I love making my own granola because I know exactly what’s in it and I can add the ingredients I like most as a mix. You probably have noticed that if you buy really good granola in the store, it’s expensive. What’s the difference between cheap granola and expensive granola? It always comes down toingredients.
Low-cost granola usually has a lot of sugar, often in the form of corn syrup. What’s worse are the partially hydrogenated oils that are used, not to mention preservatives and artificial flavors. Healthy homemade granola does not contain TBHQ, lecithin, glycerin, BHT, hydrogenated oils, etc.. Cheaper granola also is mostly oats and very little other premium ingredients like nuts and seeds. I also enjoy dried fruit in my granola and the problem with store-bought, cheap or expensive, is the fruit often becomes hard and dry. When I make my own granola, I add the fruit only when I’m eating it. This way the fruit is chewy and fresh and I can change up the fruits every time – raisins, dried cranberries, cherries, blueberries, etc..
Healthy Homemade Granola Recipe
A basic, easy granola recipe starts with oats, sweetener(s) and some kind of fat like vegetable oil. The rest is up to you as far as adding nuts, seeds, flavorings and fruits (dried or fresh for adding later after baking). Here is a starter recipe so you can get an idea of what ratios to use. Just mix and match, you don’t need to use everything listed here.
- 2 cups rolled oats
- 2/3 cup total of nuts – walnuts, pecans, hazelnuts, almonds (sliced, slivered or whole)
- 1/3 cup total of seeds – sunflower, pumpkin, flaxseed, or sesame or combine
- 1/4 cup shredded coconut, sweetened or unsweetened
- 1/3 cup wheat germ, wheat bran, oat bran, soy protein powder, whey protein, etc.
- 1/2 tsp salt
- Spices – 1 tsp of or in combination: ground cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, cardamom, allspice, cloves or any favorite spice
- Sweeteners – You can choose how sweet you want your granola. I sometimes only add a few tablespoons of sweeteners or none at all. As a general start, add a 1/4 cup of brown sugar in addition to 1/4 cup of one or combination of honey, agave nectar, maple syrup or other liquid sweetener
- Oil – 4 tbsps of vegetable oil. I like using coconut oil.
- Extract – 1 tsp of vanilla, almond, coconut or any extract you like. Make it a natural extract, not artificial.
- Fruit – Don’t add fruit to the mixture to be baked, otherwise it gets too dry. Customize your granola serving each time with dried (raisins, blueberries, cranberries, cherries, dates, apples, banana chips etc.) or fresh fruit (strawberries, blueberries, bananas, etc.). Or just add the fruit to the entire mix after it cools.
- Mix-Ins: For an every-once-in-awhile special treat, you can also add a multitude of other mix-ins to your baked granola like carob chips, cacao nibs, dark chocolate chips, candied ginger, chocolate-covered espresso beans, toffee chips, etc..
- Heat the oven to 325° F (163°C)
- Cover a sheet pan/baking sheet with parchment paper. You don’t have to use parchment paper, but it makes for easier mixing while baking (won’t stick) as well as easier cleanup.
- Mix all the dry ingredients such as the oats, nuts, seeds, wheat germ, salt, spices and brown sugar first.
- Then mix the wet sweeteners, oil, any extracts together in a separate small bowl or glass.
- Now add the wet ingredients to the dry and mix thoroughly so that everything is coated. You can use a spoon to do this, but I like using my hands.
- Pour the entire mix onto your prepared sheet pan and distribute evenly. Note if you are doubling this recipe you will probably want to use 2 sheet pans, otherwise the layer gets too thick and won’t bake evenly.
- Bake for 20-30 minutes, mixing the granola every 10 minutes to ensure complete browning. Make sure you keep watch during the latter part of the baking time because ovens vary and your nice toasted granola can go from brown to black in a matter of minutes.
- Cool completely, then add fruit now or later as served, and store in an airtight container. I live in a dry climate, so my granola stores longer, for at least 2 weeks. Our dry air is also the reason why I like to add dried fruit as I need it, otherwise the dried fruit actually dries even more and turns nearly rock-hard. In more humid climates, you may find your granola will go stale more quickly and only last a week or so.
I enjoy eating my homemade granola by itself as a snack, in the morning with milk or with yogurt or as a topping for ice cream. How do you like eating granola? What are some of your favorite ingredients to put in your granola mix?