I've always been a breakfast person and found it hard to understand how people could start the day without food! During all my pregnancies I have had middle of the night cereal cravings and still wake up often with my first thought being breakfast. Over the years I've been through phases of breakfast favourites but these days have a few go to recipes that I couldn't get by without. For many reasons I am a huge fan of granola. Not in a "might have it for breakfast quite often" kind of a way but in a "can't be in the same room as a pot of it without constantly eating handfuls of it every time I pass the jar" kind of a way.
Of course there is a very wide range of shop bought granola available these days and while most people think of it as a 'healthy' breakfast option, that is often far from the truth. Many varieties are packed full of sugar and unnecessary extras that are not needed when you make your own. The other huge benefit of making your own granola is that you can customise it to your exact tastes. Don't like raisins? - just leave them out. Love nuts? - great, add another handful etc.
So, my 6 reasons why you should give it a go:
1. It's healthier than shop bought varieties.
2. It's quick and easy to make. Great to do with the kids.
3. You can customize it to suit your tastes.
4. Its probably cheaper depending on what ingredients you use.
5. Its really versatile.
6. Your house will smell amazing while its cooking!
Most granola recipes follow a fairly similar formula and you can play around with your ingredients as much as you like within that.
Approx 3 cups (or large handfuls)
Most commonly recipes call for old fashioned oats which give a traditional granola but you can substitute some for other grains such as rye or barley. I also sometimes use quinoa flakes which crisp up nicely and give a different texture.
Approx 2 cups (or large handfuls)
Any nuts will work but they will obviously all give very different end results. My personal favourites are pecans and hazelnuts but I will generally throw in a mixture of whatever's in the cupboard. make sure you chop them into bite size chunks before adding them.
Approx 1-11/2 cups (or large handfuls)
I mostly use sunflower seeds or pumpkin seeds but again any would work here so play with your combinations to find your favourites.
Approx 1 cup (or large handful)
For me coconut is a must in my granola but if you don't like it just leave it out. Simple as that. If you do include it choose from either desiccated coconut or go for large slithers and make a feature of it.
Approx 1/2 cup
You need some oil to help crispen up your granola and bind it together into those delicious little chunks (yum!!). Personal favourites are coconut oil which will need to be melted before adding or good old fashioned sunflower oil. I have experimented with different nut oils and mostly they work well too.
Approx 1/4-1/2 cup
Maple syrup is generally my sweetener of choice but you can use honey, agave nectar, brown rice syrup or golden syrup to name just a few. Combine with the oil before adding.
Approx 1 tsp
Cinnamon is fairly common in most recipes but experiment and find your favourites. Nutmeg and ginger also work well with most combinations. You can also add some vanilla extract if you wish.
Approx 1-2 cups (or large handfuls)
Very important here - Always add your dried fruit after you've baked your granola and let it cool completely. Cooking the dried fruit with the rest of the mixture will result in hard, crunchy fruit which is not at all pleasant to eat!
So with all that in mind, here is my recipe for the granola I make most often, give or take a few changes. Try it, its delicious and addictive and you'll never buy it from a shop again...
- 3 cups oats
- 2 cups mixed hazelnuts and pecans, chopped
- 1 cup sunflower seeds
- 1 cup desiccated coconut
- 1/2 cup sunflower oil
- 1/4-1/2 cup maple syrup
- 1 tsp cinnamon
- 1 cup raisins
- 1 cup dried cranberries
- Preheat oven to 180˚C.
- Combine all your dry ingredients expect dried fruit in a large bowl.
- Add your oil and sweetener and mix to coat.
- Spread onto a large baking tray (preferably with high sides to avoid spillage) and press down firmly.
- Bake for approx 30 mins until golden and toasted. Stir every 10/15 mins to avoid burning.
- Leave to cool completely. If you want bigger oath chunks the do not stir whilst cooling.
- Once cool and your dried fruit and stir to combine.
- Store in an airtight container.
The granola would keep for at least a couple of weeks but I very much doubt it would last that long!
- Served plain with your favourite non-dairy milk.
- Sprinkled over muesli.
- Spooned over coconut yoghurt with fresh berries.
- Packed as a mid morning snack.
- Eaten by the handful straight out of the jar!
Granola also makes a lovely festive gift, perfect for friends and family. Enjoy xx