I did it! I finally made my own granola. And it was so good, and so easy, that I want to share it with you. (If you lived locally I’d really share it, as the recipe made enough for a small army.) I can’t wait for my kids to come home for winter break to help me eat it. Meanwhile, I’ll store it in airtight containers and even freeze a bunch.
Making granola was also the perfect opportunity to tell you about my favorite yogurts.
First, the granola. Yes, it's calorie-dense, but so satisfying, so 1/3 cup feels like a treat. And it's high in fiber (over 5 grams), high in healthy fats and protein (almost 5 grams), and not too sweet--at least to me. So give it a try. It takes about 20 minutes to prep (if you are not simultaneously trying to photograph it), and 20 minutes to bake.
(Modified from Meghan’s Granola at allrecipes.com and the pages of useful comments which followed.)
Ingredients (to make about 15 cups)
8 cups rolled oats (Old fashioned oats)
1 ½ cups ground flax seed (aka flax meal)
1 cup shredded coconut, unsweetened (optional)
½ cup sesame seeds
1 cup finely chopped pecans
1 cup chopped walnuts
1 ½ tsps. salt
½ cup brown sugar
¼ cup maple syrup
¾ cup honey
1 cup vegetable or canola oil
1 tsp. cinnamon
1 Tbsp. vanilla extract
2 cups (or more if preferred) dried fruit, including raisins, craisins, chopped apricots
Preheat oven to 300 degrees F. (Thought I’d add the Fahrenheit detail for those of you overseas).
Line 2 baking sheets (preferably ones with sides, but if you are really careful you could do it on a cookie sheet as well) with parchment paper or foil.
Combine oats through walnuts in a large bowl.
In a medium saucepan, stir together salt, brown sugar, maple syrup, honey, oil, cinnamon and vanilla. Bring to a boil over medium heat.
Pour liquid over the oat mixture and mix to coat thoroughly.
Spread evenly on the baking sheets.
Bake 10 mins. Then stir. Then bake another 12 minutes.
Remove from oven and let cool. As it does, it will become crunchy and form clusters. Remove yourself from the granola so you don't pick at it while it's cooling (I'm only guiding you from my own experience.)
When thoroughly cooled, add the dried fruit to granola.
Store in airtight container.
(For those of you on meal plans, 1/3 cup would count as 2 grains and 2 fats. Some reviewers had success substituting ½ cup of applesauce for ½ of the oil. If you do, count it as 1 fat vs. 2. Personally I went the full fat route and I think it’s worth it).
And now, about my favorite yogurts…
Three yogurts, three different styles. None are artificially sweetened, and all are low or non-fat. Not all will appeal to all tastes, but I’ll do my best to accurately describe them below.
Wallaby: Australian style. Okay, it’s made in California, but was apparently inspired by a trip to Australia. (See their website for more fun info.) What I like? Tangy flavor, which reminds me of yogurts of days past. And the most delectable flavors, including my favorites, Bartlett pear (tell me you’ve ever seen Bartlett pear before!) and dulce de leche, a low fat variety which feels like a decadent dessert. If I could afford it, I’d eat it every day.
Available in Whole Foods, but few other stores that I’ve found.
Chobani: a Greek yogurt, made in New York. Go figure. But its very thick and creamy texture with just-the-right-amount-of-sweetness appears to please everyone I recommend it to. And it’s fat free, for those who are concerned about saturated fat.
Get it by the case at Costco or BJs where it’s much cheaper than the supermarket.
Stonyfield Farm: They don’t claim to be from anywhere other than New Hampshire. They have all varieties (fat free, low fat and whole milk). They tend to have less added sugar than many other brands and are still quite tasty.
All three have active culture, the probiotics or healthy bacteria that help keep things moving and help with intestinal distress. (Although the companies are not forthcoming about the amount of these active cultures that are added).
So try a cup of yogurt topped with some fruit of your choice (berries, pears and banana work well). Add 1/3 cup of this yummy granola, and ENJOY. Makes a perfect, quick breakfast!