For me, nothing starts my day right like a bowl of plain yogurt mixed with a heaping mountain of granola. I’m not an egg person, so for me to find an everyday breakfast food such as this, I felt like I had finally achieved a feat equal to Sir Edmund Hillary reaching the top of Mount Everest. After this revelation, I was at the grocery store every week, poring over the cereal aisle, reading each ingredient on every granola box trying to find one with the least amount of sugar, the best combination of nuts and raisins, the least-processed brand, and especially recently, just whichever one was cheapest by the pound.
I don’t know why I didn’t start making my own granola earlier, but several months ago a fellow granola-loving friend passed along a family recipe that she had just acquired. I tried it, it blew my mind, and I’ve been making it regularly ever since. As I sit here, chewing on my little nibbles of oats and juicy bursts of raisins, I cannot stress how great it is to know what your food is made of and how it was prepared. Aside from the yum-factor, it’s especially cost-effective. Each batch of this recipe makes about 8-10 cups and will last around two weeks…errr, or one, if you’re really a granola fiend like me and sometimes eat yogurt & granola for two meals in the day. I like to buy a lot of my nuts and seeds in bulk, especially from Trader Joe’s, which usually has the yummiest and cheapest around.
Without further ado, I’ll get along to the recipe.
4c – old-fashioned oats
4c – combined of some or all of the following: wheat germ, flax, sesame seeds, sunflower seeds, almonds and/or pecans, and/or walnuts, raisins and/or cranberries and/or cherries and/or blueberries. (I have found the perfect combination of these to be: 2/3c wheat germ, 2/3c flax seed, 2/3c sesame seeds, 1/2c pecans, 1/2c walnuts, 1/2c pepitas (aka toasted pumpkin seeds), and 1/2c golden raisins)
dash – cinnamon
dash – salt
2c – orange juice
2/3c – maple syrup
1/3c – honey
1/2c – canola oil
Preheat oven to 300 F.
Mix all dry ingredients – oats, seeds, dried fruits, etc., together in a large bowl. Add cinnamon and salt to taste.
On the stovetop heat the orange juice, maple syrup, honey, and oil in a small saucepan until combined and smooth. Whisk together like a dressing. Pour ‘dressing’ over rest of the dry ingredients and fold everything together. The mix will be rather sticky and slightly wet, almost like an oatmeal cookie dough.
Line 2-3 baking sheets or pans with foil, and spread the granola mixture thinly and evenly between the sheets. Bake in the oven for about an hour and a half, stirring and checking every 20-30 minutes. The longer the granola is in the oven the crunchier it will be, so bake for as long as it suits you tastes. I have found that in my oven, the perfect cooking time for my preferences is between 1 hr. 15 min – 1 hr. 30 min. Baking for less time gives me a nice chewy granola, and baking longer a lovely nutty, crunchier granola , both of which I like, depending on my mood.
Leave out to cool for at least 30min, usually an hour or so (the longer the better). Stir around the granola with your hands and break up the larger chunks if you prefer. Make sure the granola is completely cooled and dry before you store in airtight containers or ziplocs.
The result? After one hour or so of baking and about an hour or so to cool and set, I had perfectly nutty, slightly chewy, not too-hard, not too-sweet, perfect with plain yogurt granola. I love this because it is so easily customizable to suit one’s needs. Your first batch will be a scary one to make I’m sure, but by the time you’ve made your second or third batches, you’ll know exactly how many oats you like to use (I like oatier granola), any modifications you want to make (I used olive oil instead of canola oil last time, yum!) and will even take some risks with how long to bake the recipe (I’ve definitely baked for two hours before, hello crunch factor!). I guarantee you, this recipe is definitely going to get some good use. I encourage you to spread the granola love with your friends too!