I wasn’t much of a fan of granola until about a year ago. I was born and raised in Michigan, where Kellogg’s was king and granola was strictly for west coast hippie types. Growing up, my breakfast cereal choices were pretty much limited to your standard wheat flakes, puffed rice, or toasted oat “O”s, with the occasional packet of instant oatmeal to warm us during the winter months.
Mike and I began to keep granola around when he started biking some of the beautiful local trails here regularly. A scattering of granola over a scoop of our favorite yogurt was quick and easy to prepare, and would sustain him on those long rides without weighing him down. Once I learned I was pregnant with Julian, a bowl of granola, yogurt and berries became my preferred weekday breakfast – easy on my stomach, but with enough staying power to get me through my long morning commute and into my workday. It’s what I still turn to most mornings.
While we’re lucky to have a great locally-made granola available to us from The Providence Granola Project, I thought it would be fun to start playing with our own blends. I recently asked friends on Twitter to send me their favorite recipes, and soon fell down a granola-filled rabbit hole. There were so many options! From oils to add-ins, it seemed the possibilities were endless, and I gave myself a good week to parse and plan before tackling my first attempt. We picked up a big bag of Maine oats at our new neighborhood market, and I was ready to get started.
I decided to begin with a very trusted source – Melissa Clark, and her Olive Oil Granola With Dried Apricots and Pistachios. I didn’t have enough maple syrup, so I used honey instead, and I skipped the cardamom since we didn’t have any pre-ground. This first batch was quite good, if a little flat (due to my omission of the cardamom, I’m sure), and I was eager to punch up the flavors.
So I made a second batch last weekend, tinkering with the ingredient list even more to incorporate some of the nuts and seeds we had on hand, plus adding back the maple syrup and cardamom from the original recipe. I decided to crack into a jar of virgin coconut oil that I’ve been wanting to play with for ages, using it in place of the olive oil. The result was a lovely, deeply golden and intensely fragrant granola that we just can’t stop eating – with our yogurt or just by the handful. As far as DIY foodstuffs go, making granola at home couldn’t be easier, and we’re already talking about how much fun it will be for Julian to have a hand in making his own favorite blends once he’s old enough to enjoy it with us.
Our Spin on Homemade Granola
(this borrows heavily from Melissa Clark’s recipe, linked here and above)
3 cups organic rolled oats
1 cup organic raw almonds (feel free to substitute other nuts here, or combine almonds with pistachios or another nut of your choosing – I just used what we had on hand)
¼ cup flax seeds
¼ cup sunflower seeds
½ cup pumpkin seeds
½ cup toasted wheat germ
1 cup unsweetened coconut
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
6 cardamom pods, shells removed and seeds ground with 1 teaspoon coarse sea salt (I used grey salt)
½ cup organic virgin coconut oil, liquefied (you can substitute an equal amount of extra-virgin olive oil)
¾ cup grade B maple syrup
¼ cup organic light brown sugar
¼ cup muscovado sugar
¾ cup chopped dried fruit (I have used combinations of dried plums and currants, or apricots, black mission figs, and papaya. Use your favorites.)
Preheat oven to 300 degrees.
Combine all the ingredients except the dried fruit in a large bowl, and stir to combine. Spread the mixture on a large, ungreased baking sheet and bake for a total of 45 minutes, stirring the mixture gently at 10 minute intervals. (Note: Clumps are good! You want clumps. So don’t break them up when you stir, if you have them.)
Remove the baking sheet from the oven, scatter the dried fruit over the top, and allow to cool, then transfer to a large air-tight container.