When Mother Nature provided blessed relief from summer's scorching heat last week, I fired up the oven to make homemade granola with a recipe I've been working on for a couple of years now. One batch after another, my goal has been to reduce the fat and the sugar – for health and diet reasons, of course, but most of all to allow the oats and nuts and dried fruit to be the real stars. Finally, I've got it, to my taste (at least), the perfect balance of sweetness, toasted oats and nuts, and dried fruit.
Leave it to America to eat dessert in the guise of a "healthy breakfast". Yep, that’s the typical granola mix, oiled and sweetened fruit and nuts albeit with a few grains thrown in.
Until I decided to accept granola for what it is – a sweet topping – it just didn’t settle well. Still, for the last couple of years, I’ve been working to remove most of the added sugar and fat in granola, working to create a ‘base recipe’ that’s healthy and natural.
Eat granola when it works for you. But if it’s been too sweet for breakfast, try it by the tablespoon as a mid-afternoon pick-me-up.
Better yet, try Greek yogurt topped with fruit and a spoonful of granola. Now that, that, that’s a dessert to live with.
HOMEMADE GRANOLA with
ALMONDS & APRICOTS
Time to table: 45 minutes
Makes 6 cups (easy to divide or multiply for smaller or larger batches)
- 3 cups (260g) old-fashioned oats (not quick or instant)
- 1 cup (125g) toasted almond slivers or whole almonds
- 1 cup (45g) unsweetened coconut
- 3 tablespoons sunflower seeds or toasted sesame seeds
- 1 tablespoon cinnamon (or a blend of cinnamon, nutmeg, cardamom)
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt (no skimping)
- 3 tablespoons olive oil
- 3 tablespoons maple syrup or sorghum
- 1 tablespoon vanilla
- 1 cup (134g) dried apricots, cut into slivers
- 1/2 cup (78g) dried sour cherries or dried cranberries
Preheat oven to 350F. Line one or two baking sheet (see TIPS) with a silicone mat or spray lightly with cooking spray.
In a large bowl, combine the oats, nuts, coconut, seeds, spices and salt. With a spatula, carve out a well in the center and pour the olive oil, maple syrup and vanilla into the well. Stir well, take time to do this to evenly distribute the liquids.
Transfer mixture to the baking sheet and bake until golden brown, about 20 – 35 minutes, stirring every 5 minutes after 20 minutes.
While mixture is still warm, stir in apricots and dried cherries. Stir well to distribute the heat, let cool.
Transfer to a tight container and refrigerate. For gifts, transfer to pretty glass jars, label and store in the refrigerator. Best used within a week or two.
A Perfect Balance of Sweetness and Toastiness
With less sugar and less fat, this granola stays loose and pourable. No sugary clumps!
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