This is hard for me to admit but I have a little thing for sugar cereals. According to my hubby, it’s not so little. Okay, stop judging me! In my defense we eat healthy around here (for the most part), make dinner at home, avoid high-fructose corn syrup, get eggs from our own chickens, and have read every Michael Pollan book since The Omnivore’s Dilemma. So excuse me if I have the occasional late-night date with a Captain named Crunch. Or a Froot Loop. Or a Frosted Flake. I’m weak alright. Weak!
Then I read an article in the Huffington Post the other day about things you didn’t know were in your food. You can read that article here but be warned–it’s nasty. I’ve researched a lot about industrial food over the years and just when I think nothing about processed food can shock me, something does.
The one that caught my eye was Butylated Hydroxytoluene (BHT) which is an ingredient commonly found in cereal. It helps keep food fresh longer which doesn’t seem so bad right? Except that it is the same chemical compound found in petroleum products such as…JET FUEL. Say what??!!
I decided I had to finally break it off with the Captain. Time to rekindle a past relationship that was actually pretty sweet. Homemade granola.
The great thing about making your own granola, aside from the lack of jet-fuel additives, is that you can totally customize it. You’ll want to keep your proportions roughly the same but you can change up the nuts, seeds and berries to fit the tastes of your family. I usually add sunflower seeds but I was out so I added extra pumpkin seeds. My family loves dried blueberries but raisins are a popular second. Almonds can be switched up with cashews or pecans and if you don’t have dried orange peel you can certainly use fresh orange zest. You can also add some brown sugar if you like a sweeter granola (we do). Get creative and definitely use what you have on hand.
All you have to do is put everything in a big bowl and mix really, really well. It will take a bit of effort to get all the honey incorporated. To make your life a little easier here’s a great tip when measuring honey (or molasses, agave nectar, etc.). Coat the measuring cup generously with canola oil, and the honey will just slide right out. Seriously–look at the picture! It’s the little things that make life awesome.
Now you can spread the granola out in a rimmed baking sheet. This is actually the broiler pan that came with our oven but I’ve only ever used it for baking granola. Maybe it’s not a broiler pan after all, maybe it actually is a granola pan. Thank-you nice folks at Jenn-Air. Your oven is falling apart after only 5 years but the granola pan still works great!
Oh, in my Jenn-Air ranting I forgot to tell you to generously sprinkle the top of the granola with cinnamon before popping it in your (barely working) oven. It will bake for 30 minutes but you’ll need to stir it a few times to keep the edges from burning. After it comes out I like to squish it down with a spatula and then let it cool for at least 30 minutes. That way it stays kinda clumpy as I break it up, just like granola should be.
There is something that feels so good about feeding my family homemade granola. The fact that they devour the stuff doesn’t hurt either. Okay, in truth my taste buds still like sugar cereal but the more I read about what’s in processed foods, the less my heart does.
3 cups old-fashioned rolled oats
1/2 cup sesame seeds
1/2 cup pumpkin seeds (pepitas)
1/2 cup flax seed
1/2 cup sunflower seeds
1/2 cup shredded coconut (unsweetened)
1/2 cup dried blueberries (or any dried fruit)
1/2 cup sliced almonds
3/4 cup honey (raw honey strongly preferred)
2 tbsp. grapeseed oil (or other high quality oil)
1 tbsp. pure vanilla extract
1 tbsp. dried orange peel
cinnamon for sprinkling
3-4 tbsp. brown sugar (optional–if you like a sweeter granola)
Preheat oven to 300 F.
Put all ingredients except cinnamon in to a large greased metal bowl. Stir everything together until thoroughly coated. Turn out onto a well greased baking pan with a rim and spread mixture out to the edges. Sprinkle generously with cinnamon. Bake for 30-35 minutes, stirring everything around the pan every 10 minutes. Remove from oven and gently press granola down with a spatula. Let cool for 30 minutes. Break up granola into small pieces and store in an airtight container.
Yield: approx 6 cups