Thursday, January 16, 2014

Granola

I would love for my kids to prefer a high protein breakfast that includes eggs, meat and whole grain toast.  Unfortunately, like most kids, they prefer cereal.  When living on a budget cereal can be a cheap, easy option.  We easily fell into having boxes of off brand high sugar cereals on hand.

When looking at the ingredient list on these cereals I was amazed at the sheer number of ingredients.  Some of them I needed to google just figure out what they were.  Of course some are worse than others.  The ones that have all ingredients I could find in my own kitchen are, of course, the most expensive.

For that reason I decided to start researching homemade breakfast cereals.  I found some really involved things like a bran flake recipe, but really did not want something that was going to take all afternoon to make.  I wanted quick, simple and cheap. 

That's where granola comes in.  After reading recipe after recipe for various homemade granola, I came up with this basic formula for making a simple base that can be made in roughly an hour.  This makes enough to fill a quart jar.

3 cups oats
1 cup shredded or flaked coconut
1/6 cup oil (whatever you have will work, but olive oil leaves a stronger flavor than some other oils)
1/4 cup liquid sweetener (such as honey, agave nectar or maple syrup)

To this you can expand your flavor options a bit with spices.  We like to add a little cinnamon sometimes. About a teaspoon per batch.

To make the granola, mix the oats and coconut together well.  I like to use my hands for this so that I can be sure things are mixed pretty evenly. 

Then heat your oil and sweetener together.  I do this in the microwave for about 1 minute.

Next, add any other flavors you want to your oil mixture such as cinnamon, vanilla, salt, etc. 

Stir this into the oat/coconut mixture with a spoon until it's well coated. 

Put it in a single layer on a cookie sheet or two.  Bake at 250 degrees Fahrenheit for about 40-50 minutes stirring every 10 minutes.  You want it to be nicely browned, but not burnt. 

With honey, it won't crisp up until it cools, so it's OK if it's soft.  And remember that different sugars will give you a lighter or darker color. 

Once it is cooled put it in an air tight container.  I prefer my old blue Ball jars that I can't use for canning.  I love them and it gives them a practical purpose so I get to keep them. 

You could also add in nuts and dried fruits.  Or other grains.  Just use your imagination. 

Extra add ins have not been in our budget lately, but when they are I plan to try dried cranberries and pecans.

One note I've read is that if you are using nuts, you can mix them in with the oats and coconut before baking if you wish.  Just make sure you are not using toasted nuts because you don't want to be cooking them twice.

I think I will keep add ins separated so that we can customize our breakfast according to individual tastes and mood.

OH, and did I mention that my six year old son will not eat store bought cereal for breakfast now?  All he wants is "the grain cereal".

Give it a try!  Let me know what you think and what flavor combinations you try.  I love that I can customize this to fit our budget and individual tastes.


6 comments:

  1. Yum! Might have to make some. Dev & Dave love them.

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    Replies
    1. It makes a good before bed snack as well.

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  2. You should try granola bars next since kids love them and they are crazy expensive at the store

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  3. We do make granola bars sometimes. I think the homemade ones taste much better than the ones from the store.

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