A Squared: Healthier Homemade Granola

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Healthier Homemade Granola

One of my friends at the office is currently pregnant and inconveniently for me, we sit right next to each other.  I hear about all of her cravings and many times end up eating for two myself just because of my location at the desk next door.  There are whoopie pies in the office kitchen-- why don't we split one?  She was craving the chocolate covered graham crackers at Starbucks-- she gives me the second one in the pack.  I've been putting on sympathy baby weight... but I just can't say no!

Thankfully, a few weeks ago she brought in a new food that she was craving: homemade granola.  Hallelujah!  I LOVE granola.  I could eat it everyday, but it's very expensive to buy the pre-made kind and it can be SO unhealthy too-- loaded with fat and processed sugars.  She passed along her recipe and I looked up a few others and created my own healthy hybrid.  It's much more budget friendly and being able to control the ingredients that go in can actually make granola a fairly healthy option for breakfast or a snack when mixed with some Greek yogurt and fruit.  Oats are a whole grain, after all!




 Healthier Homemade Granola (with dates and pecans)

Ingredients:
  • 2 tsp. ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp. ground ginger
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 3 1/2 Tbs. honey
  • 2 Tbs. canola oil
  • 2 Tbs. real maple syrup
  • 2 Tbs. water
  • 1 1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 1/4 cup wheat germ
  • 2 1/2 cups old fashioned oats (not the instant kind)
  • 1/2 cup chopped pecans
  • 3/4 cup chopped dried dates
Preheat the oven to 300 degrees.  In a large bowl, whisk together the cinnamon, ginger, salt, honey, oil, maple syrup, water, and vanilla extract. Add in the wheat germ, oats, pecans, and dates. Toss well to make sure the mixture coats completely.  Tip: Spray a rubber spatula with a little cooking spray before stirring the granola mixture-- it will prevent the granola from sticking.


Spread the granola out on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper and bake until crispy, but not yet browned-- about 35-40 minutes, stirring once or twice in between. Allow to cool completely and store in an airtight container.


You can use any combination of "add ins" in this recipe by subbing in ingredients for the pecans and dates that I used here.  Some other combinations I am considering trying in the future:
  • Figs and sliced almonds (or chopped pistachios, although they aren't really my favorite)
  • Chopped apricots and sunflower seeds
  • Cranberries, walnuts, and maybe chocolate chips (but would they melt in the baking process?)
  • Pineapple, mango, macadamia nuts, and shredded coconut (like I ate every morning at the Grand Wailea on our Hawaiian honeymoon).  Also wondering if subbing in coconut oil for canola oil would give this a more tropical flavor?
  • Cranberries with pumpkin seeds and walnuts (and maybe subbing in Pumpkin Spice blend for the ginger?)
  • Berry blend (raspberries, blueberries, and strawberries) and sliced almonds
  • Cherries, chopped hazelnuts, and maybe some dark chocolate chips
  • Apples, raisins, and walnuts (or peanuts-- again, not really my favorite)
  • My husband has recently taken a liking to this organic peanut butter granola we found at the store.  I'm betting you could add a few Tbs. of real peanut butter (the kind that is made from just peanuts and salt) and maybe a little brown sugar into the granola mixture and then top it off by adding some crushed peanuts, raisins, and/or chocolate chips and it would be delicious.

Recipe derived from original courtesy of Melissa d'Arabian, FoodTV.com.

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