Sunday, November 30, 2014

Thanksgiving Weekend Fun - Homemade Granola

Of all the meals in the day, I would like to think of myself as a breakfast connoisseur. Recently, in an effort to be a bit more healthy, I've begun to eat more granola in yogurt or as a cereal (instead of my previous faves such as Lucky Charms, Frosted Flakes, Fruity Pebbles, and the like), and I have recently been interested in learning how to make my own so I can include the ingredients that I want. It's also a pretty cost effective method of doing it. You can shop around for the best deals at Aldi, Trader Joes, Walmart, and other grocery stores to see where you can find the best prices on the nuts, seeds, and other additions (dried fruits, dried coconut flakes, etc.). I found a great post on Buzzfeed and it's a great tutorial on making your own granola. I am including my successful first venture into the wild world of granola!!

 There really are only five main ingredients to making your own granola, and then you can get fancy from there. Grain (rolled oats, puffed rice), nuts (almonds, pecans, walnuts, etc.), which really I think that nuts can be omitted if you aren't in a nutty mood :), sweetener (syrup, honey, or molasses), oil (olive oil, coconut oil, canola oil), and salt. From there you can add the seeds, dried fruits, coconut flakes, chocolate, etc. The Buzzfeed tutorial really explains everything well, and there's no sense in reinventing the wheel, so go check it out to get the nitty gritty details of what to add and why. I will include the measurements that I used though!

So, once again, the five main ingredients are grain, nuts, sweetener, oil, and salt. I added seeds and dried fruit to this particular combination. My recipe was: 3 cups oats, 1 1/2 cups nuts, 1 1/2 cups seeds (total), 1 tsp. salt, 1 tsp. cinnamon, 1/2 cup syrup, ~1/4 cup olive oil, and a small handful of cranberries.

Here we go!

 My ingredients: Oats, slivered almonds, sunflower seeds, dried cranberries, pumpkin seeds, and maple syrup (salt, cinnamon, and olive oil not pictured). I was going to dehydrate the apple and include that but decided against it this go 'round.

Here I have added the dry ingredients together: oats, almonds, salt, and cinnamon. I did not include the seeds at this point because they were both already toasted and did not want them to be too browned after the baking process. The cranberries also go in at the end.

I have added the olive oil and maple syrup at this point and mixed it very well to disperse them nicely.

Once everything is mixed well you spread it out nicely on a baking pan with parchment paper or tin foil to prevent sticking. Bake it at 300 degrees for 30-45 minutes, until it's started to brown and your house smells like a Christmas wonderland.

Mmmm.... watching it bake.....

About halfway through (20ish minutes in) you can mix it all up in the pan then re-spread it out. If you want bigger chunks of granola instead of more cereal-like texture you don't have to mix it halfway through.

Here is the finished product!!!! All baked up and I've added the pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds, and dried cranberries, which not only adds some great flavor but some great color as well!! I "taste-tested" a good bit.... it's amazing...

My homemade granola as cereal for breakfast this morning. SUCCESS!!

So, I'd say all in all it turned out really well, was very easy, and ended up being cost effective. I am going to continue to search out better nut and seed prices to lower the cost even more.  I can't wait to make it again and add different things like dehydrated apples, puffed rice, flax seeds, other dried fruits, coconut flakes, even chocolate pieces maybe?!?

Now, get to baking!!

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