Monday, November 5, 2012

Monday Munchies: Homemade Granola

With our heart healthy lifestyle changes were required in all our meal habits.  Breakfast was a biggie.  Rob ate what he called the breakfast of champions, a six pack of chocolate mini donuts and a Mt. Dew from his favorite convenience store.  The good thing about this breakfast choice was that improvement was a given.  It's hard to come up with a less nutritious breakfast choice.  The kids and I usually did better for breakfast, mostly because we had more time.  Pancakes, eggs, muffins, scones, cereal, yogurt, fruit. 

As Rob changed his diet and started looking for easy before work breakfast food he discovered he enjoyed Cracklin' Oat Bran cereal and granola.  The challenge was keeping granola around that everyone enjoyed and at $4+ per box that can get pricey pretty quickly.  This child didn't like coconut.  That one hated raisins.  You get the idea.

Imagine my surprise when it occurred to me that I could make granola.  My sister made granola for years so I asked for her recipe and promptly misplaced it.  Instead of asking her to send it again I went on a search.  After seeing her recipe, I knew I was looking for several things in my granola recipe.  The first was to minimize the stirring.  The second to maximize the amount of granola so I could make it less often.

I found "my" granola recipe at The Finer Things in Life.  Of course, I'm unable to follow a recipe and granola is perfect for ad-libbing.  I'll give you my recipe at the end of the post.

The first thing you need for this granola recipe is a really large bowl.  There is some stove top cooking involved in making the granola sweet  My smallest sauce pan was perfect for that. After you toss the sweet with the oats and mix your add-ins you'll need three large pans on which to bake your granola.  I recommend sides on your baking pans because stirring, even though you only do it once, can be messy.

I made two varieties of granola.  Two large pans were made with flax seeds, coconut, and crushed slivered almonds.  I added dried cranberries to these after they were done baking.  The other pan was plain.  Raisins went into this batch after baking.

Here is one of three large pans of granola on the morning after.

I chose to store my granola in gallon size ziploc bags.  I will probably invest in different, reusable containers since the granola was given two thumbs up.

Homemade Granola

1 c oil  I used vegetable but you could use what you like.  Coconut was recommended in the original recipe but that's pricey and impossible challenging to find in my area.1 c honey
½ c brown sugar
1 T vanilla
2 t cinnamon
15 cups (one 42 ounce box) old fashioned oats

Mix oil, sugar, and honey in a small saucepan. Bring to a low boil.

Remove from heat. Stir in cinnamon and vanilla.  I had an iffy moment here because my vanilla caused everything to boil up and almost out of the pan.  I make my own vanilla so I'm guessing that the lower boiling point of the vodka caused the ruckus.  My recommendation is that if you make your own vanilla you might want to let your sweet stuff cool a bit before you add the vanilla.

Mix oats and any dry add ins in a large bowl. You don't want to dried fruit or meltable things like chocolate chips in until after you bake. 

Pour the sweet stuff over the oat mixture and stir to coat.

Spread oats in three 9×13 pans.

Bake at 375° for 10 minutes.  Stir granola carefully with a spatula so that none is sticking and everything has a change to brown. Return pans to oven. Turn oven off.

The granola will be ready when your oven is cool.  This is easiest if you put the granola in the oven at night and then get it out in the morning.  It's not enough to wait for the oven temp to go down.  The oven needs to be completely back to room temperature cool inside.

I found my favorite instructions for adding variety to granola at The Daily Muse.  The basic gist is that you can add in whatever you like 1/2 c at a time for a recipe that uses 3 c of oats.  Since my recipe uses 15 c of oats I adjusted accordingly.  I chose to add a 1 1/2 c  flax seeds for the Omega 3 oils, almonds for the good protein, coconut and cranberries because I think they are so tasty.

I am getting ready to mix my second large batch of granola.  It took about two weeks for us to eat the last batch.  Our granola consumption may decrease as it becomes a staple but for right now everyone is really benefiting from our nutrition choices and our own personal versions of granola.

This week I'm going to try making my own granola bars.  Check back soon to see how those turn out.  In the meantime, feel free to share your favorite granola recipes or add-ins.

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