Friday, September 9, 2011

No Fuss Granola; Pure & Simple

Even though granola sounds healthy some store bought versions include some iffy ingredients or need some processing to be shelf stable. Homemade granola can be so simple and this no fuss version uses just a few pantry items. Fewer ingredients not only gives you a pure flavor, its saves time so you will make your own granola more often.  Here’s our honed down version with our favorite flavors.  It used to have twice the number of ingredients and we think it tastes better pared back.

No Fuss Granola
Ingredients
3 cups rolled oats (not instant)
1/3 cup each wheat germ, coconut, sliced almonds
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon salt
1/3 cup each vegetable oil, maple syrup
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
post-bake add ins: 1 cup dried fruits including raisins, cherries, chopped apricots or figs, etc

Method
  1. Preheat oven to 300˚F.
  2. In a large bowl, combine dry ingredients (oats through salt) and stir to combine thoroughly.  
  3. Add liquid ingredients: oil, maple syrup and vanilla.  Stir to coat all dry ingredients.  (You may use your very clean hands).  
  4. Pour granola mixture onto a rimmed baking sheet and spread out evenly.  Bake a total of 25-30 minutes until oats are crisp and lightly browned.  Check and stir mixture halfway through cooking to gauge progress.  
  5. Cool cooked granola and, once cool, add dried fruit.  Store in an airtight container for up to two weeks. (It won’t last that long.) 

Your No Fuss Granola
Toasted coconut and almonds spiked with vanilla and cinnamon flavor our favorite granola.  Make substitutions for these ingredients slowly to find your favorite yet still pure flavor profile.  Oat flakes aren’t the only grain – try wheat or rye flakes or a five-grain flakes mixture as your base.  If you don’t like coconut, skip it and add sunflower or sesame seeds.  Try replacing the almonds with other nuts like walnuts, chopped hazelnuts, peanuts or even pepitas (hulled pumpkin seeds).  Almond extract is an alternative to vanilla and nutmeg, ginger or cardamon can stand in for cinnamon.  After baking add tropical dried fruits from mangoes and pineapple to banana chips and papaya.  Some households I know will try a chocolate chip version.  :)  And others will experiment with cayenne or chai spices.  Let me know how that goes.