Confession: I am a granola addict. I make it every week, and when I was in India last January, it was the number one food I missed. I know, I know, the internet is full of granola recipes, but I have tried many styles and I think this way is really special! What I love about it most, besides the great flavor, is its amazing versatility. The ingredients are highly customizable to what you have on hand or prefer and it can be used to make chewy granola bars, crunchy granola bars, or crunchy loose granola. What more could you ask for? I am such a granola enthusiast that I actually like to divide the batch in half and do one pan of chewy granola bars for taking to school as snacks and one pan of crunchy crumbles to top my oatmeal with. Here is the general recipe, feel free to substitute your favorite nuts, seeds, and dried fruits.
The People’s Granola
2 cups rolled oats (regular or gluten free)
1.5 cups chopped or sliced nuts (I used hazelnuts and almonds today)
1 cup dried fruit (I used mission figs, but cranberries are a favorite also), chopped if not already small pieces
1/2 cup unsweetened dried coconut
1/2 cup puffed rice or other puffed whole grain (adds great crisp and lightness)
1/4 cup sesame, sunflower seeds, or pepitas.
1/3 cup each: Peanut butter (or any nut butter), honey (vegans can use agave), brown sugar *If you have coconut oil on hand, add a tablespoon and use a little less of the former three. It will take it to a whole new level!*
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon salt (I love the salty-sweet combo- if you are not a fan or avoid salt, you can cut it down to 1/2 teaspoon)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Combine oats and nuts (not seeds or coconut yet) on a baking sheet and toast about 10 minutes, until just barely beginning to become fragrant. Add the seeds and coconut and continue roasting about 5 minutes longer, until everything is a light golden brown and smells fragrant.
Meanwhile, chop the dried fruit if necessary and combine the wet ingredients, either in a small sauce pan or in a microwave safe glass container, such as Pyrex. The saucepan method is more accurate, because you don’t want to burn this mixture, but the microwave is a safe bet as long as you check it frequently.
When all ingredients are toasted, transfer them to a large bowl and add the puffed rice and the dried fruit. Stir to combine. Heat the wet mixture, either over medium- low heat on the stove, or in 30 second intervals in the microwave until the sugar is dissolved. Careful not to boil or burn it! A little bubbling is okay, but too much and it will dry rock hard. I like a caramel-like consistency, especially for the chewy bars.
Now you have to decide what kind of granola you want!
For chewy bars:
Line a baking dish with parchment paper or coat in with cooking spray and turn the mixture out onto it. Wet hands with cold water and press the mixture down until the granola is packed and even. Stick them in the freezer or refrigerator- they can be sliced once they have cooled. They will store well in the fridge for at least two weeks, at least up to a month in the freezer. I have never had them last longer than that in this house!
For Crunchy bars:
Follow the above directions, except instead of sticking them in the freezer, put them back in the over for about 15-20 minutes longer.
For Crunchy Crumbles:
Spray a pan with cooking spray and pour the granola on. Bake 15-20 minutes, stirring once or twice. Alternately, make crunchy granola bars and just crumble half and for cereal use.
What is your favorite way to enjoy granola?