|Homemade cherry/cranberry/walnut granola|
A few months ago I suddenly started craving really good granola, the kind that's usually $8 for a small bag and a zillion calories. I hadn't made my own granola since the Campanile recipe was popular for years, but I remembered it was usually expensive to assemble all the ingredients and so rich it was tempting to eat the whole recipe as a snack, leaving nothing for breakfast.
I started with David Leibovitz's recipe, which is in turn inspired by Nigella Lawson, and simplified it a bit. The key is applesauce or pear sauce, which provides sweetness and adds crunch. Unlike Mark Bittman's recipe, there's a bit of fat, which I feel is necessary to make it crunchy and carry the flavor, though less than Campanile's version.
From there I decided that 3 cups of almonds would probably add more calories than I need, plus they're expensive. So I use a half cup of walnuts, but really you can use whatever you want. I don't use the sesame seeds at all, I don't think it suffers without them. I also cut out the rice syrup, because there's already enough honey and brown sugar, and I'm sure it's costly as well. I add a quarter cup of ground flax seeds to make it a bit healthier, and some dried fruit. I use a half cup of dried cranberries and a half cup of dried cherries, but chopped dried apricots are also great, and Nigella prefers raisins.
David uses two tablespoons of vegetable oil. This time I used three tablespoons of coconut oil, which in one of those confusing nutritional switcheroos, is now considered more healthful than canola oil instead of less. I think it strikes a good balance of not too costly, a little addictive but not too, and relatively healthy. It's great mixed with plain Greek yogurt or Go Lean cereal and soy milk. You could also whip some up quickly for Christmas presents.
Here's my tweaks to David's recipe:
Pat's Not-too expensive, Not-too-sweet Kinda Healthy Best Granola
5 cups old-fashioned rolled oats (get it in bulk at Whole Foods or in the bag at Trader Joe's)
1/2 to 1 cup coarsely chopped walnuts or almonds
1 cup sunflower seeds (Whole Foods bulk bins)
1/4 cup ground flax seeds (available at TJ's)
1/4 cup packed light brown sugar (use more or less depending on your sweet tolerance)
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon dried ground ginger
1 teaspoon sea salt
3/4 cup unsweetened applesauce or pear sauce (available in single serve cups at Trader Joe's)
1/4 cup honey
2-3 tablespoons vegetable oil (coconut oil, now available inexpensively at TJ's, makes it even better.)
1 cup chopped dried cranberries, cherries, apricots and/or raisins)
Preheat the oven to 300F.
1. In a large bowl, mix together oats, nuts, sunflower seeds, brown sugar, cinnamon, ginger, and salt.
2. In a small saucepan, warm the fruit puree with the honey and oil.
3. Mix the fruit mixture into the dry ingredients until thoroughly dispersed, then divide and spread the mixture evenly on two baking sheets. (If you have ones with sides, often called jelly-roll pans, use them.)
4. Bake the granola for about 45 minutes, stirring every ten minutes, until the granola is deep golden brown.
5. Remove from oven, add chopped dried fruits, then cool completely. Try not to eat it all the first day.