Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Granola two ways: everything and maple pecan


Despite my non-resolutions, I will admit to having started a healthier, lighter eating regime this month, eschewing carbs and processed sugar as much as possible.
This new routine involves eating oats in as many forms possible in the morning rather than the five or ten two or three wholewheat cookies I normally hastily dunk into my caffe latte every morning at my office desk. It also involves thinking and preparing ahead but turns out to be less of a bother than I thought it would be. I just have to remember to boil and soak some steel cut oats in water about once a week or alternatively mix and bake my own granola, of which I have already made several batches.
I am aware that making your own granola is not the discovery of the century and that many of you are already doing it, but for those of you who don't, it is so easy and so much healthier than buying those (often) sugar, salt and fat-laden industrial ones, of which there is very little choice here to begin with. So I am indeed very excited, just as excited as I was about last week's lentils ... what can I say, I guess I am an enthusiastic kinda gal, although I promise to spare you Dr. Seuss this time round.
I have made a variety of combinations with very different ingredients and two different methods, both of which worked very well for me, and I cannot help patting myself on the shoulder everytime I take a bite: not only do I get to clean out my pantry and freezer (I cannot begin to tell you the amount of dried fruit and nuts I have stashed away), but I can choose from an endless combination of ingredients, I have control of what I am feeding my family, how sweet I want my breakfast cereal to be and also how much fat, sugar or salt I want or rather don't want to use. Not to mention I get to decide whether I want big clusters, small clusters or none at all.
We have been eating it with cold milk, warm milk or yogurt as breakfast and after-school snacks and we have yet to get bored of it. I am already thinking dried figs, medjool dates, apricots, pistachios, flax seeds, sunflower seeds, raisins. My kids are already dreaming of chocolate chips in all colors or sizes and peanut butter chips...
Quick note: I have been using instant oats because I had a large tin to use up and they worked well but normally granola recipes call for rolled oats. You can go either way. Also, play around with the ingredients you like by substituting, adding or taking any of them. Last but not least, I recently read some recipes that did not call for any kind of fat in the preparation, so I will be trying that next.*

*Six months later I am still making this weekly: I now use rolled oats or 6-grain mixes, I have cut the amount of maple syrup and add flax/linseed to the mix, and the maple granola is definitely my favorite although I sometimes swap pecans with a seed mix (sesame, sunflower, pumpkin, linseed etc.).

Everything granola (makes enough for one baking tray)
1/3 cup honey
1/3 cup butter
1tsp muscovado sugar
1 tsp poppy seeds
1/4 cup unsweetened, dried coconut
2 tbsp sesame seeds
1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 cup almonds, roughly chopped
3 cups rolled/instant oats 
a pinch of salt
1/2 cup mixed red berries

Preheat the oven to 175°C/350°F.
Melt butter and honey (you can melt the honey using the bain marie method or in the microwave) and mix together in a large bowl. Add in all the other ingredients and mix well using a spatula.
Line a baking tray with parchment paper or aluminum foil and spread the mixture evenly. Bake in the oven for about 20 minutes, mixing halfway through. Let cool, crumble and mix in the berries. Store in an airtight container.

Maple pecan granola clusters (makes enough for one baking tray) - with updates
3 1/2 cups instant oats (I have now switched to a 6-grain rolled mix) 
1/2 cup wheat germ
1/4 cup ground flax/linseed
1 tsp cinnamon, optional
1/2 to 1 cup pecans, roughly chopped
a pinch of salt
1/4 cup canola oil or other
2/3 cup pure maple syrup (I have since reduced the amount to 1/4 cup approximately)

Preheat oven to 150°C/300°F.
In a large bowl mix together all the dry ingredients. In a small bowl combine oil and syrup and then pour over the dry ingredients. Mix well with a spatula. Spread evenly onto a previously lined baking tray and bake without mixing for about 30 minutes . Let cool, break up in to pieces and store in an airtight container.






  1. I love your image of the granola spilling out of the jar. I know everyone's been making granola for a while but I haven't made granola yet so it's good to have your recipe xx

    1. That is how I felt... everyone has been doing this for ages, why didn't I start earlier. Which is why I figured there would be others out there like me...

  2. Great photos! Great granola! I've wanted to do this, but thought there was some secret to it! Much better for us than those sugary boxed cereals!

    1. Absolutely! Trust me, it is so quick and easy you wouldn't believe it!

  3. Love the idea of making bigger clusters as well as the looser version. Granola is so versatile, love it!

  4. These granolas sound brilliant! And it's so true what they say about oats making you feel full longer. I could miss lunch if I had a good bowl of them for breakfast :D

    1. I unfortunately never feel quite that full, but they certainly keep you full longer than a sugar and fat laden doughnut (or similar).

  5. Fare da me la granola o il muesli mi ha sempre stuzzicato ... E devo dire che le tue idee mi danno ulteriore spinta! ...soprattutto quella con sciroppo d'acero!
    Se non sbaglio la differenza tra muesli e granola é che il muesli è un semplice mix di avena, cerali, frutta secca e altro miscelati a secco mentre la granola va cotta ed ha dolcificanti come lo sciroppo d'acero o il miele o una parte grassa come burro o olio... Giusto?
    ...altra domanda... Ma qual'è la differenza tra quick oats e rolled oats?
    Credo che i quick siano tipo quelli che qui in italia compro della Quaker... che sono anchun po' rotti e sbriciolati... Ma i rolled? ...sono per caso i classici fiocchi d'avena? ...scusa per tutte le domande! :)
    Intanto grazie!

  6. Ciao Terry, esatto. Il granola è praticamente muesli o comunque fiocchi di cereali e altre aggiunte (noci, germe di grano, semi vari) che vengono cotti in forno per renderli croccante - la frutta disidratata si aggiunge alla fine. Si può dolcificare con miele, sciroppo o zucchero e di solito si aggiunge una parte grassa, anche se ho visto delle ricette senza (che devo ancora provare però).
    I quick o instant oates sono i fiocchi istantanei della Quaker, quelli che sono spezzettati e quindi cuociono subito. I rolled oats sono quelli che trovi nei negozi di cibo naturale o in alcuni supermercati: sono dei veri e propri fiocchi interi (sono praticamenti i chicchi che vengono rullati fino ad appiattirli) che cuociono comunque abbastanza velocemente ma che hanno più consistenza. Infine esistono i steel-cut oats, che però qui non ho mai visto, che è il vero e proprio chicco di avena, che si mette a mollo coperto per circa dodici ore dopo averlo portato a bollitura e poi spento. Si riscalda poi con aggiunta di latte o burro e diventa il classico porridge inglese. Spero di esserti stata d'aiuto.
    p.s. ho rifatto il granola allo sciroppo d'acero e pecan usando fiocchi d'avena e altri cereali invece che i Quaker ed è sempre buonissimo... si deve solo masticare un filino in più

  7. Grazie mille cara! ...allora ero sulla strada giusta ;) ....sai che credo che l'avena intera in chicchi forse si trova al Natura Sí! ... Daró un'occhiata! ;)
    Ancora grazie... E mi sa che proveró la tua granola allo sciroppo d'acero! ;)


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