Growing up, the only way I knew to eat granola was if it had been mass produced and pressed into dry, hard-to-chew, individually wrapped bars that my mom kept around as snacks. I’d often pull a package out of my backpack and find that all or part of the bar had been crushed and was like dusty cereal in a packet.
Back then, our oatmeal came in handy single serve packets with dried bits of fruit that you just added water to, and after a minute or so in the microwave, it was magically rehydrated and transformed into a quick and easy breakfast food.
I am proud to say that I’ve overcome those awful oat-habits, thanks to my husband introducing me to the wonders of homemade granola years ago. He makes fantastic homemade granola.
Just the other day, I made a big batch of granola. Our recipes are slightly different, but both equally delicious. With as much oatmeal as we consume, you’d think that the last thing I’d want to make for an anytime-snack would be something made with oats… but homemade granola is such a treat to have around.
This is not the granola of my youth. This is what granola was before the convenience foods came about… long before microwaves were found in every kitchen.
Granola, originally known as “Granula,” was invented by Dr. James Caleb Jackson at his Sanitarium in New York, in 1863. His sanitarium was a prominent health spa that was open into the early 1900s. Dr. Jackson’s “Granula” was made of graham flour, and was similar to a super-sized Grape Nuts cereal. He sold his healthy cereal, while a similar cereal with the same name was sold by John Harvey Kellogg, who changed his cereal name to “Granola” to avoid any legal issues with Dr. Jackson.
In the 1960s, fruit and nuts were added to granola cereal, and thanks to the health and nature-movement, granola became a popular health food.
Granola is a cereal-like combination of oats and other grains, often with nuts and dried fruits mixed in. As a good source of protein, carbohydrates and fiber, granola, it’s an excellent energy-giving food also can be added to desserts and baking.
We eat our granola as a snack, or topped with a dollop of plain yogurt for a little more substance. We used to eat a granola-yogurt bowl for breakfast, topped with sliced fruit or berries. It’s filling and sticks with you until lunch. It’s a world of difference from those add-water-and-nuke oatmeal or dry bars in packets I grew up eating.
Homemade granola satisfies my need for crunchy, sweet and a little bit salty, when the snackies hit. Make it gluten-free by using gluten-free oats.
An added bonus of making your granola at home, besides the fact that you know exactly what’s in it, is that it makes the house smell amazing for hours after the granola has baked. You can’t get that from a packet.
Krysta’s Homemade Granola
¾ cup melted coconut oil
3/4 cup honey
1 healthy tablespoon vanilla extract
1 tablespoon cinnamon
½ teaspoon salt
8 cups old-fashioned rolled oats (you can buy oats in bulk at Blue Water Natural Foods in Alpine)
¾ cup sweetened flaked coconut
1 cup pecan pieces (or whatever nut you prefer – I use Davis Mountains Nut Co.’s pecans)
1 cup chopped dried apricots
1 cup chopped dried dates (you can also use dried cherries, cranberries or whatever dried fruit combination you prefer – I had apricots and dates on-hand)
Preheat the oven to 325 degrees. In a saucepan set on medium heat, stir together the coconut oil, honey, vanilla and salt until combined – about 2 minutes. In a large bowl, combine the oats, flaked coconut, cinnamon and pecans. Pour the warm oil/honey mixture into the oat-nut mixture and stir until well mixed.
Spread the mixture evenly on two 12×17 inch rimmed baking sheets. Bake for 20 minutes, stirring about every 5 minutes, or until your granola is a deep golden brown. Keep a close eye on it at 20 minutes because it can burn quickly. Watch the nuts and coconut for signs of browning, and it will be ready to take out. Cool completely before adding the dried fruit. Store in an airtight container.