Make Your Own Granola: It’s Better, and Costs Less
I love breakfast. Lately it seems every article I read on healthy lifestyles promotes eating a good breakfast. As we finally emerge from the hot cereal time of year, I always start hankering for good granola. There’s nothing like the crunch, the roasted golden brown color, the sweet blend of tastes, the nuts and raisins tucked in and the fruit and yogurt on top to start the day off right. And hopefully healthier than boxed cereals.
Lately, I’ve noticed something about the granola I buy. It’s often pale, limp and flavorless. The raisins, when there are any, are likely to send you to the dentist with a cracked tooth. Often you have to really dig around to find the advertised nuts. And what about those clumps that don’t seem to readily dissolve in milk? Worse yet, it almost always costs over $5 a pound and more often closer to $10 at the bulk bins. If I’m buying in the supermarket, the expense is often higher, and I have to watch out for corn syrup or too much sugar.
As for bad news, the top of the list is that the rolled oats in the granola we buy have the nutritional content of cardboard. Oat grain, once cracked open and flattened, loses much of its nutritional value within a month. I suspect most of the bulk granola was made more than a month ago, and the granola in the supermarket boxes and bags is probably older.
So what’s a conscious breakfaster to do? Here’s what I’ve decided — make your own granola. It takes about an hour, lasts two weeks or so and costs much less than store- bought. You control the sweetness and sweeteners, ingredients, flavoring and nutrition, and you can take more care in preparation.
And if you really want to go for it, get an easy to use, hand-cranked grain flaker mill. Fix it to your kitchen counter and make your own fresh rolled oats full of nutritional value and delicious flavor. The mill can also make flour. The one I purchased, the Marga — an Italian-made steel roller, was mid-priced at $109 online. Don’t forget you can make flakes from wheat berries, rice, rye and barley, too. We save money by bulk ordering a 25-50 pound bag of oat groats to keep in a cool place and use as needed. And I’ve discovered that the grandkids love to help turn the handle and make the flakes.
However, if you decide not to purchase a flaker, I believe the oats you buy in the bulk bins are far fresher than anything else you can get.
Nutrition and Price
The nutrition of your homemade granola has its highs and a few lows. Granola in general is high in calories, so we try to eat it only several times a week or to limit portions and sometimes mix in other cereals. It is quite high in fiber and will help keep you regular. It’s also high in protein, omega oils and minerals, among other things.
It’s hard to compare homemade granola to store-bought because homemade is so much fresher, tastier and of higher quality. At average store prices for really good granola, you’re looking at about $45 for five pounds. Your homemade granola should cost about half the store price depending on where you shop for ingredients and whether you go organic.
After months of experimenting, I’ve come up with a recipe that is a favorite around here, but improvising is fun, too. It’s really easy, not time consuming, and always much appreciated. You’ll need a large bowl, and two large cookie sheets with rolled up edges lined with aluminum foil. Set your oven to 350 degrees.
In large bowl mix the following:
8 cups organic rolled oats
1 cup wheat germ or oat bran (if allergic to wheat)
1 cup sunflower seeds (and/or other seeds like flax, sesame or pumpkin)
1 cup chopped walnuts
½ cup slivered almonds
½ cup coconut (if you want to)
(Note: Do NOT add raisins until after cooking or they will get hard as rocks.)
¼ cup maple syrup
¾ cup honey
1 cup of canola vegetable oil
1 tsp salt
1 Tbsp cinnamon
1 Tbsp vanilla
2 cups raisins or craisins (to be added at end)
1. Combine dry ingredients
2. In saucepan stir wet ingredients and bring to boil over medium heat.
3. Pour liquid ingredients over dry ingredients and stir in well until all is covered.
4. Spread about ½ inch deep on the two lined baking sheets.
5. Set timer and bake for 18 minutes, then take out of oven.
6. With large spoon gently stir and move around, particularly at edges which brown first.
7. Bake for another 15 minutes or until golden brown. Watch carefully.
8. Take out and let cool for 5-10 minutes.
9. Turn granola into large bowl to cool further.
10. Once cool, stir in raisins.
11. Store in large glass gallon jar if you have one.
One more detail involves how to enjoy your morning granola. In our house we always cut up some fresh fruit on top, then a layer of yogurt, and almond milk. If a sweetener is needed, and we think this granola is sweet enough, then try a tablespoon of maple syrup — and enjoy!