Homemade granola tastes great, saves money

By Sandy Oliver Special to the News, Special to the BDN
Posted Nov. 14, 2008, at 8:34 p.m.

Homemade granola is a great alternative to packaged cereal as far as both price and healthful ingredients are concerned.

When I read the ingredients list on the average box of flakes, puffs or crunches and find ingredients I can’t pronounce and then see how few servings it contains, I wonder why anyone would want to buy it. Granola is so easy to make that you can toss together a batch in little time and for a low cost, depending on where you shop.

The main thing is to use noninstant rolled oats. Quick-cooking oats simply don’t crisp up the way the noninstant do. You can make an extremely simple granola by merely drizzling honey, maple syrup, molasses or brown sugar mixed with a bit of water plus vegetable oil over oats in a roasting pan, and tossing it until the oats have all bumped into the sweetening and oil. Anything else — seeds, nuts, dried fruit, spices, wheat germ — is optional and extra.

When I make it, I merely dump a pile of oats into a slightly greased roasting pan; then I sprinkle on ground flaxseed, wheat germ, sunflower seeds, sometimes pumpkin seeds, and a couple of handfuls of raw cashews, sometimes almonds. Then I whisk together the vegetable oil and sweetening, and drizzle it on, tossing the oats and seeds and nuts. You can take it very easy on the oil and sweet stuff if you want to aim for granola with lower fat or fewer calories. Some people add spice such as cinnamon to their granola, but I don’t. I don’t measure at this point because I have made it so often I can judge by eye. You might want to use the guidelines below until you have some experience with it, then you can freely adapt to your oat and nut supply, too.

From time to time I make granola using a hefty dollop of all-natural peanut butter (that is, peanut butter with no corn syrup or other fats added) with some brown sugar mixed in and thinned with a little hot water until it can be poured and mixed into the oats.

Then I put the granola into a 300-degree oven, set the timer for 20 minutes, stir it when the timer goes off, and repeat until the granola is golden brown and crunchy.

You can add more stuff after it is roasted. Raisins, currants, dried cranberries, toasted flaked coconut, dried banana chips, dried mango or pineapple, you name it. My feeling is you can add some of those to the bowl at breakfast, too.

This flexible granola recipe can take advantage of seed and nuts sales, and adjusts nicely to our cash flow. If you can find your seeds and nuts only in little packages, you might be better off buying your granola ready-made or buying a plain one and adding stuff to it at home.

We obtain our ingredients from a storefront co-op. Buying oats, seeds and nuts in bulk is more easily done now than when Jamie and I were “granolas” back in the ’70s and early ’80s, in fact, you can do it at lots of storefront co-ops, natural food stores, in the natural foods sections of large grocery stores, online and by way of various mail-order companies.

If you buy toasted seeds or nuts, add them after you roast the oats with oil and sweetening. Add the fruits after the granola has cooled.

Looking for …

From my neighbor Ann Whitehouse and a friend of hers in New York, we’re looking for a recipe for Raisin Spice Oaties.

“It is a lost cookie recipe,” said Ann. Can anyone find it?

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Granola

Yields 14 to 15½ servings.

4 cups noninstant rolled oats

2 cups your choice of cashews, almonds, peanuts

1 cup your choice sunflower, sesame, pumpkins or other seeds

1/2 cup combination of wheat germ, bran, flaxseed meal

1/3 cup canola or other vegetable oil

1/3 cup honey, maple syrup or light brown sugar stirred with water until it is syrup

Your choice of raisins, dried cranberries, dried banana chips or other dried fruit

Preheat oven to 300 F degrees. Spread the oats and unroasted nuts, seeds, and the wheat germ, bran or ground flaxseeds in a lightly greased roasting pan. Whisk together oil and sweetening, adding a little bit of water if mixture is too stiff to drizzle. Dribble the mixture over the grains and nuts in pan, tossing together lightly until oil and sweetening are well-distributed.

Put into oven and check every 20 minutes or so for a little more than an hour, stirring the granola each time until grains are golden brown. Remove, allow to cool. Add any roasted seeds or nuts that you desire at this point and the dried fruits.

http://bangordailynews.com/2008/11/14/living/homemade-granola-tastes-great-saves-money/ printed on September 17, 2014