Born Pinner, Budding Chef | Homemade Granola

Being as artisan-friendly a city as Jersey City is, we have markets nearly every day in the summer and I've noticed homemade granola being sold among the mix more and more often. While I support as many of our local artisans as I can, granola is one thing I cannot bring myself to pay $8-18 to bring home. For the record, I am not advocating boycotting these amazing vendors. I just have a shortlist of things that are just too damn easy to make, so I won't let myself shell out so much dough for others' homemade handiwork, even if it's yummy! Kale chips and nut milks join granola on that list.

This post is one of the rare exceptions to the sharing-of-a-tweaked-but-awesome-Pinterest-recipe rule that is standard in my Born Pinner, Budding Chef series. But this week, it's my own "wing it" recipe. Now, since I don't know where I learned how to make granola, and it wasn't from my mom or grandma, I'm sure it was a combo of Pinterest recipes back in the day (my M.O. is to read a bunch of recipes for the same thing and then freestyle a path from there).

It is also important to note that this recipe is fairly free of exact measurements. How much you add of one ingredient or another is really up to you and your tastebuds. You love raisins? Pour 'em on! Only want a few chia seeds to help keep you full, but not too many? Do you, sweet thang!

So, let's make this breakfast or snack-time (let's be honest, sometimes dinner) goodness.

What You Need:

For the base ingredients

  • 3 cups oats
  • Raw, unsalted sunflower seeds
  • Raw, unsalted pumpkin seeds
  • Raw coconut
  • Chia seeds
  • Quinoa
  • Nuts (walnuts, almond slices, crushed pecans, crushed cashews... bakers' choice!)
  • Dried, unsweetened fruit (raisins, cranberries, strawberries, blueberries or other)
  • Raw cacao nibs
  • ... what else do you like in your granola? Add that to the list ___here___.

For the flavor sauce (i.e. peanut butter, chocolate, honey, etc.)

  • 1/4 cup of coconut oil (you can also use butter, ghee or another preferred oil)
  • 1/4 cup of honey (I love Flo's Grows local honey, which you can get from Michelle at Busy Bee Organics if you're in Jersey City). Maple syrup is also an option, as long as you use the real deal. I'm from Vermont and I can't fathom putting fake syrup on anything. Ever. ^ That is the base for my plain granola. From there I decide if I want it to have a particularly flavor. For instance:
  • For peanut-butter (or almond butter) granola, add 1/4 cup peanut butter
  • For chocolate or peanut butter chocolate granola, also add 2 heaping tbsp. of raw cacao powder
  • For berry granola, add a few tbsp. of the frozen berries of your choice to the sauce you melt on the stove (see below)

Keep in mind that depending on your own base ingredient proportions, you may need more flavor sauce, so feel free to double, or estimate based on your base ingredients and how rich you want the flavor to be.

What You Do:

Pre-heat your oven to 250 degrees. Cover a baking sheet (the biggest one you've got!) in wax or parchment paper.

Then, here's the secret: do whatever the hell you want! I know, WTF is the point of this post if you can do whatever the hell you want?! The point is to show you how easy it is to make granola at home, and how fun it is to do whatever the hell you want! As you see above, the only measurement I'm certain about is the oats. I use them as my base, and 3 cups makes enough for my granola jar. So, very scientific, eh? The point is, you can't really mess up with granola.

Mix together your "base ingredients" (except the cacao nibs/choco chips -- very important to not add them at this point!). Sprinkle as much of the rest of the ingredients as suits you and seems to balance out with the ratio of oats you use. I choose ingredients that will be filling and nutritious so that eating this for breakfast keeps me full as long as possible in the early part of the day.

Melt your flavor sauce ingredients in a small saucepan on medium-low heat. Stir continuously until melted (you don't want these ingredients to start cooking, so as soon as they melt, get them off the stove), and then pour over your base ingredients.

Grab that wooden spoon and start stirring, baby! Once your base ingredients are fully coated, pour your granola mix onto your wax-papered baking sheet.

Pop this goodness in the oven for at least an hour (good news for forgetful mamas: it's virtually impossible to burn your granola at this heat. But set a timer for an hour, anyway!), and stir it every twenty minutes or so, so it's baking all the way around. Not going to lie, I've left granola in the oven for upwards of an hour and a half before and it was fine. As long as you're checking on it every now and again to give it a stir, you'll be in tune. You want it to bake to a very gentle golden brown.

Remove your baked granola from the oven and sprinkle cacao nibs/choco chips across the top. They will get a little melty from the heat of the granola, without totally melting all over everything. Perfection. Let it all cool completely and then store in an airtight container.

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Enjoy!

What's your favorite granola flavor or ingredient? Test this out, make it your own, and let me know how it turned out in the comments below or here! I'd love tips to try out the next time I fill up our granola jar. It's even okay if you fill it up with a granola from the market. Really.