Inside you’ll learn:
~ why healthy homemade granola is a ‘must-have’ in our family
~ the brief, yet intriguing history of breakfast cereal
~ and a recipe on how to make your own deliciousness . . . with step-by-step photos and instructions.
As a kid, my granola came with some personal rules. It had to have just the right amount of sweetness, the perfect crunch effect, and absolutely no oily residue or bitter after taste.
Then, I left home and our small town for a career in the big city, and the granola recipe stayed behind.
And that’s when I discovered the problem.
Once you’ve grown up on the homemade version of granola, nothing else compares.
After a year of sampling store-bought cereals, I knew it.
I wanted that same healthy granola I couldn’t say no to.
This post contains some affiliate links
If you’re like me, granola is meant for any time, any day, any way.
A spoonful for that quick boost of energy.
Sprinkled over mashed avocados on crackers.
Or, at its best, in a bowl. Toss on some dehydrated fruit and add a banana on the side – yum!
You’ve now got a midday meal loaded with superfood vitamins, minerals and enough fibre to keep you going for hours.
In my mind, the best parts about making your own granola are, you’re in total control of the ingredients, the texture, and the superfood goodness.
And, think of the time you save shopping! If you can’t digest unseen soy protein isolates or flax seeds, you can omit them. Instead of spending time poring over that list of ingredients, head over to the whole foods section.
Grab ingredients you can identify and eat: organic oats, oat bran, honey, coconut oil, almonds . . .
The healthy connection between Granula, Granola, Grape-Nuts, and Muesli
Breakfast has always been known as the meal to ‘break the fast’ but studies show it does much more than that. Eating breakfast gives our brain the glucose it needs to perform tasks such as concentration, memory and performance.
And breakfast helps with moods – ever noticed how much better your day feels after a weekend breakfast? We’re energized and thinking clearer and faster for much longer in the day.
If you eat in the evening and then skip breakfast, chances are, you’ll overeat later in the day. Eating even a small breakfast with a little protein is enough to sustain your body and mind until lunch time.
So you really are much better of breaking your fast with breakfast!
Granola has a long and fascinating history from a health and food perspective as well as with the people who invented breakfast cereals.
In 1863 in a New York sanatorium (known today as a health spa), Dr James Caleb Jackson believed illness came from the gut.
Now studies have proven this over and over again, but back then Jackson had a fascinating and new concept.
Along with sunshine and fresh air, his famous patients at ‘Our Home on the Hillside’ were only permitted fresh fruit and vegetables, and whole grains.
When Jackson declared bacon, eggs, and sausages unhealthy, they came off the breakfast menu.
Except, cooking cereal was time-consuming.
Once the wood-burning fire was lit, whole grains took hours to soften in time for breakfast.
As a pioneer in his industry, Jackson developed the first healthy, dry breakfast. To save time he invented ‘granula,’ twice-baked bran and graham flour biscuit crumbs. Saving time was unheard of yet it was an innovative, brilliant idea.
But Jackson soon discovered a problem with his formula. Patients found his cereal too dry.
A solution was found – to first soak his granula in milk!
One day, Dr John Harvey Kellogg, who had his own health sanitorium, arrived at Jackson’s facility to admire and take notes. He was on a quest for his own success.
Not long after, the Kellogg brothers developed their own version of granula. However, instead of using graham flour, they mixed rolled oats and corn with wheat flour.
Jackson promptly sued and the Kellogg brothers agreed to change their brand of “granula” to “granola.”
At the time Kellogg did not market his granola to the public but the opportunity was not lost on others.
As a patient at Kellogg’s sanitorium, Charles William Post liked what he saw with his morning breakfast – mass market appeal.
Once he was well enough, Post developed Grape-Nuts . . . without the grapes. Or the nuts.
In 1897 his baked wheat and barley bread cereal came with a marketing strategy, unlike anything anyone had seen. Advertisements boasted of health benefits galore.
Post became both a serious breakfast cereal contender . . . and a millionaire.
In Switzerland around 1900, Dr Bircher-Benner was more interested in the health benefits from raw food for his tuberculosis patients.
He developed an appetizer to be taken before every meal.
Raw rolled oats with nuts and grated raw apple mixed with water, lemon juice and a dollop of condensed milk.
Bircher-Benner’s patients recovered in the Swiss Alpes and a link was made between good health and whole food.
What’s interesting is, muesli wasn’t even considered a breakfast!
What’s up with all this artisanal granola?
You may have noticed a recent surge in artisanal organic granola products on shelves.
Smaller batches of granola combine spices with nuts and seeds, not seen in most mass-produced cereals.
I adore this new trend.
The emphasis is on unique and healthy which takes the boring out of breakfast. Eating whole grains reminds us to slow down for a few minutes and chew 32 times like we’re supposed to, for better digestion.
Let’s step in the kitchen so you can make your own easy artisan granola, but first, some common granola FAQ’s;
What if I don’t have all the ingredients?
The best thing about making your own granola is, ingredients are meant to be swapped out – especially if you like variety!
For example, if you don’t have the hemp seeds or chia I’ve listed, but you do have flax, pumpkin or sunflower seeds, please use them instead.
And if you only have a half cup of each, then go for it! You’re in for a pleasant surprise.
Can I make a ‘granola-mistake’?
In a nutshell, it’s quite hard to get this recipe wrong.
Granola is all about ratios.
I’ve found equal parts of honey or maple syrup to oil makes granola just sweet enough to enjoy each spoonful. It’s not oily enough to leave an after-taste while perfect for that stick-ability. Spices and small seeds will clump together, leaving you with less dust and more crunchy clusters.
Is that not a lot of ingredients, and isn’t that really expensive?
I’ve found 3 cups of oats to 1 cup of nuts and 4 cups of the smaller ingredients for extra fibre and flavour makes the most interesting granola.
And because that’s approximately 8 cups of breakfast cereal, you won’t feel you’re in the kitchen making cereal every week.
As well, this amount fits nicely inside a baking tray without burning too quickly or never baking at all.
I agree; the initial expense of making granola is costly. However, depending on which nuts and seeds you choose, you can lower the expense. You could also have fewer nuts and seeds and more oats and oat bran.
And remember, store-bought boxed brands aren’t packed with the same health benefits or the same taste you’re about to gain.
How do I know I’ve got the right blend of oil and honey to dry ingredients?
Granola is so forgiving. But if, after all the mixing, there’s a honey-oil pool at the bottom of your mixing bowl, add an extra half a cup of coconut or chia. Stir again and wait a minute before adding any more. Chia is a heavy workhorse when it comes to absorbing moisture.
You want to see some spices and small seeds coating the almonds. Once baked, those almonds will look like this:
My best-ever granola recipe
- 1 large mixing bowl
- 1 small 8″ frying pan
- 1 baking tray
- Measuring cups
- Measuring spoons
- 1 wooden spoon
- Oven mitts
- Counter protector for your hot baking tray (heat-resistant pieces of cork or two folded tea-towels also work)
- 1 storage container and small resealable bags if you plan on also making snacks-to-go.
- 3 c rolled raw oats. Use the big flakey kind and, depending on your preference, choose organic or gluten-free.
- 1 c raw almonds, roughly chopped and if you miss some, leave them. That’s what makes your granola unique.
- 1 c hemp seeds
- 1 c chia seeds
- 1 c oat bran
- 1 c coconut, unsweetened, and if you can find coconut flakes, even better for flavour and texture!
- 3 Tbsp cacao Nibs
- 3 Tbsp cocoa powder – but then I like the chocolate-cinnamon combination. If you prefer, use 2 Tbsp.
- 2 Tbsp ground cinnamon
- 1 c coconut oil. Either the liquid or solid form works.
- 1 c honey (right now I’m using my brother’s Manuka honey which is thick, dark and fragrant. I’ll add a photo at the end and show you how he collects his honey-loaded hives.)
- Set oven to 175 degrees C (330 degrees F)
- Add all dry ingredients to a large mixing bowl and stir well.
- Add the wet ingredients, honey and coconut oil, to a small frying pan.
- On low heat, stir until both honey and oil are liquified and mixed together as best you can.
5. Remove pan from heat and continue to stir as you pour the wet ingredients into the bowl.
6. Mix all ingredients with a wooden spoon until all the oats look moist.
7. If you have a double oven, pre-check that you’ve got the correct tray before adding the mixed ingredients.
There’s nothing quite so messy as discovering the wrong sized tray is loaded with wet, sticky granola.
It almost never transfers to a smaller tray quite that easily.
8. Pour your mixture into the tray and spread the granola out evenly.
9. Bake granola at 170 degrees C (330 degrees F) for 30 minutes. I like to keep my tray in the middle of the oven for even baking.
10. Meanwhile, clear a space large enough for the tray and have your oven mitts handy.
Most people use either their counter or stove top for resting the hot tray on. Prepare your area with heat-resistant cork protectors or folded tea towels.
11. Use oven mitts to remove the tray. Stir the granola mixture with either a wooden spoon or spatula. Do you see how the top surface and all edges are more cooked than the rest? Don’t leave them here or they’ll burn.
Move all granola lying close to the edges, back into the centre.
Now stir or lift the undercooked granola up from the bottom so it too will cook evenly.
12. Lightly flatten the mixture and bake for another 30 minutes.
Note: If you’re ever concerned, remove the tray from your oven and re-stir the granola mixture.
13. Allow granola to cool completely before storing in an airtight container.
Tip: I often add dried fruit to my granola and pour into small resealable bags. Store these, easy-to-grab snacks in the fridge.
Don’t feel like making your own right now?
One small cereal company is taking the unique a step further and adding their own twist. And they’re making a difference.
From both a social and personal level, Beautiful Day in Providence, Rhode Island, deserves a big mention.
Their muesli, granola, and snack bars are handcrafted by refugees.
Spices and ingredients are inspired by the people who make them and the homelands they came from.
You can’t go wrong with pistachio and cardamom or Ginger-zing. And what about Bourbon-pecan or Mochaccino-hazelnut!
With new gained skills and opportunities many of these men, women and teens graduate and continue on with other employment.
Job training empowers and creates possibilities.
This non-profit organization is truly helping families.
Note: I have no affiliation with Beautiful Day – I just love their products and admire their mission.
Bees on the move
As promised, here’s a photo of my brother’s beehives being moved on wood pellets by helicopter.
Links to the research resources
Here are some of the ingredients I like and use.
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