Before you skip over this recipe because it sounds too healthy, hold on! My recipe will have you loving Granola with all of its health benefits and deliciousness. Plus you won’t feel so guilty about indulging in that greasy, delicious Cheese Steak Sub you ate last night!
Actually, the popularity of Granola has tripled in the last few years especially since Greek yogurt has become a popular healthy option. The store bought granola or granola bars typically have a variety of healthy grains, but many are loaded with sugar in addition to the natural sugar from the dried fruits added. Then add the nuts, and even though these are considered good carbs, they are high in calories. If you don’t read the ingredients, you may end up with a bag of granola or granola bar with as many calories and sugar as your favorite candy bar. Believe me, it is hard to be in the grocery line and not be tempted by all those big fat candy bars looking up at me!
Thank God they now have at least one grocery line without candy. It is intended for Mom’s who don’t want their children screaming and reaching from the cart for the candy and darn if the grocery cart is just the perfect height for those little hands to grab every kind of candy and gum along the way. Of course, when mine were young, I was busy catching up on all the gossip with the stars in the Enquirer, so by the time we got to the cashier, there were about 15 new items in my cart, haha!
It’s OK if you don’t want to make your own, just read the labels & look for natural or organic ingredients. With that said I aim to change your mind, because when you find out how super simple and easy it is to make your own granola, you will love making it. Did I mention the savings… making your own granola is less than half the cost of buying it ready made. People don’t realize the main ingredient is oats and a big 2# container of Quaker Oats cost just a couple of dollars. Of course adding the dried fruits and nuts bring the price up. If you buy these items when they are on sale or in bulk, you will have extra for the next batch.
Good organic granola can cost up to $10.00 a pound, but they are loaded with lots of good healthy fruits, nuts, flax, pumpkin and sunflower seeds. Be leery of really inexpensive granola for it may have mostly oats and very little of all the extra healthy goodies.
I think part of the reason I never ate many granola bars was I hated shopping for them. I am always on the run and maybe a little impatient, so I hated standing in the grocery aisle trying to find my glasses so I could read the ingredients to find out which has less sugar, less fat and didn’t cost a fortune. Then I couldn’t decide if I like soft or crunchy, peanut butter or chocolate, blah, blah, blah.! The worst part is spending all that time in the grocery store and then you get home and hate the one you chose.It’s even worse if you buy a particular brand because you have a coupon; hate that too, so you lose twice, ugh!
Again I have not always been a big granola fan, but that changed when I stayed at Bed and Breakfast several years ago. The owner made and served the best granola I have ever tasted. I never got the recipe, so I experimented with several recipes until I got it just the way I like it. Not too much sugar and an abundance of healthy grains, fruits, and nuts, amazingly delicious with all the flavors and textures. The best part it will last months in an airtight container.
I now make two different types of granola. The one below is my “Tastefully Gourmet Granola” it is very popular, and I have had many requests when I cater to make a batch. It is never on the menu unless I am catering a breakfast. Yet, many of my customers order a few pounds at a time for their families. The second type of granola I make is my ” Tastefully Greek Granola,” this granola was inspired by my Dad Andrew, my Grandmother Pauline, my Mother-In-Law Maria and the Greek Festival. The story and recipe for this granola will be in another post, stay tuned.
In fact, I am making a batch of the Tastefully Greek Granola right now for my Goddaughter Anna. I took her some of the Greek granola when I went to NY to see her beautiful new son and husband Arthur. Well, they loved it, shared it with her friends, and now they want more! She is coming to Baltimore tomorrow for her sister Eleni’s baby shower, and I am taking this new batch of her. Well not all of it, as I said all granola could be made in big batches and stored. Just a hint as to what is different about my Greek granola, it contains wheat berries, not a common granola ingredient. My Greek friends who are familiar with wheat berry (used in Koliva) you will really like this recipe. For those that are not familiar with Koliva, check back for I plan on doing a blog/recipe article on the origin and tradition of this Greek custom as well; usually on only seen at memorial services in the Greek Orthodox Church.
Tastefully Gourmet Granola
Prep: 60 minutes
Cook time: 30 min
Yield: 10 cups
- ½ cup sunflower seeds
- 2 very ripe small bananas
- 1 ½ cups brown sugar
- ¾ cups peanut butter
- 1 ¼ cups apple juice
- ½ cup veggie or canola oil
- 1 ½ tbsp. cinnamon
- 1 ½ tsp. salt
- 1 tbsp. vanilla Madagascar
- 4 heaping cups old fashion oats
Place the banana through the vanilla in a food processor and process until smooth. Place oats in a big bowl and pour mixture all over oats, scrape every bit out of the processor, mix very well breaking up any big clumps. Spray another large sheet pan with Pam and spread the oatmeal mixture evenly across the pan. Bake in a 325° oven for 30 minutes or until it starts to crisp up a bit. Turning at least twice with a spatula while in the oven.
While the oat mixture is cooking, place all the ingredients below together in a bowl. Spread evenly on a cookie sheet sprayed with Pam, then spray the top of mixture again. Bake in a 350° oven for 20 minutes, tossing once, remove from oven and let cool.
- ½ cup sesame seeds
- ½ cup shelled pumpkin seeds
- ½ cup slivered almonds
- ½ cup flax seeds
Remove the oat mixture from the oven, let cool slightly and break up into small pieces, placing the cooked oats in a big mixing bowl, add the nut mixture then add the fruit mixture below.
- ½ cup Cacao nibs (for the hint of chocolate flavor) or 1/2 cup mini chocolate chips
- ½ cup golden raisins
- ½ cup dried cranberries
- ½ cup chopped dates
Now at this point, you can add or exchange any other dried fruits or nuts you prefer. They even have bags of fruit bites in tropical if you prefer or banana chips, virtually whatever you love! Well, try to keep those oowey gooey Snickers bars and Reeses peanut butter bites out, but hey for a party splurge!
Toss well with your hands until well blended. And before you can even put this beautiful variety of healthy goodness in a container you will have already eaten quite a bit, tasting every ingredient along the way! Remember to place it in an airtight container and this granola will keep for a month, but I usually make a double batch, and it barely lasts through the week.
Perfect for Holidays, Christmas or Thanksgiving morning with yogurt, fruit or by itself! Also Great in a Trifle layered with fresh berries, Greek Yogurt or Banana pudding, YUM!