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Granola Your Way

(recipe, Vanessa Barrington)


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Introduction

There are many advantages to making your own granola. You'll use less packaging, you'll save money, and you can completely customize it to your taste and health needs. You'll never go back to store-bought. The basic ingredients in granola include grain flakes, dried fruit, nuts and seeds, sweetener, and fat, such as butter or vegetable oil. You can embellish with vanilla, coconut, and spices like cinnamon. What follows is a formula to help you create the granola of your dreams, to enjoy every morning.

Ingredients

  1. ⅓ to ½ cup fat (butter, coconut oil, vegetable oil, olive oil)
  2. ⅓ cup agave syrup or honey (if using honey, see Variation) or ½ cup brown sugar or maple syrup
  3. Flavorings (vanilla, cinnamon, ginger, cardamom; see Note)
  4. 4 cups flaked grains (oats, kamut, triticale, spelt, rye)
  5. Mix-ins (unsweetened shredded coconut, wheat germ, nutritional yeast)
  6. Seeds (pumpkin, sunflower, sesame, flax, chia)
  7. 2 cups (about 8 ounces) lightly chopped nuts (almonds, pecans, walnuts)
  8. 1 cup unsulfured and evenly chopped dried fruit (apples, pears, peaches, plums, cranberries, currants, raisins, cherries)

Steps

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
  2. In a small saucepan over medium-low heat, melt the butter or coconut oil (or, if using liquid oil, warm it) and add the sweetener along with the vanilla, cinnamon, or other spices you're using. (If using honey, see the variation.)
  3. In a large bowl, combine the flaked grains, mix-ins, seeds, and nuts. Toss to mix.
  4. Pour the warmed butter or oil and sweetener over the dry ingredients and toss with a large spoon or spatula until evenly and lightly coated.
  5. Transfer the mixture to a large baking sheet (you may need to use two baking sheets) and spread it out evenly in a thin layer.
  6. Bake until evenly browned, 20 to 25 minutes. Stop halfway through and stir the ingredients so that they brown evenly.
  7. Remove from the oven, add the dried fruit, and toss to combine. Let cool completely on the baking sheet.
  8. Store at room temperature in an airtight container. The granola will stay fresh for up to 3 weeks, stored properly. I store mine in mason jars on the counter. It looks nice and keeps the granola fresh and handy.

Note

Variation: If using honey, there's no need to heat the oil first, but you still need to melt the butter (if using). Just whisk the fat together with the vanilla or other spices and pour it over the flakes, nuts, and extras, and toss and bake as directed. When you remove the granola from the oven, add the dried fruit, and drizzle the honey over it while still warm. Toss to coat, and cool and store as directed. Note that honey will produce a sticky granola that clumps together. It's not unpleasant, just more difficult to portion as you can't pour it, and it's difficult to scoop. Culinate editor's notes: If you're a ginger fan, try finely chopped crystallized ginger instead of powdered ginger. And if you do spread out your granola over two baking sheets instead of just one, check it much sooner, as it will brown and burn much faster.