Granola is a delicious and healthy food that can be enjoyed: plain, as cereal, topped on yogurt, or added to most any simple food needing a little tasty crunch. A few years ago, Lisa, my mom and I made our first batch of granola on a whim. Store bought granola tends to be expensive, not too fresh and way too sweet. It also comes in varieties that don’t really speak to any of us.
Ever since our first batch of homemade granola, all we keep hearing is, “When are you going to make more granola?” from our family, friends and coworkers who received our first and second batches as gifts.
Well, the answer is now.
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“Small batches are quick and easy, but big batches are a nice holiday experience!”
Granola looks simple. At least high quality granola does. We can see and taste pretty much all the ingredients. It’s nature—pure and simple. Mass produced granola is not. We are going to make homemade granola inspired by a recipe from Jaymi Heimbuch. Everyone can remix this easy recipe to fit their own personal taste. The good news is that granola is affordable, fun and easy to make.
We set out on a little shopping safari to Trader Joe’s for key granola ingredients such as nuts, seeds and dried fruit. We also stopped at Mariano’s for basic ingredients such as oats, apple juice, maple syrup, vanilla, and spices. Mason jars can be had most anywhere while holiday gift treatments are readily available at stores like Dollar Tree.
Once we had everything, enough to sustain about 20 gift recipients on our “Nice List”, we huddled up and game planned our batches to fill twenty 32-ounce Mason jars. We knew that there might be some overage; better to end up with more than less. Consider the overflow of granola a gift to yourself.
Here is the granola recipe:
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Total Time: 50 minutes
Yield: Approximately 4 cups
3 cups rolled oats (old fashioned)
1.5 cups nuts/seeds
0.5 cups fresh pressed apple juice
0.5 cups maple syrup or honey
0.25 cups vegetable or coconut oil
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1 teaspoon fine sea salt
1 cup mixed dried fruit
- Preheat oven to 325F.
- In a bowl, mix the oats with the nuts/seeds.
- In a sauce pan over very low heat, mix and stir the apple juice, maple syrup or honey, oil, vanilla and spice(s). Do not boil. After everything is mixed well, pour this syrup over the oats and nuts/seeds in the dry mix bowl. Stir until everything is thoroughly mixed.
- Spread this wet, raw granola (without dried fruit) thin and evenly on parchment paper over a baking sheet pan.
- Bake for 30–40 minutes in total, opening the oven to flip and stir the granola every 12–14 minutes (or less, depending on your oven) until the granola becomes a beautiful golden brown. The taste should offer a warm roasted quality.
- Let the baked granola cool on the same parchment paper over a wire rack.
- After everything is cool, toss in one cup of mixed dried fruit of your choice. Or not at all. Or dark chocolate morsels. Run with it.
“The most fun was being creative with the ingredients.”
The homemade granola will last for several weeks (as if) in a Mason jar after opening. You can also freeze your granola, and it thaws instantly. It will last for several months frozen (as if), possibly longer; but, again, those pesky “as-ifs”. Nobody actually knows because the granola just doesn’t make it that long. I am not the only pantry mouse.
We thoroughly enjoyed our day of granola baking. My mom thought, “The granola making was lots of fun, especially when everything came out roasted beautifully! The most fun was being creative with the ingredients. The granola has just enough sweetness and you can taste every ingredient. I know I’m eating healthy food.”
Lisa was the Head Baker at the oven, keeping everything running smoothly. She really liked the quality of the homemade granola, “The granola has a crispness, but not too crunchy. The flavor has a hint of natural sweetness while the roasted nuts complement everything well. Making the granola was fun, especially when everyone works together as a team. Small batches are quick and easy, but big batches are a nice holiday experience!”
“The granola making was lots of fun, especially when everything came out roasted beautifully!”
Lisa, my mom and I made homemade granola for the third time and counting. Every time our batches grow in size! We haven’t received the feedback yet from our gift recipients this time since it’s not yet the holidays, but we think some of the early giftees have already sampled and aren’t telling. It’s hard to keep a secret!
Homemade granola is different every time, but the reactions are always the same—joy and gratitude. And instant anticipation for the next holiday batch!
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