Adventures in DIY: Homemade Granola

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.

getting it started

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.

DIY granola

I decided to begin with a very trusted sourceMelissa 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.

baked, cooling

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.

mmmm, duck

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.

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11 responses to “Adventures in DIY: Homemade Granola

  1. kathy k.

    I read this blog:

    http://www.fiberfarm.com/blog

    fairly regularly, and once in a while they’ll post something that will make me think of you and Mike, like this recipe for French Onion soup the other week…

    http://www.fiberfarm.com/2012/01/a-french-onion-soup-kind-of-day

    She did one on granola a while back, which is what prompted my memory. My grandfather used to make his own granola – boy, that was a long time ago!

  2. thanks so much for the recipe! we’ve been in a breakfast rut- eating Ying’s delicious overnight steel cut oats with almond butter, honey, and sliced banana nearly every morning. this looks like just the thing to mix things up :)

    • Oh, we’ve been meaning to try those! I do love steel-cut oats, so that might be a good way for us to mix things up over here, too :)

      • made this last night and stood over the warm pan eating fistfuls of hot granola and then had it for breakfast with honey-sweetened greek yogurt this morning. amazing! i had never used coconut oil before- what a lovely, buttery flavor it gave the granola! thanks again!

        • last comment, i promise! did you use maple syrup too? unless i’m mistaken, it wasn’t in your ingredient list, so i didn’t use it, and thought the granola was perfectly sweetened with the 1/4 cup brown sugar + 1/4 muscovado.

          • Oh my gosh, you’re right – I forgot to list the maple syrup! I’ll edit the above to reflect, but there was 3/4 cup of it in the original recipe, and that’s what I used as well. Nice to know it doesn’t actually *need* it!

          • i think we should call it a happy accident then, because i really loved the granola sans syrup!

  3. Oooh, you read our household’s mind – I was just thinking about finding a good granola recipe in the hopes that maybe our very picky toddler might accept it into her meager food rotation. I second the almond butter steel cut oats. So good.

    • The Melissa Clark recipe was a great one to start with, I think. The only thing I’m going to continue to tinker with is the sweetner – probably eliminating the brown sugar and using 1/3 cup of muscovado next time around. I’ll also play with honey vs. maple syrup and combinations of the two :)

  4. Changes I made to today’s batch: used half olive oil and half coconut oil; cut the brown sugar entirely and instead used 1/3 cup of Muscovado; cut the maple syrup to 1/2 cup; omitted the flax seeds (we’re out) and instead used 1/2 cup sunflower seeds. I used almonds and pistachios for our nuts, and dried currants and cranberries for the fruit component. I thought it was at the perfect level of sweetness, though we did lose some of the nice clusters we got by using more sugar/maple. Mike thought it was good but wasn’t quite sweet enough for his taste. The tweaking continues!

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