One of the reasons I like making my own versions of foods available ready made in stores is that I can control the quality and quantity of ingredients. Then, of course, it is much cheaper and typically tastes better, too. Granola is a perfect example. I have tried dozens of its varieties, but it was never a perfect match. Either it was too sweet, or not crunchy enough, or had my least favorite nuts, or packed less fiber than I wanted.
Finally, I decided it was the right time to create our own “family recipe” featuring our favorite ingredients. It was the same week we made a 100% switch from flavored to plain yogurt, and the kids really appreciated a slightly sweet crunch in their self-made yogurt parfaits. I figured that with a couple of tablespoons of granola and some fresh fruit atop of a bowl of plain yogurt they were getting much less sugar and more fiber and antioxidants than from flavored yogurt without toppings. The combo makes one of the most popular special breakfasts and desserts in our family and can also be packed in a lunchbox. Just make sure to pack the granola separately from the yogurt, otherwise it will get soggy. Kids love mixing them together at lunchtime.
Since it is a basic recipe without any nuts, seeds or dried fruit, everyone gets to add a variety of their own “toppings” or eat it just as it is. I used less sugar, honey, maple syrup and oil than most recipes and added more wheat germ and oat bran to boost the fiber and beneficial fats. As a result, our granola has only 2/3 of the sugar of a typical store bought granola, while providing more fiber and protein. We enjoy it now with frozen organic cherries that we stocked up on when they were on sale in Whole Foods while waiting for fresh local strawberries to arrive to our farmers’ market. Yum!
And although it tastes great and I myself would be happy to eat it 3 times a day, granola is relatively high in calories and fat, so it is best to keep the serving to under 1/2 cup which is still plenty because it is very satisfying. Because of the added sugar and fat it is more of a “better-for-you-treat” than a “healthy snack”, like these Healthified but still delicious cookies.
- 5 cups rolled oats
- 1 cup oat bran
- ¾ cup wheat germ
- ½ cup shredded coconut
- ½ teaspoon salt
- ½ cup vegetable oil
- ¼ cup brown sugar
- ⅛ cup honey
- ⅛ cup maple syrup
- ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
- ½ teaspoon vanilla
- Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F. Line two large baking sheets with parchment paper.
- Combine the oats, wheat germ, shredded coconut and oat bran. Stir together the salt, brown sugar, maple syrup, honey, oil, cinnamon, and vanilla (you may need to heat the honey slightly if it is very thick). Mix the wet mixture into the dry ingredients until thoroughly dispersed Spread the granola mixture in a thin layer on the baking sheets.
- Bake in the preheated oven for about 15 minutes. Take the granola out, stir and put back for 5 minutes or until crispy and slightly browned. Cool and store in an airtight container.