It’s only fitting that one of the first recipes I’m sharing is a creation of my mom. She became “Grammy” once my first son was born. I call her Grammy, too, even though she’s really my mom. Funny how that happens. A child is born, and everyone gets a new name. Anyhoo . . .
Grammy is the one who taught me pretty much everything I know about cooking. My mom is one great cook. I have so many memories of learning to cook by her side. She learned to cook from her mom. In fact, one of the things I enjoy about cooking is the connection I feel with the tradition of cooking before me. I guess most of us learned to cook in exactly that way. From a mom or dad, a grandma or grandpa, an aunt or uncle. Kitchens have the strongest traditions in most families. Certainly in mine. It’s where we most regularly gather. It’s where we prepare for holidays and celebrations. It’s—forgive me for being sappy—the heart of the home.
Grammy is a very healthy 76-year-old. I’m guessing that is in large part due to the wholesome, well balanced diet she has cooked and eaten throughout her life. If you want to know anything about nutrition, Grammy is your go-to gal. She’s a walking encyclopedia of the nutritional value of pretty much any food you can name. I admire her on many levels, but it all begins in her kitchen. Grammy still spends much of her day cooking and creating new recipes. What a woman. King-Man hopes prays I grow up to be just like her.
So, I share Grammy’s Granola recipe. It’s a staple in our house. I make a batch up every 2 weeks or so. It’s great with milk or yogurt or good just by itself as a snack. King-Man keeps a jar of it at his office to have for snacking, and he takes it with him for an energy boost when he backpacks the Grand Canyon. I take a Ziploc of Grammy’s Granola with me whenever I fly to combat the hungries, since the airlines clearly have an evil plot to starve us all to death.
Most of the store-bought granola is super high in sugar and bad fats. This recipe is relatively low in sugar, only contains good, healthy fats, and is jam-packed with lots of whole grain, nutty goodness. It’s not just nutritious, it’s tasty!
Nutritional information (per 1/4 cup serving)
With dried fruit -- 62 calories, 3.1g fat, 7.2g carbs, 1.2 g fiber, 2.9g sugars, 1.9g protein; WeightWatchers PointsPlus: 2
Without dried fruit -- 68 calories, 3.5g fat, 7.7g carbs, 1.2g fiber, 2.9g sugars, 2.2g protein; WeightWatchers PointsPlus: 2
Step 1. Assemble the ingredients. This is a list of what I normally use; but feel free to substitute other nuts, seeds, or dried fruit that you prefer or have on hand.
nuts & seeds: I use raw almonds, walnuts, sunflower seeds, pepitas (pumpkin seeds), sesame seeds, chia seeds or ground flax seeds
grains: old fashioned rolled oats (I prefer these over the more processed instant and quick oats); wheat germ
whole grain, low/no sugar boxed cereal; whole grain flakes or puffed grains both work well
spices: cayenne pepper, cinnamon, salt
dried fruit; I use dried cherries, cranberries, wild blueberries, apricots (these are optional; you can make fruitless granola, if you prefer)
Gluten free? Omit the wheat germ, use gluten-free oats, and select a gluten free boxed cereal.
Step 2. Get your pans ready. You’ll need 2 large baking sheets (mine are 18"x13"). I like to line them with parchment paper, but that’s not required. Make sure you have two oven racks evenly spaced, and preheat your oven to 300 degrees.
Step 3. Coarsely chop the walnuts and almonds.
Step 4. Throw the walnuts and almonds in a bowl with the pepitas, sunflower seeds, sesame seeds, chia or ground flax seed, and wheat germ. Give that all a mix with a spoon.
Don't eat nuts? Omit them and substitute an additional 3 cups of oats and cereal.
Step 5. In a separate large bowl, add the oats. Add the boxed cereal.
Step 6. Combine the brown sugar, water, salt, cinnamon, and cayenne pepper in a microwave safe bowl or measuring cup. No, that’s not an error. There is, in fact, cayenne pepper in Grammy’s Granola. It adds a little zip. Just a hint of zip. So, you can’t really taste exactly what that zip is. My mom and grandma and sister and aunts and I believe that a hit of cayenne pepper makes most things better. It’s one of our strong beliefs, really. If you disagree, don’t waste your breath trying to change our minds. We stand united and firm on this one.
Zap this mixture in the microwave for 1 minute. Stir it.
Step 7. Pour the liquid over the oats & cereal mixture. Give it a good stir so that every little morsel gets coated with the sticky liquid.
Step 8. Add the nut mixture to the cereal mixture. Stir it.
Step 9. Divide the mixture evenly between the two baking sheets and spread it out.
Step 10. Put the baking sheets in the 300 degree oven. After baking them 25 minutes, rotate and switch the pans. Bake another 20-25 minutes. (Total baking time is 40-50 minutes.) The granola should be lightly browned (look at the nuts to see if they're browned, since the cereal probably started out brown). It will get crispier as it cools. Remove the pans from the oven and let them cool completely. It’s okay to steal a nibble or two or three while it’s cooling. Who can resist this fresh baked treat?
Step 11. Chop the dried apricots so that they’re about the same size as the other dried fruit. Combine the dried fruit. Feel free to substitute other dried fruits, if you have other favorites. Just make sure you have a combined total of 2 cups of dried fruits.
A little hint. Sometimes I only add fruit to half of the granola--so I only prepare 1 cup of dried fruit to sprinkle over half of the recipe. I like to have some fruit-free granola for use in other recipes.
When the granola has cooled completely, sprinkle the dried fruit evenly over the granola. I only added fruit to one baking sheet, and left the rest fruit-free to use in other recipes.
Transfer the granola to air-tight containers. I use wide-mouth 1 quart Mason jars with plastic lids for home and Ziplocs for on-the-go. A jar stays out for immediate nibbling and the rest goes in the freezer to keep it fresh. My weird clever King-Man likes to eat it frozen.
When fruit is added to all of the granola, it fills 4 quart jars. I had a little less here, since I didn't add fruit to half of the recipe.
Preheat oven to 300 degrees. In medium bowl, combine almonds, walnuts, pepitas, sunflower seeds, sesame seeds, ground flax seed, and wheat germ. In large bowl, combine oats and cereal. In microwave-proof bowl, combine brown sugar, water, salt, cinnamon, and cayenne pepper; microwave on high for 1 minute. Stir liquid mixture into cereal and oats mixture. Stir to evenly moisten. Stir in nuts and seeds. Divide mixture evenly onto 2 large parchment-lined baking sheets and bake at 300 degrees for 40-45 minutes until lightly browned & crunchy. Cool completely. It will get crunchier as it cools. Sprinkle dried fruit evenly over granola, if desired. Store in air tight container. Freezes well.
NOTE: Other preferred nuts, seeds, and dried fruits may be substituted. For gluten free option, omit the wheat germ, use gluten-free oats, and select a gluten free boxed cereal.
*Dried fruit is optional; granola is delicious without it, too.
Nutritional information (per 1/4 cup serving)
With dried fruit -- 62 calories, 3.1g fat, 7.2g carbs, 1.2 g fiber, 2.9g sugars, 1.9g protein; WeightWatchers PointsPlus: 2 Without dried fruit -- 68 calories, 3.5g fat, 7.7g carbs, 1.2g fiber, 2.9g sugars, 2.2g protein; WeightWatchers PointsPlus: 2
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I store granola in these wide-mouth jars. It takes 4 jars for one batch. These jars are a good size for storing lots of dry goods (nuts, seeds, flours); I also use them for storing leftovers in the fridge.