Saturday, April 6, 2013

Homemade Granola

Every time we make granola, I ask myself why we don’t make it more often. It’s so fast and easy to make, it doesn’t take a lot of ingredients, and it tastes amazing! Maybe the answer is that it’s gobbled up so fast that I don’t always want to have that temptation. And yet, it’s healthy, so what’s the problem?

There are lots of recipes out there for granola, and the great thing is that it’s easily customizable for everyone’s preferences. If you don’t like nuts, for example, then don’t chop and toast the nuts like we did. If you do like nuts, then add more!

We only had walnuts and almonds on hand, but I would love to add pecans and/or peanuts too – we are a nut-loving family! To give them more flavor, we spread them on a pan and toast the nuts in the oven for 5 minutes at 350 degrees before adding them to the rest of the mixture. Next time, I want to try toasting the oatmeal beforehand too!

While the nuts are toasting, mix all the dry ingredients in a large bowl – oatmeal, flaxseed, salt, and cinnamon. This was our first time adding flaxseed, and it was very worth it!

When the nuts are done, mix them in with the other dry ingredients!

Meanwhile, it’s time to start cooking the wet ingredients – brown sugar, honey, applesauce (we use this instead of butter), and vanilla. (Well, actually you add the vanilla after you remove it from the heat, but whatever. We messed up and added them all together, and it did fine.)

I’ve also heard of adding molasses (maybe instead of the brown sugar?) – we’ll have to try that sometime too.

It took about 5-10 minutes on medium-high heat for the mixture to start boiling.

Then comes the fun part – mixing it all together!

Actually, these are all fun parts, from getting out the ingredients to gobbling it up!

Just keep stirring it up until the oats are all "wet."

The recipe says to add the craisins/raisins (we did both) after the granola is cooked, but we accidentally dropped them in before. But granola is very forgiving – it still tasted great. Actually, it might have even tasted better than if we had waited.

When everything is thoroughly mixed together, it’s time to ready it for the oven. We already had a 9x13” pan lined with foil, so there it went.

Oooo, here’s another part I love – patting it down with a spatula! This way it’s nice and flat all the way across.

Then you put it in the oven!

It will be in the oven for a total of 30 minutes, but it needs to be taken out every 10 minutes and stirred around. Be careful not to tear the foil! The point is just to turn over the already-cooked top and let another part of the granola brown. And then you get to pat it down with a spatula again! Teehee!

When the fragrant aroma of granola is permeating your home and the top appears golden brown, it’s time to remove it from the oven!

Then, like it or not, it has to sit and cool for 30 minutes – an hour.

OK, so you’re shaking from the excitement of anticipation and you just can’t wait any longer… I guess it’s time to remove it from the pan! I really enjoy this part too – just lift it up by the foil, and it comes right out!

And then it’s always fun to break it up with your fingers too! Because it cooled for long enough, it breaks apart in clumps.

I’m not a yogurt-lover, so my favorite thing to add the granola to is applesauce!

Ummm... I think next time we need to double the recipe!

What are your favorite granola add-ins?

Homemade Granola (recipe adapted from Food Network)

2 cups oats

1 cup flaxseed

1 cup sliced almonds

1 cup walnuts

1 tsp. cinnamon

¼ tsp. salt

4 tbsp. applesauce

¼ cup brown sugar

¼ cup honey

1 tsp. vanilla

½ cup raisins

½ cup craisins

  1. Preheat oven to 300 degrees. Line a 9x13” baking pan with foil and spray with non-stick cooking spray. Toast nuts and/or oatmeal in oven for 5 minutes if desired.
  2. Mix oats, nuts, cinnamon, and salt in a large bowl.
  3. Combine applesauce, brown sugar, and honey in medium saucepan over medium heat, stirring until mixture begins to boil. Add vanilla and stir; remove from heat.
  4. Pour over dry mixture, stirring until well-coated. Transfer to pan and, using a spatula, press oats evenly into pan.
  5. Bake until top is golden brown (25-30 minutes), stirring every 10 minutes or so. Transfer pan to rack and cool for 30 minutes – 1 hour to make it crispy.
  6. Using the foil as an aid, lift out of pan and crumble into pieces, mixing in craisins and/or raisins.

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