Friday, August 3, 2012

My Recipe For Homemade Granola: Good Health In A Bowl

Being fit requires eating well.  What do I mean by "eating well"?  I am NOT talking about tofu burgers or lentil soup (not that there's anything wrong with those choices).  I mean eating something that is both a treat and is good for you.

Homemade granola - health in a bowl!
As a general rule of thumb, I stay away from processed foods.  No more instant potatoes or salt-infused frozen lasagna for me.  No refined sugars.  To keep my blood pressure low and immune system functioning optimally, my wife (Diane) and I usually cook our own stuff from scratch.  A recent addition to my growing list of stuff I can make better (and cheaper) than the store-bought brand is granola.

Granola.  Even the name sounds healthy.  The oats help lower your cholesterol (#1 on Mayo Clinic's list) and blood pressure (go to Livestrong) too.  I add shredded coconut (another Livestrong link about health benefits).  If you add the right nuts, it's even better!

The best granola I ever tasted was from a store in Christchurch, New Zealand.  I don't recall the brand, but I remember the taste. My goal was to replicate the taste. That particular granola did not contain nuts, but included golden raisins (called sultanas, in NZ).

Have you priced granola, lately?  $5 for a small box is not unusual.  If you have the time, you can make it cheaper and better than anything you will find on the shelves.  Besides that, you can control the ingredients you want to add, substitute, or leave out altogether.

To get started making my own granola, I looked up a bunch of recipes on the web and went from there.  The most promising recipe I saw was by Alton Brown, which gave me a place to start.  I experimented until I got the right mixture of ingredients and now I think I have a really good recipe.  It is also a modular recipe, so you can have a choice of substitutions, any of which will yield a unique and delightful flavor.

Note: Although I rarely use refined sugars, this recipe calls for some.  I adhere to the 80/20 rule.  I am strict 80% of the time, but can indulge 20%.  The health benefits, I believe, far outweigh the negatives in this cereal.

Here it is.
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Recipe makes about 7-9 cups of granola.
Prep time: 10 minutes
Cook time: 75 minutes


Ingredients

6 cups rolled oats (any brand, including Walmart. Do not use quick or instant oats)
1/2 cup shredded coconut (or more, if you desire)
1/3 cup dark brown sugar
1/3 cup light honey (orange blossom or Tupelo are best.  Substitute pure maple syrup or Golden Syrup for a decadent twist)
1/3 cup canola oil (vegetable oil is OK too, but canola is a bit healthier)
3/4 teaspoon salt (that's about half of what you get in most cereals)
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon (Penzey's Vietnamese cinnamon is the BEST!)
Optional: 1 cup raisins or sultanas, slivered almonds, and/or other nuts


Directions

Preheat oven to 250 degrees F.

Mix (by hand) all dry ingredients (except raisins) in a large mixing bowl.

In a separate bowl, combine the wet ingredients.  Use a wisk to get the oil and sweetener to fuse.

Pour the wet ingredients into the bowl with the dry ingredients. Use a large spoon to blend the ingredients together. It will be pretty dry, but mix thoroughly.  Break up the little clumps to spread the sweetener and oil.  If you added a lot of optional ingredients, you may need to add a little more liquid-type sweetener, but do not produce a "wet" mixture - slightly sticky is fine.

Pour it onto one very large or two large sheet pans.  Tip: spray the pans with oil or line them with no-stick foil (works great).  Cook for 75 minutes, stirring every 15 to 20 minutes.

Remove from oven and let cool. Place into a large ziplock bag. Mix in raisins if desired.

Enjoy!  Feedback is welcome.

1 comment:

  1. Mmmm...sounds delicious! I'm going to give it a try!

    ReplyDelete