Every January, after the holidays are over and we can no longer justify eating gingerbread reindeer and fruitcake cookies for breakfast (well we didn’t do it every day), it’s time for healthier fare and it’s back to our Healthy Homemade Granola for breakfast. This is a staple in our kitchens, one that we’ve shared with many friends over the years. It was originally called Fish Count Crunch, a name someone gave it when we took it out on a REEF fish survey trip and ate it on the boat, right out of the bag. In the winter we eat it with lowfat yogurt or milk and dried blueberries. It’s summer now and fresh blackberries are in season; the combination is yummy.
The inspiration for homemade granola came from Rebecca Rather’s The Pastry Queen cookbook. Everything we tried in her cookbook is over the top yummy but the amount of oil in her recipe was out of our comfort zone, so we modified it by substituting most of the oil with organic apple juice. You could probably substitute all of the oil – we just haven’t gotten around to trying that yet. Then we bumped up the amount of oats and added textured vegetable protein, pumpkin seeds, nutmeg and cinnamon. We tried to use organic ingredients; the biggest exception was the sweetened coconut – just couldn’t find an organic one that we liked. We played around with apple juice and recently found a nice organic brand to use.
Oats don’t contain gluten but can be contaminated by being processed in a facility that processes grains with gluten, like wheat, barley and rye. If you are gluten-intolerant, use oats that clearly state they have been processed in a gluten-free facility.
Into a medium saucepan, measure out the apple juice, honey, oil, brown sugar, spices, salt (add the vanilla later):
Spread it onto sheet pans (a double batch pictured here) and bake at 275 degrees until golden (about an hour). Ovens are all different, so it may take a while longer – you want the cereal pretty dry. Go for a low oven temperature and longer bake time to get it really dry and crunchy without browning too quickly. This seems to give it a longer shelf life.
- 5 cups whole rolled oats (if gluten-intolerant, use oats processed in a gluten free plant)
- ½ cup textured vegetable protein (optional)
- ½ cup sliced almonds (or substitute with walnuts or pecans)
- ½ cup raw unsalted sunflower seeds
- ½ cup raw pumpkin seeds
- ½ cup shredded coconut
- ½ cup brown sugar (packed)
- ⅓ cup apple juice
- ¼ cup honey
- 2 Tablespoons canola oil
- 1 teaspoon nutmeg
- 2 Tablespoons cinnamon
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 1 Tablespoon homemade vanilla extract
- In a large bowl, mix oats, vegetable protein, coconut, almonds and seeds. Set aside.
- In a small saucepan, mix brown sugar, apple juice, honey, oil, nutmeg, cinnamon and salt. Whisk to blend completely and heat until sugar is completely dissolved. Remove from heat and add vanilla extract.
- Pour heated mixture over the dry ingredients and stir until completely combined.
- Spread over a cookie sheet and bake about 45 minutes to an hour, stirring about every 15 minutes, until golden brown.
- Cool completely. Store in an airtight container.
Make some extra to share!