Grrrreat Granola

granola

Somewhere along the line, oat cuisine got elevated from standard horsefeed into gourmet granola. Nowadays, you can get granola in designer flavors like apple cinnamon, mocha, sunflower seed this and dried cranberry that. I don’t understand why companies charge $5 for little sacks, especially when the main ingredient is what Romans considered a diseased version of wheat (according to Good Eats).

Homemade granola is dirt cheap and more delicious than commercial varieties. It puts a certain “grrrreat” cereal to shame. This Good Eats recipe makes seriously addictive granola. Other recipes were either too dry, flavorless, or didn’t get the ratio of the add-ins right. But Alton’s version is sweet, salty and crispy but not dry.

Notes/tips:

  • Unlike most baking recipes, this recipe is open to ingredient substitions. I halved the amount of nuts and also chopped them so I would get more in each bite. Instead of coconut, I used toasted okara, or soy bean pulp, that was leftover from my homemade soy milk. Okara is a nutritional powerhouse: it’s high in fiber, protein and isoflavones. The granola was a bit too sweet for me, so next time I’ll reduce the sweeteners by 1/4 cup. I didn’t stir in dried fruit, for fear of the moisture transferring over to the crispy oats. But I have a whole slew of choices from Sahadi’s :-) that I can add in on a case-by-case basis.
  • You may substitute other nuts and seeds for the standard almonds and cashews. You can also use your favorite dried fruit instead of raisins. Some flavoring ideas:
  • Holiday spice: use cranberries and add a pinch of cinnamon, nutmeg, all spice and/or cardamom to taste.
  • Nutella: use hazelnuts and add a couple tablespoons of unsweetened cocoa powder, or to taste.
  • Chunky monkey: use banana chips, walnuts, and add in chocolate chips after the granola has cooled.
  • Tropical: use pineapple and/or banana chips and macadamias.
  • To get chunky granola, pack it in the pan very tightly, as if making one giant bar. After the first stir, the granola will break up into pieces.
  • For the best nut flavor, use whole raw nuts and toast them for about 10 min. shortly before consumption. Most nuts, including almonds and hazelnuts, go in a preheated 350 F oven. Walnuts and pecans go in at 325 F. Stir the nuts occassionally and pull them out when they turn light brown, as they’ll continue toasting with the rest of the granola. Raw macadamias are delicate and should brown up fine with the granola.
  • Since Alton’s sweetener of choice, maple syrup, is expensive, you can substitute honey, brown rice syrup, or concentrated fruit juice. You may have to tinker with the recipe, as the sweeteners all have varying moisture and sugar content. Imitation maple syrup is not recommended, as it does little for flavor.

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3 Comments »

  1. Crystal said,

    Wow! Just found your site and I’m loving it! I’ll definitely be back, and thanks for this granola info. I’m looking forward to making my own.

    June 16, 2005 at 12:04 pm

  2. Michele said,

    Does anyone know if you can use cooking spray in lieu of most of the oil? My family loves granola. However, I’ve got to get the calories in it down. I know you can use Splenda to reduce the amount of sugar. Any hints would be great. Thanks.

    March 8, 2006 at 3:31 pm

  3. Jessica said,

    Hi Michele, I certainly wouldn’t recommend that you use 1/4 cup of cooking spray. The reason it can be called “fat-free” is because each serving is so small. You can use it to grease the pan, but I would leave in a tablespoon or two of oil to hydrate and crisp up the oats.

    Also, you can reduce the nuts by half and omit the coconut. The granola is plenty sweet, even if you only use 1/4 cup each of sugar and maple syrup.

    March 8, 2006 at 9:38 pm

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