Cold cereal fits the simple category, but it doesn’t always meet the healthy standard. Most cereals – even the few that are made of good whole grains – have too much added sugar. I want to avoid sugar in regular eating so that I can have the occasional ice cream or cake made with the real thing without feeling like I’ve overdosed.
So I make my own granola. Here’s my recipe. I started with a cookbook recipe, but ended up making a lot of changes.
This recipe is very adaptable. You can change the grains, use more sugar if you like yours sweet, vary the spices, use different kinds of nuts, and so forth. Feel free to make it your own.
6 cups rolled whole grains*
½ cup flax seeds, ground
2 cups mixed nuts, ground coarsely**
1 cup shredded unsweetened coconut
¼ to ½ cup mild vegetable oil
1 to 2 teaspoons vanilla
1 tablespoon maple syrup***
spices to taste (I use cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, and cardamom)
dried fruit or raisins (optional)
Large roasting pan
Food processor or other tool for chopping nuts
Preheat the oven to 300 degrees.
Put the six cups of grains into the roasting pan, and put on top of the stove over two burners set on low temperature. Stir frequently.
Add the coconut and continue stirring.
Add the flax seeds and nuts and continue stirring.
Add the spices – I just sprinkle them on – and continue stirring.
Mix the vanilla and maple syrup into the oil, and pour over the grains.
Turn off the burners (I’ve been known to forget!) and put the pan in the oven.
Cook for 20 minutes. I usually stir it after ten minutes (you can’t stir this too often).
Let cool before eating. If you want to add in dried fruit or raisins, do it after it cools.
Serve topped with fresh fruit and yogurt (or milk of any kind). I always add extra nuts.
*The traditional grain for granola is oatmeal. I prefer rolled barley, but it’s hard to find except in some health food stores. Another option is rolled whole grain cereal, which can include wheat, rye, barley, oats, triticale, and flax seed. Bob’s Red Mill makes one, and some health food stores have this in bulk when they don’t have barley. (Both barley and mixed grains include nutrients not found in oatmeal, which is why I prefer those options.) You can experiment with your own mix of grains. Be sure to get rolled grains – nothing else works well for granola.
**You can use any kind of nuts you like. A stand at my farmer’s market sells what they call “Just Nuts,” which includes walnuts, pecans, filberts, pistachios, and almonds. But any mix will do.
***You can use honey or molasses or similar sugar syrups instead of maple syrup. I mix the maple syrup with oil so that it spreads more easily. If you’re using a quarter cup or more of sugar syrup, you can skip the oil, though it also makes it easier to spread very sticky substances like honey.