My Favorite Granola
About 6 years ago I wasn’t a big granola-eater. I always shied away from the store-bought stuff because of the high fat/sugar content and/or cardboard taste. But this granola changed all that. As I increased my workout schedule that year, and started running longer distances, I found that the combination of carbohydrates, protein, and fat in high-quality granola gave me much-needed energy, without hurting my stomach. But I tend to like homemade over store-bought, so while preparing for a 2-day relay race I decided to make my own granola to take on the trip. It’s based on the Super-Chunky Granola recipe from Cook’s Illustrated (March 2012) and the DIY Cookbook – and not just because I worked there, but because so many of my coworkers had raved about it. Turns out, this is probably one of my favorite recipes.
I was also inspired by Molly Wizenberg’s dedication to granola-making, so sometime in the fall of 2012, I actually became the kind of person who makes homemade granola on a regular basis and keeps it in mason jars on my counter. That came in very handy when it was time to tackle a week of the 6FIT “Hunt-Gather-Grow” challenge. It’s one of the toughest food challenges, but also one of the most beneficial. The goal: eliminate processed foods. Eat and drink only things that you could hunt, gather, or grow. Now, the “you” in that statement is a bit general. Lean proteins are on the menu, but that doesn’t mean we need to go hunt our own chickens. I didn’t personally grow the kale in my smoothie this morning (although I wish I had). Hunt-Gather-Grow speaks more to the original state of the food we’re consuming. Is it a real food? How much has it been processed? This is not an attempt at a paleo diet, or anything like that. It is simply a challenge to be mindful of the basic ingredients in everything we eat, and to choose whole foods over anything processed. The 80/20 rule still applies, and my challenge included one “immunity item” for the week – something that doesn’t fall within the HGG guidelines, but you can have anyway. Coffee all the way! This granola recipe meets the criteria for the Hunt-Gather-Grow challenge, which is just one more reason why it’s my favorite granola.
My Favorite Granola
Makes about 9 cups.
Don’t be misled by the long ingredient list. This recipe is super simple. All spices, except the salt, are optional – this is just my favorite combination. Feel free to play and figure out what you like. Chopping the nuts by hand is the first choice for superior texture and crunch. If you prefer not to hand chop, substitute an equal quantity of slivered almonds or chopped pecans. (A food processor does a lousy job of chopping whole nuts evenly.) Do not use quick oats.
1/4 cup honey
1/3 cup maple syrup
4 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1 1/2 teaspoons ground ginger
3/4 teaspoon allspice
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/3 cup vegetable oil
5 cups old-fashioned rolled oats
2 cups (10 ounces) raw pecans, almonds, and hazelnuts, chopped coarse (I typically do a blend of 5 ounces pecans, 3 ounces almonds, and 2 ounces hazelnuts)
2 cups raisins or other dried fruit, chopped if desired (I use golden raisins, dried cherries, and dried cranberries. Use just one of your favorites, or a combination.)
1. Prep: Adjust oven rack to upper-middle position and heat oven to 325 degrees. Line rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper.
2. Combine: Whisk maple syrup, vanilla, spices, and salt in large bowl. Whisk in oil. Combine oats and nuts in another bowl, and then fold into syrup mixture until thoroughly coated.
3. Bake: Transfer oat mixture to prepared baking sheet and spread across sheet into thin, even layer. Using a large, stiff spatula, compress oat mixture until very compact. Bake until lightly browned, 40 to 45 minutes, rotating pan once halfway through baking (do not attempt to stir mixture). Remove granola from oven and cool on wire rack to room temperature, about 1 hour. Break cooled granola into pieces of desired size. Stir in dried fruit. You’ll likely need a very large bowl for this step. Transfer to airtight containers. (I like to store mine in mason jars, but zipper lock bags work well too.) Granola can be stored in airtight container for up to 2 weeks.