Stating that I am not a baker is the understatement of the year. I have never baked anything in my life. Before I moved to London (about 3 years ago) I had never cooked anything in my life either. So let me be clear: if I can make granola, so can you.
I never felt the need to cook before moving to London. So baking was not even on the radar – I can buy better cakes in the stores and don’t need to eat cake to survive so baking was a luxury skill I did not bother with. I pretty much never ate breakfast but was really hungry one morning at work and got the breakfast bowl from Pret. That is when I fell in love with granola and started buying granola bags from Tesco to eat with my Greek yogurt. A little more research came up with some shocking findings – my granola was not so healthy after all. It was also annoying to see the amount of added sugar in granola – there is already maple syrup or honey in it. The refined sugar was not even needed! After a long unsuccessful hunt to find granola without added sugar, I decided to take matters into my own hands and actually make the granola I eat everyday.
I used this recipe. However, you will note a number of teaks and changes based on my baking experience and to make it a little more healthy. But definitely read what she mentions about clumpy granola. The best part about making your own granola is that you can include anything you want and exclude pretty much anything you want. I made sure I chose the cleanest, healthiest ingredients since my main issue with store granola was the unhealthy add ons.
A Word About the Ingredients
The base for all granola is oats. The oats I used were those that were given by Holland & Barrett as a part of this basket – the Neal’s Yard Wholefoods 100% Jumbo Organic Oats. You will need atleast 4 cups to make half a jar of granola so get a big bag.
You can use olive oil or coconut oil. I used the Bioglan Superfoods Organic Coconut Oil. If you have good quality olive oil you can use that too. Although the recipe mentioned 1/2 cup of coconut oil, that was a bit much for me. It was too much. I used a little less than that.
I used honey – Comvita Manuka Honey to be exact. Apparently you can use maple syrup as well. I am not really well versed with maple syrup and have never really used it or eaten it so I stuck with honey. Now the problem is if you want to skip any kind of sweeteners its a bit difficult. The honey or syrup not only sweetens your granola but is pretty much what holds it together. So I would not recommend skipping this altogether and unfortunately, I don’t have any substitutes either. You need a little less than 1/2 cup.
The spices you need are salt and cinnamon powder – 1 teaspoon of each. You can add in any other spices you prefer including cocoa and coffee powder.
You also need 1 teaspoon of vanilla essence. I used the Nielsen-Massey Vanilla Extract.
Mix and match
Seeds – you can use any seeds you want. I used lin seeds. Other options are sunflower seeds, chia seeds, flax seeds, sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds, etc. A word of advice – please read up as much as possible if this is the first time you are using any of these seeds. A number of these seeds need to be soaked in water before you can consume them so make sure you know what you are doing.
Nuts – I used flaked and whole almonds and pecan nuts. Other options are pistachio, cashew, peanuts and walnut. I used pecan and almond since these are not the nuts I usually buy and eat as a snack. So add in any nuts you don’t usually like eating by itself. A thing to note about the nuts is make sure this is not salted or spiced in any way. You will need to add salt to your granola so using nuts which are salted would be an overkill and not very healthy at all.
Dried fruits – the dried fruits you can use for your granola is a never ending possibility! You can add any dried fruits into the mix. Consider the fresh fruits you have available and add accordingly. For instance, I like adding fresh raspberries to my granola so I didn’t bother adding raspberries. I dislike eating raisins on their own but love them in my granola so I added those in. I also added in Yu! dried black current and mango chewies – yum!
The amount of seeds, fruits and nuts you put in is completely upto you and how you like your granola.
This is basically the fun bits. You can add chocolate chips to your granola if you prefer. Like I said, you can make it as healthy as you want – no judgement!
- large mixing bowl (needs to hold 4 cups of oats and required amount of nuts, seeds etc.)
- measuring cup
- baking tray
- baking paper
- airtight jar to store.
- In the large mixing bowl, mix the oats, nuts, seeds, salt, cinnamon, oil, honey (or maple syrup) and vanilla. Mix well to ensure all the oats and nuts are sticky.
- Preheat oven and line a large, rimmed baking sheet with baking paper.
- Pour the granola onto the baking tray and spread it in an even layer with the spatula. Note the instructions about clumpy granola.
- Bake until golden, about 20 – 30 minutes. The cooking time depends on your preference. I like my granola crisp and end up removing some of the burnt bits from the side of the tray. If you want to cook it for longer and like it crisp, make sure to keep checking it off and on to ensure it doesn’t burn. The granola will further crispen as it cools.
- Unlike the instructions in the recipe, I preferred to add in my dried fruits before the granola cooled completely. I let it get to luke-warm and added in the dry fruits. This helped it stick to the granola. However, if you are adding chocolate chips I suggest you let it cool completely otherwise it will melt the chocolate.
- Store the granola in an airtight container at room temperature. I found that it stayed for a month or so. If you want it to stay for longer, freeze it.
And thats that! Let me know if you managed to make your granola and how it went? For me personally, I am never eating store bought granola again. I personally think these also make great gifts. Just put them into a cute jar with a nice little tag and you are set.