Though I love big, hearty breakfasts, I also know that on busy mornings I don’t have time to make eggs or pancakes or waffles. And that’s probably a good thing. As long as I make my own granola (and often my own yogurt), I am confident that a breakfast of granola and yogurt is healthy, filling, and super-quick.
My mom is famous for making granola. Growing up, I remember the smell of the warming oats in the oven, and the ziploc bags of granola that made their way to my dorm room, vacation hotel suites, and our road trips to visit family. I loved that fairly basic granola, but as I’ve started making my own, I’ve found that I like my granola crisper and more varied than her variety, and have developed my own recipe over the years.
I begin by using some basic ratios–cups of oats, seeds/nuts, and dried fruit. I’ve found that I rarely make the same combination twice. I raid the pantry for what sounds good at the time, and let my ratios guide me. This time, I used sunflower seeds and pumpkin seeds as the “nut” category. I know…neither is really a nut, but I like their flavors and textures, and find that they replace more traditional nuts like almonds or pecans well. I also use more traditional “seeds” in my recipe. I usually use some combination of flax seeds and chia seeds, and included both this time.
The key to making good granola is really the baking. I bake it low (325) and slow, stirring occasionally, until it’s golden brown. The liquid ingredients, a sweetener (honey, real maple syrup, or agave) and oil (I prefer olive oil or coconut oil), coat each piece and make the crisp crunch possible.
After the granola has completely cooled, I add chopped dried fruits. Sometimes, I just add one type of fruit. However, I tend to accumulate many types of dried fruits, which I store in their bags in a large mason jar. This time, I picked pineapple rings, raisins, blenheim apricots, and crystalized ginger (yes I know it’s not a fruit. See the theme here? Flexibility!). I chop the rest into raisin-sized pieces, then dust the whole lot with a tiny bit of flour to reduce stickiness. After mixing them in thoroughly, I transfer the granola into 2 quart-sized mason jars and store in the pantry.
preheat oven to 325° and get out a 1/2 sheet pan or equivalent.
Mix together dry items in a large bowl:
- 3 cups old-fashioned rolled oats
- 1 1/2 cups nuts or fleshy seeds (sliced almonds, pecans, sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds, etc.)
- 1/2 cup of seeds (flax, chia, sesame)
Mix together wet items (warm a bit if sweetener is thick, like honey):
- 1/2 cup natural sweetener (honey, real maple syrup, agave, brown rice syrup)
- 1/4 cup oil (olive, coconut, or neutral oil)
- 1 tsp vanilla
- 1/2 tsp fine sea salt (dissolve in liquids to disperse evenly)
Drizzle the liquid over the dry items, and mix thoroughly with a spatula, so that all pieces are coated. Spread the mixture in the sheet pan, and place in the oven. Stir every 15 minutes, and take out when the oats are golden brown and crisp, approximately 45 minutes. The longer you leave it in the oven, the crisper it will become.
Let the granola cool completely in the pan.
Prepare Dried Fruit:
- 2 cups dried fruits (favorites are apricots, raisins, cranberries, cherries)
- 1 tsp flour (optional)
Cut up any large dried fruits. If you like, you can sprinkle the cut fruit with flour to make it less sticky. I find that it mixes more easily with the granola when this is done.
Mix the fruit into the dried granola, then transfer into 2 quart-sized mason jars or other air-tight containers.
Serve with yogurt and honey or fruit compote/jam.