin everything and a 50% chance it will be awesome. This week, it was awesome.
Turn the oven up to 375. On top of the bowl of granola and dried fruit, drizzle about 1 Tbsp. of olive oil and about 2 Tbsp. of maple syrup, Stir together and pour it back on your pans.
Bake for 8 minutes, stirring at the four minute mark. (I actually went 10 minutes, stirring at the five minute mark, but watch this carefully. There is a thin line between roasty-toasty and burned up nasty.)
When ready, pull out of the oven, stir it up one last time, and let it cool. Store in plastic freezer baggies or a cute glass mason jar.
Do you have a favorite granola recipe? Do you like your granola lightly browned or dark and toasty?