Just look at that munchiness! I have really been missing my granola. Today is the day I made a new batch. I like to think of this as my Birdseed Granola. Mostly because I like to put a lot of different seeds in it.
Granola is so easy to make after you make your first batch, you will never want to buy it again! The great thing is that you can put your favorites into it and leave out any part that you hate. The only ingredient that seems to be pretty universal is some form of oatmeal. My preference is Coach’s steel cut oats. the only kind I use, even for cooked oatmeal. But for granola, I just use it straight out of the bag.
I add a variety of seeds to my personal granola: sunflower, quinoa, and and chia. No, I don’t cook the quinoa, nor do I soak the chia. They also go straight in from the storage container (or the bag). I do buy pre-rinsed quinoa, so if you don’t, be sure that you thoroughly rinse and dry your quinoa before using it in your granola. You can also soak and dry your choice of nuts too, but I don’t. My favorites for my granola are a 50-50 mix of pecans and whole raw almonds. Walnuts, hazelnuts, or actually any nut would be great if you like them. I just happen to keep pecans and whole almonds in my freezer.
I also add coconut slices to my granola, mostly because one day I went a little crazy and bought some when I was buying some coconut oil. Usually I have a thing about “hairy food”, especially coconut shreds. (I had a really bad childhood incident.) However, the coconut I use is really thin slices; you can see one at the very bottom in the photo above (covered with chia and quinoa). I am sure that when I finally use all of the coconut up it will disappear from my recipe! Until then it is an okay addition. Feel free to use any coconut in yours (or none at all).
I also add a few tablespoonfuls of ground flax seed to my granola. If you do use flax seed, be sure it is ground. We cannot actually digest whole flax seed and it will pass out of the body intact.
Now what takes granola from this:
To the granola you see in the first picture is that addition of a few “wet” ingredients. I use honey, coconut oil and peanut butter. Sometimes I reduce the honey and add some brown sugar. You can add Maple syrup if you like the flavor. Some people use corn syrup (I have GMO issues with this). If you prefer you can substitute applesauce for all or part of the sweeteners. You can omit the peanut butter and substitute any other nut butter, tahini or more coconut oil. You can even use another oil if you choose. I just love the flavors of the honey, coconut oil and peanut butter in MY granola.
If you really want to make granola BARS, I suggest that you add a couple of whisked egg whites to help it stick together. Then be sure to cool the granola completely before trying to remove it from the pan. You might even try adding melted chocolate to help hold it together. See the trend here? I have to admit that I have never been successful in producing granola bars, but fortunately, I prefer to use it crumbled as a cereal or granola topping.
Notice that I haven’t mentioned fruit yet? That is because I use a variety of dried fruit and I don’t want it to be baked into crispyness (is that a word?). I like my fruit to be softer so I add it in about 10 minutes before I expect the granola to be done. Any dried fruit can be used. I like craisins (dried cranberries), regular and golden raisins. I have used dates before, I used dried figs, dried pineapple and even dried apricots. The thing with those fruits (dates, figs, apricots, pineapple, etc.) is that I have to cut them up to use them and I am usually lazy to do that for my granola. I have used date puree for part of my sweeter and it was yummy. Unless you want really dried out, crisp fruit save it to add just before you deem your granola to be baked well enough. You can also add chocolate chips, or peanut butter chips, or basically any goody you like to take your granola over the top!
Speaking of that, you really are the boss of your granola. If you like it really toasted, use a larger pan so it is more spread out, and bake it until well browned. I like mine just sort of stuck together and lightly toasted, so I use a deeper pan and just bake it until it barely of sticks together.
Here’s the deal, just remember that you can change anything to make it your granola:
3 Cups oatmeal (I use steel cut)
1/4 Cup raw chia seed
3/4 Cup Uncooked quinoa
1/4 Cup sunflower seed
3/4 Cup coconut shreds or slices
1 1/2 -2 Cups of nuts of your choosing
Mix these together in a very large bowl.
3/4 Cup honey
2 Tablespoons coconut oil
1/2 Cup crunchy or smooth peanut butter, or any nut butter, or tahini
1/3 Cup brown sugar (optional, and if you use it you might want to reduce the honey)
Melt these together (I use the microwave) and whisk then add:
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon almond extract
Pour the liquid over the dry ingredients. Turn into an oiled pan (you can use a parchment paper liner). Bake at 350º F for about 15-20 minutes or until nearly as brown and crisp as you like. Add in about 2 cups of mixed dried fruit of your choosing. Return to the oven and bake for about 10 more minutes or until toasted to your preference.
Let the granola cool completely, then store.
Note: there are no preservatives in this granola and it makes quite a bunch. I store part of mine in the refrigerator and I freeze the rest to keep it fresh.
I just can’t wait to have some tomorrow morning for breakfast!