Homemade granola…just saying it makes me feel all…granola-y. I wonder if I can find my Birkentocks from college. There’s also something about it that makes me feel wholesome and healthy.
The great thing about homemade granola is you can put about any ingredient that you can imagine and it will probably be great. Well, don’t try to put something like brussels sprouts or anything crazy like that, but nearly any combination of nuts, dried fruit, chocolate or some other sweet would be yum. You can make granola as plain or adventurous as you like. Whatever crazy combo you think your family will go for is a fun game to play, but be careful. Eat too much granola and the next thing you know you’ve signed up for the co-op membership to REI and only wear Teva sandals and Columbia brand pants that have the option to unzip and turn into shorts.
4 cups regular oats (NOT quick cook oats)
2 Tbs. butter, melted
2 Tbs. canola oil*
2/3 cup brown sugar
1/3 cup honey
1/3 cup agave nectar
1/3 cup apple juice
1 Tbs. vanilla extract
1/4 tsp. almond extract
1/4 cup sunflower seeds (unsalted)
1/4 cup raw almonds, chopped
1/2 cup Grape Nuts cereal
1/2 cup wheat germ
1/2 cup mini semi-sweet chocolate chips
1. Mix oats, butter and canola oil in a large bowl. Spread on a baking sheet and bake at 325 degrees for 10 minutes. When toasted, remove from oven and set aside to cool.
2. Combine brown sugar, honey, agave nectar, apple juice, vanilla extract and almond extract in a sauce pan. Heat until everything is melted and blended together. Set aside.
3. Once oats have cooled slightly, return them to the large bowl and add sunflower seeds, almonds, Grape Nuts, wheat germ and chocolate chips. Mix well. Line the baking sheet with foil and spray with cooking spray. Spread oat mixture evenly on backing sheet and slightly press. Bake at 350 for 15-18 minutes or until golden brown.
4. When done baking, allow to cool slightly then remove from baking sheet and discard foil. If you want to cut it into bars, transfer to a cutting board and use a sharp knife to cut to the desired bar size. If you just want loose granola for cereal, break of large chucks and transfer to a large zip lock bag. Once in the bag, continue breaking the granola up.
I’ve discovered that if I include my boys in baking or cooking then they are more likely to try it when snack time comes around. Harry is a fan of the granola bars and keeps talking about how we did this together. Addison isn’t a fan of the crunchy texture but what’s important to me is that he actually gave it a chance instead of automatically turning his nose up to something different.
I’ve enjoyed having my granola for breakfast with almond milk.
*There has been a trend recently to use coconut oil in place of vegetable oil in cooking. There are many health benefits to coconut oil and coconut in general however, I’ve found that while both have the same about of fat, coconut oil has saturated fat and canola oil has unsaturated fat. If your concern is cholesterol or have a history of heart disease you may want to consider canola oil. If you’re not really concerned about high cholesterol then coconut oil may be the way to go. However, some brands have a stronger flavor of coconut than others. If you don’t mind experimenting with different brands to find the flavor you prefer, coconut oil could be a fun alternative. As far as I can tell (and I’m not an expert, so do what you will with this information) there are no long-term studies on the good or bad effects of coconut oil. Until a reputable medical journal can give conclusive answers I might tread lightly when health and food fads are concerned. I’m not saying I’m turning away from it, I love the flavor of coconut and I’m willing to give it’s health benefits a chance. However, as much as I enjoy watching Dr. Oz for entertainment value, I’m not going to rely on his advice as gospel truth.