Homemade granola is simple to prepare and a great snack to make and pack as you hit the trails for some outdoor fun. This recipe uses a few tricks that produce light crunchy oat clusters, and a naturally sweet, low-fat granola that is satisfying, delicious and healthy.
Flour is often added to granola to help the oats stick together. In this recipe, 1/2 cup of oats is processed in a food processor to create an oat flour that will make large clusters, just like store-bought granola.
Sugar carries the flavor in granola and cannot be left out. Brown sugar tastes great but is no healthier than white sugar. Agave nectar and honey are natural sweeteners but should still be used in moderation due to the high levels of fructose they contain.
Granola without sugar tastes like cardboard, so I have found that 1/3 cup honey or agave is plenty to sweeten the granola while maintaining healthy levels of fructose per serving size.
Coconut oil is high in saturated fat, but it is a medium-chain fat that is actually good for the heart. It is solid at room temperature so it will need to be melted in hot water prior to use or stored at a temperature lower than 76 degrees. Coconut oil is also good for the thyroid, a key gland in helping to control weight.
Applesauce (or pumpkin puree) is added to replace some of the oil and sugar, which are prevalent in many granola recipes. Applesauce is frequently sold in prepackaged 4 oz. containers, which is the exact measurement for this recipe.
Theme and variation are pleasurable aspects of homemade granola making. Don’t like nuts? Leave them out. Want lots of nuts and seeds? Put them in. Dried fruits, coconut, nuts, seeds, spices and extracts can all be tinkered with until you find the perfect combination for you and your family.
- 3 cups rolled oats, regular or quick-cooking (not instant)
- 4 ounces (1/2 cup) applesauce or pumpkin puree
- 1/3 cup honey, agave nectar, or maple syrup
- 1/4 cup coconut oil
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1 teaspoon cinnamon or pumpkin pie spice
- 1/2 teaspoon cardamom, ginger, or nutmeg (optional)
- 1 cup nuts, such as pecans, walnuts, almonds, macadamias, hazelnuts, cashews, pistachios, etc. (optional)
- 1/2 cup large flaked coconut (optional)
- 1/4 cup large seeds, pumpkin or sunflower (optional)
- 1/4 cup small seeds, think chai, hemp, sesame, flax, etc. (optional)
- 1/2 cup dried fruit, cherries, cranberries, apricots, peaches, bananas, pineapple, blueberries, etc.
- good quality coarse sea salt
- Preheat oven to 300 degrees.
- Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper.
- Place 1/2 cup oats in a food processor and grind to a fine powder. Add remaining oats and pulse for four 1-second pulses to lightly break up oats.
- Combine applesauce (or pumpkin puree), agave, oil, spices and vanilla in a large bowl and whisk to combine. Add oats and stir until completely coated.
- Place on a prepared baking sheet and bake for 15 minutes.
- Remove pan from oven and gently mix in nuts, seeds and/or coconut, breaking up large clumps of oats if they have formed.
- Bake for another 20-30 minutes until granola is crispy and golden.
- Check it a few times and stir it around. Outside edges will tend to brown more quickly than the center.
- Mix in dried fruit and sprinkle with coarse salt.
- Cool and store in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to a month.