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Guilt-free Granola?

Guilt-free Granola?

Have you ever made a promise to do something and then not done it? As time goes by, your guilt grows and yet you still do nothing? Why is that? If anyone has a solution to this mystery please let me know!

Well my post today is an attempt to assuage my guilt and complete an unfulfilled promise like this. About a year ago I told my wonderful sister-in-law Jemma that I would send her some granola recipes. I absolutely had the best intentions of following through on my promise, but I didn't. Stuff happened, time passed, etc. etc...the usual excuses! 

I'm not sure if she even remembers my promise, but I do. So Jemma, here's details on how you, and everyone else reading this, can make delicious granola. Better late than never!

With the amount of oil and sweetener, it's definitely not a guilt-free recipe, but I can feel guilt-free now that I've finally shared it!

Is there anything that you've promised to do and you still haven't done it? If so I encourage you to stop feeling guilty and just go do it. I promise you'll feel so much better. Then go make this granola - it's totally worth it too!

 

What you need

To make basic granola you need grains, sweetener, oil and salt. Then you can add whatever else you want: nuts, seeds, fruits, different flavorings. It is so flexible!

Here are some details of the ingredients and recommended amounts to help you customize your granola:

Ingredient Examples Amount
Grains Oats, Rye, Barley 3 cups
Sweetener Brown Sugar, Honey, Maple Syrup, Agave 1/4 - 3/4 cup *
Oil Vegetable Oil, Olive Oil, Coconut Oil 1/2 - 1 cup *
Salt Table Salt, Kosher Salt, Sea Salt 1/2 tsp
Nuts Almonds, Walnuts, Cashews, Pecans 1 cup
Dried Fruits Raisins, Sultanas, Cranberries, Apricots, Apple 1 cup
Seeds Sesame Seeds, Sunflower Seeds, Pumpkin Seeds 1/2 cup
Flavorings Vanilla Extract, Cinnamon, Nutmeg, Ground Ginger 1 - 3 tsp *
Other Coconut Flakes, Wheat Bran, M&M's, Chocolate Chips 1/2 - 1 cup
* Adjust depending on your own taste. Like it sweeter then add more sweetener. Not sure how much flavoring to add, start with a smaller amount to ensure you don't overdo it.

Mr Frugalitude loves the Quaker branded Oats, Apples, Cranberries and Almond granola, but it's difficult for us to find in our local stores. Could I make a home-made version? What better way to test whether granola is a worth making at home?

Here's the ratio I used:

  • 3 cups of grains as follows:
    • 1 ½ cups old fashioned oats
    • 1 ½ cups barley flakes
  • ½ cup brown sugar
  • ½ cup vegetable oil
  • 1 cup sliced almonds
  • 1 cup dried cranberries
  • ½ cup dried apple
  • 3 teaspoons vanilla extract

 

What to do

  • In a large bowl, add the grains, salt and any flavorings and mix well. If you want to add nuts and/or seeds, and they are not already roasted, add them to the mixture.
  • Add the sweetener and oil to the dry mixture, and combine thoroughly.
  • Spread the mixture evenly onto a large baking sheet.
  • Preheat the oven to:
    • 300°F/150°C if you used brown sugar as the sweetener.
    • 275°F/135°C if you are using maple syrup or honey or agave as the sweetener.
      • Sweeteners like honey and maple syrup brown at a lower temperature than sugar.
  • Bake for about 30 - 45 minutes, stirring the mixture after about 15-20 minutes.
  • Let the mixture cool and then add your other ingredients. 
  • Store in an air-tight container to maintain freshness. 

 

How much time?

To make the Cranberry Almond Vanilla granola detailed above took me 10 minutes to mix the ingredients and then 45 minutes to bake it.

Once the baked granola cooled, it took less than 5 minutes to mix in the cranberries and transfer the finished granola to an air-tight container.

 

Cost?

A 24 oz box of Quaker Simply Granola, Oats, Apples, Cranberries & Almonds costs $5.50.

Using the recipe above, I made an equivalent amount of granola for $3.18.

If you ate this granola for breakfast every day then you would use about 26 boxes per year. So making your own would save you about $60 per year.

 

Is it worth it?

Homemade granola easily gets a 5-pig rating. Why? Because:

  • It's easy to make.
  • You can customize the recipe to include your favorite ingredients.
  • It saves you money.
  • Plus it is delicious - particularly with homemade yogurt!
 Homemade granola with homemade yogurt

Homemade granola with homemade yogurt

 

What more can you ask for? 

 

Anything else I should know?

How can I make my homemade granola healthier?

Here are a few suggestions:

  • Replace some or all of the oil with apple sauce. It is approximately a 1:1 replacement. However, if you do use apple sauce you may want to increase your flavorings as it does have less flavor than granola made with oil.
  • Use honey or maple syrup instead of sugar. They are still pretty calorific but:
    • They are less processed than sugar
    • Honey is sweeter so you can use less of it
    • Maple syrup contains beneficial minerals and antioxidants. 
  • Replace some of the oil with an egg white. This will also create granola clusters - see below.

 

How can I make granola clusters?

One way is to replace some of the oil with an egg white. When you stir the granola after 15-20 minutes in the oven, do it gently so you do not to break up the clusters too much. 

Alternatively you can use this baking technique from The Bojon Gourmet:

Dump the mixture onto the lined baking sheet, and spread it into a thin sheet no thicker than an almond. Ideally, the edges will be slightly thicker than the center as they will bake faster. Lay the second piece of parchment over the granola, and place the second sheet pan on top, right-side up, making a little granola sandwich.
 
Slide the whole thing into the oven and bake for 20 minutes. Rotate and continue baking another 10 – 20 minutes, peeking under the parchment to make sure the edges aren’t burning, until the granola is a rich golden brown. It will still be soft, but will crisp up as it cools.

 

How do I store granola?

Granola should be stored in an air-tight container which is kept in a cool dark place. Stored this way it can last about 3 months. 

Keeping it in the fridge can cause the crunchy grains to soften. However, according to The Kitchn, it can be frozen.

 Store in an air-tight container

Store in an air-tight container

 

What is your favorite flavor of granola? Is there anything you add that’s not in the list above? Share below!

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