Friday, February 4, 2011

Granola--a Template and a Recipe

Cheap Eat Challenge: Watch or join us as our family of 6 eats, or tries to, on $6/day.

As penance for my over-chocolate-y-ness yesterday I'm going to post on granola today. Only it's not real camel hair kind of penance because I actually really really like granola.

A week ago, I made my super friend (yes, she does have super powers, why do you ask?) a coconut cake for her birthday. For the top, I toasted some coconut, only on my first try, I, uh, really, toasted the coconut. It tasted good (except for a few very overdone parts), but the deep brown, overly crispy coconut would not have done for something as angelic as a coconut cake. So I redid the topping and stuck my mess up in the freezer. Where, for the record, I tend to stick a lot of my mess ups. And then this week when I was thinking about granola (i.e. yearning for granola, which is typically too expensive to buy or even make on $6/day), it occurred to me that that would the perfect place for my crispy coconut. But I wasn't going to be able to throw in a bunch of nuts or sunflower seeds or seseme seeds or flax seeds or just whatever. And I wanted to jimmy the sugar down a bit--especially since I'd be using quite a bit of sweetened coconut.

And let me tell you, what I came up with--even with its overabundance of oats (cheap), even with its messed up coconut, even with its reduced sugar, reduced oil, and very few nuts, it was pretty awesome. It was--do I even need to say this since I say it pretty much every post--so much better than what you'd find in a store. Even with the ingredients unbalanced in favor of the cheaper oats, it was still more complex than store-bought. And lower in sugar. Even with my over-toasted coconut and reduced oil, the texture was better. In fact, I was going to follow it up with a post about how to make it into granola bars, but I've plowed through it so quickly that that's just not going to be possible. At least not on this batch.

And so, today, I offer you both a template and a recipe. The template because that's all good granola really needs--some ratios to tell you about how much dry, wet, soft, and sweet you need. Which is the truest cheapskate way to do a thing--what's on hand; what's on sale; what will work for you. Some Save a Lot oats, great; some almost burned coconut, fine; honey or sugar; oil or butter. You can use what you have as long as you have a sort of map to go about it.

And of course I offer a recipe because I know some people like recipes--they won't try a thing without a recipe. I get that; and I've been there and frustrated more than once because somebody who made something awesome told me to throw in a little of this and a dash of that, and I just wanted to know what they'd done, already. So here we go.

Granola--a Template
Makes about 4 cups
Prep time: 5 minutes
Cook time: 20-30 minutes
Cost: Varies from fairly cheap to pretty expensive

Note on dried fruit: I don't like to use raisins. I like to put them in after the granola is cooked, but if you put them in before they puff up and get burn-y and hard.

Note on interchangeability of  fruit/nuts: Below I recommend 1 C of each, and that is truly delicious, but if you've got a lot of one or the other, just go with that--go ahead and use what you have or what you found on sale: if it's 1 1/2 C coconut, a few dates, and 1/4 C nuts, that's just fine--it could make your granola more affordable and it will taste wonderful still.

Note on when to add nuts: I like to add them halfway through the baking time because otherwise I feel that they taste overly-done (to my palate, burned). However, lots of people like their nuts nice and toasted; if that's you, go ahead and add them with everything else.

2 C oats
1 C any combination dried fruit--coconut, dried cherries, dried cranberries, dates, etc.
1 C any combination seeds/nuts--sunflower seeds, sesame seeds, flax seeds, chopped almonds, pecans, walnuts, peanuts, etc.
1/4-1/2 C sweet (white sugar, brown sugar, honey, molasses, agave nectar, maple syrup, etc.)
1/4-1/3 C fat (oil, coconut oil, melted butter, etc--I don't think shortening would work, but who knows, it might)

Combine sugar, oats, dried fruit, seeds/nuts.

In separate boil combine honey (if using) and fat. Mix it well.

Stir honey/fat mixture into dry mixture so that the dry mixture is nice and coated. If using less sugars/fats it will be a little drier. If using more, it will stick together more and be clumpier.

Spread evenly in cookie sheet or jelly roll pan.

Bake at 300 degrees (on middle rack) for 15 minutes. Add nuts if you've withheld them till this point.) Stir. (Cook another 10-15 minutes or until golden. (I'd have a peek every 5 minutes or so after the original stir.)

Let cool.

Store in airtight container.

Serve with milk or yogurt.

Granola Recipe
adapted from The Better Homes and Gardens Cookbook
Cost: $1.65
(oats: .18, coconut: .30, nuts: .75 depending on what kind of nuts you used, sunflower seeds: .30--wild guess because I haven't bought in a long time, sugars: .08, oil: .04)

Note: This isn't quite the granola that I made; I had to forgo the sunflower seeds and some of the nuts, which I love, so I'm giving you a recipe with them included.

You also might want to check out the other notes in the template version. I'm too lazy to say it twice.

2 C oats
1 C sweetened coconut
1/2 C nuts
1/4 C sunflower seeds
1 Tbsp honey
2 Tbsp brown sugar
1 Tbsp white sugar
1/4 C canola oil

Combine sugars, oats, coconut, nuts, and sunflower seeds.

In separate bowl, combine honey (if using) and oil. This is lower sugar/oil so it will be crumbly rather than clumpy.

Stir honey/oil mixture into dry mixture.

Spread evenly on cookie sheet.

Bake at 300 degrees for 15 minutes. Stir. Continue baking for 10-15 minutes more or until golden brown (have a peek every 5 minutes or so after original stir).

Store in airtight container. Serve with milk or yogurt.



  1. Yum, yum, yummy! I made a batch today, and my kids are already asking me to make more. I've never made granola before, but this was wonderfully simple. We loved it!

    1. I am so glad you liked it. I've been craving homemade granola myself.



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