I did not devour handfuls of granola growing up. I didn’t like it. Why? Perhaps from experiences in scouts eating trail mix of dubious origin and thinking that was all about granola. Or perhaps it was after I encountered an ingredient combination I just don’t find tasteful. In any case, I knew it just wasn’t my cup of tea. I don’t like raisins or peanuts very much, despite loving chocolate I don’t need to find it in everything, and those yogurt covered things? Revolting.
At some point during my high school years, I discovered I could tolerate two granola-ish products: chewy bars with chocolate chips and those bars that resemble hardtack but with a fleeting hint of apple cinnamon. When I finish revising my thoughts on Salt Sugar Fat, I plan to share more on that subject, for now I’ll just say granola wasn’t part of my food vocabulary.
Each morning, E creates his own cereal mix and has struggled to find something slightly sweet to add that isn’t overpowering or full of stuff (sugar, salt, and fat) that he doesn’t want. I’m not one for breakfast first thing, I look for food later in the morning (around 9:30 or 10a), add in my requirement of gluten-free and that I think milk in cold cereal is just gross and so I’ve mostly left him to struggle on his own.
We have read just about every ingredient and nutrition panel in the cereal aisle. We would often look at bags of granola then set the bag carefully back on the shelf because it either contained the dreaded 3 in high amounts or was priced higher than our weekly food budget.
I knew granola was relatively straightforward to make and shouldn’t be expensive, but it took until a few weeks ago for me to finally take the plunge.
We can thank Pinterest for all the beautiful pins that finally won me over to just try it once. I bought a bag of gluten-free oatmeal, found a bag of (sweetened, oops) shredded coconut in the pantry, some nuts and seeds (sunflower seeds and cashews) and in less than an hour I began to wonder what took me so long to try this. I’ve made several batches since that first time, with only one cup of oatmeal diverted for a hot breakfast. I need to restock all the ingredients so I can continue to make more.
What recipe did I use? I’ve merged two found in my copy of 1,000 Gluten-Free Recipes lessening the sweet (honey) a bit and using a nut to oat ratio that just seems right. First I mix together the dry ingredients (oatmeal, coconut, seeds/nuts, a pinch of salt and a dash of cinnamon), then I prepare the wet ingredients, stirring the honey into some very hot water, adding some vanilla and a drizzle of oil. Then I pour the wet over dry and mix well. I don’t think it really matters much exactly what recipe you use, find one that you like. My internet searches seem to show lots more sweet than I use, so look around. I have found that spreading the mixture out in as thin layer as possible and regular stirring is essential for even browning. I love having the power to make it slightly more toasted than anything I’ve ever seen available commercially.
Looking for more detailed instruction?
Plain Penny’s Granola
based on 1,000 Gluten-Free Recipes
Yield: 4 cups
1c shredded coconut (not packed tight)
1/2c sunflower seeds (unsalted)
1/4c cashew pieces (unsalted)
1tsp Ground cinnamon
1/4c hot water
1/4c oil (I don’t fill it all the way to the line)
1tsp vanilla extract
Preheat oven to 300°F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper of lightly coat with cooking spray.
Mix dry ingredients together in a large bowl.
Into a small bowl, first measure out the oil. Reuse the cup for the honey (tip: the oil helps the honey slide out!) add vanilla and the very very hot water. Stir until the honey is fully dissolved.
Pour the wet into the dry and mix until thoroughly combined. It will be a wet-ish mixture.
Spread as a thin layer onto the prepared baking sheet and cook at 300°F for 30 minutes stirring after every 15 minutes. Continue the bake and stir sequence in 10 minute increments until toasted to desired amount. Cool pan on wire rack.
If you are adding dry fruit, do so after it has cooled. Store in sealed container in refrigerator for 2 weeks (if it lasts that long).
Notes: Good luck waiting for it to cool, I took tasting samples straight from one of my stirring sessions (not recommended). No wire rack? I don’t always pull mine out (it’s a useful gadget around my kitchen) so I just try to time the making of oatmeal when I’m not planning on using the stove top, and I just leave it on the grates to cool. (If you have a ceramic glass top, obviously this wouldn’t work).
My recipes call for this to be baked on the middle rack. The bottom rack of my oven is special, it slides. To reduce the mess potential found in my taking a tray of tiny loose things into and out of my oven, I just bake on the bottom rack, slide it out to stir, then slide it back.
I’m looking forward to experimenting with new combinations such as including squash seeds or using maple syrup to sweeten. The possibilities are endless.
What do you like in your granola and how do you eat it?
I’m liking mine how I like my cereal. Straight up from a bowl (no milk). Since sticky fingers aren’t welcome on my laptop or in my knitting I am being a grown up and using a spoon. Sometimes I also add a handful of dried cranberries to my bowl.