Choose-Your-Own-Adventure Granola

Now that the nights and mornings are cooling off here, I’ve been able to start-up with my baking again.  Yay!  One of the things I’ve craved is delicious homemade granola.

Do you buy granola at the store?

Well, stop it!  $3.50 a box is just plain ridiculous for something that is so simple to make.  You don’t even need a huge amount of time.  You just need about 1 hour and 30 minutes for mixing everything and the slow baking.

My favorite thing about granola is how customizable it is.  Did anyone read the “Choose Your Own Adventure” books in the 80’s and 90’s?  They were one of my favorite series because I could read the same story over and over again with different results every time.  I think of these books when I make granola because even though I’m making granola every week (because it’s so good!) it doesn’t mean that it can’t be a completely different animal from the last time.

Here are different mix-ins you can include into your granola:

  • Cashews
  • Sliced/Slivered Almonds
  • Peanuts
  • Walnuts
  • Coconut
  • Ground flaxseed meal
  • Wheat germ
  • Rice Krispies
  • Real Maple syrup
  • Agave Syrup
  • Brown sugar
  • Honey
  • Cinnamon
  • Raisins
  • Dried Cranberries
  • Dried Cherries
  • Dried Blueberries
  • Dried Apricots
  • Dried Figs
  • Dried Dates

Get the picture?  I tend to take the kitchen sink approach and raid my pantry when I’m making granola.  My family has learned to expect surprises with their homemade cereal.

Here’s how to make some granola of your own:

Choose-Your-Own-Adventure Granola Recipe

4 cups Old-Fashioned Rolled Oats

2 cups Unsweetened (if you can find it) Shredded Coconut

~2 cups of your choice of nuts, chopped (this time I went with almonds and peanuts)

3/4 cup vegetable oil

1/2 cup of sweetener, ie. honey, agave nectar, real maple syrup, brown sugar (I did 1/4 cup each of brown sugar and maple syrup)

3/4 tsp salt

~2 cups of dried fruit, your choice (You can, of course, leave this out.  In fact, my family all have different preferences with dried fruit so I tend to make mine plain and then we can each sprinkle on our favorite dried fruit at breakfast time.)

Preheat your oven to 250˚.

My dry ingredients here are oats, coconut, chopped almonds and peanuts, brown sugar and salt.

Mix together your all dry ingredients (except for dried fruit!) in a large mixing bowl.

Whisk together the vegetable oil and your liquid sweetener (honey, syrup, etc.).  I’ve found that mixing them in a small jar keeps my splashing over down to a minimum as opposed to mixing these in a small bowl.

Oil and Maple Syrup – this can also be a fun lesson for little guys learning about liquid densities.

Pour your liquids into your dry ingredients and mix thoroughly.  I tend to make a mess when I use a spoon so I’ve found that using my hands to mix is much easier.

Pour granola into two 9×13″ baking pans.

Bake for about 1 hour, stirring every 15 minutes, until your granola achieves the desired color.  Try to avoid over-browning.  Even if it seems too “wet” – don’t worry!  It will dry more as it cools.

All done and smelling fantastic!

After removing granola from the oven, you can go ahead and mix in your dried fruits.  Make sure to store cooled granola in an airtight container and ENJOY!

When I was in high school, this was my go-to snack on the way to after-school track meets.

My favorite way of eating it now?

Mixed into a bowl of homemade yogurt that has been sweetened up with honey, cinnamon, and vanilla.  Yum!

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