Monday, July 23, 2007

Crunchy Granola

This is my entry for the monthly Weekend Breakfast Blogging, an event showcasing my favorite meal of the day! WBB is the brainchild of Nandita from Saffron Trail. This month, WBB is being hosted by Madhuli of My Foodcourt. Madhuli is encouraging healthy eating by choosing a whole grain as the menu for the month: OATS!
A few years ago, I decided that, given the overwhelming evidence that oats are good for the body, it was in my best interest to learn to love them. I started with quick-cooking oats, which was an unfortunate thing, because quick-cooking oats are rather gummy (regular old-fashioned oats are a better choice, I now realize), but even those were very tasty when I cooked them into the kheer-like and optimistic-sounding Sunshine Oatmeal. I graduated to eating hot oatmeal with different toppings, and I did learn to like oatmeal. My favorite oatmeal recipe for the past year or so: Peanut Butter Oatmeal, thanks to Alanna and Kalyn. I top it with a little honey for a sweet-salty taste.

For those who do not like the mushy taste of hot oatmeal porridge, there is always crunchy golden granola! The store shelves of gourmet stores and health food stores are simply groaning under the weight of granola of all different flavors. Most of these have one thing in common- they are ridiculously expensive!! Home-made granola is much better value for money, plus you get to control how much sweetener and oil goes in. You also get to choose your favorite combination of nuts, seeds and fruits to make your own signature granola.

I looked at several granola recipes and saw that they are all just minor variations on a theme. The general ingredients are:
1. Oats! Most recipes call for rolled oats or old-fashioned oats.
2. Nuts and seeds: eg. walnuts, pecans, cashews, almonds, pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds
3. Oil: to toss with the oats before baking, ensuring that the oats gets golden and cunchy
4. Sweeteners: eg. honey, brown sugar, maple syrup
5. Flavoring: eg. cinnamon, vanilla
6. Dried fruit: eg. raisins, dried cranberries, dried apricots, dates, candied ginger

The general method is: Toss together oats and nuts and seeds. Mix together sweetener, oil and flavoring, then toss with the oat mixture. Bake until golden, then add in the dried fruit. Simple as that!

In addition to this basic formula, granola can be personalized in a hundred different ways. Some recipes call for the addition of soy protein powder to increase the protein content of the granola. Others add oat bran for extra fiber or flaxseeds for omega-3s. One could also add orange zest for a burst of citrus flavor. One look at the recipe will tell you that while it is full of natural goodness, granola has lots of calorie-rich ingredients. The secret is portion size: eating only 1/3 to 1/2 cup of granola in a serving. Here is how I made it, based on ingredients that were available in my kitchen:

Crunchy Granola

(makes 5-6 cups; serving size is 1/2 cup)
granola1
Ingredients:
3 C rolled oats
1/2 C chopped walnuts
1/2 C almond slivers
1/2 C sunflower seeds
1/2 C dried coconut flakes (I used the unsweetened kind)
1/2 t salt
1/3 C canola oil
1/3 C honey
1 t vanilla extract
1/2 C chopped dried apicots
1/2 C golden raisins
Method:
1. Pre-heat oven to 300 degrees F. Spray a large baking sheet with oil spray and set aside.
2. Combine ingredients from oats to salt in a large bowl.
3. In a small bowl, whisk together oil, honey and vanilla. Pour onto oat mixture and mix well with your hands, being sure to coat everything well.
4. Spread on the baking sheet in an even layer and bake for 20-30 minutes or until golden, stirring every 10 minutes.
granola2
5. Let the granola cool down. Then stir in the dried fruit and store in an airtight container.

Serving granola for breakfast...
V prefers it with some plain milk or soymilk:
granola3

I prefer it as a crunchy topping on some fruit-flavored yogurt (I simply mix plain low-fat yogurt with any ripe fruit I have on hand):
granola4

Granola can also be served with dessert: a friend recently made raspberry frozen yogurt, served with a raspberry sauce and a crunchy granola topping. It tasted wonderful! Finally, granola can be enjoyed as a snack, just by itself.

For delicious ideas for eating oatmeal for breakfast, go see Madhuli's round-up of this event.

35 comments:

  1. The fruity yogurt granola sounds good! yummylicious good, that is :).

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  2. What a great breakfast/snack!!
    Also love your granola container!

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  3. Making granola takes me back to my college days -- when we also made the yogurt to have with it!

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  4. I loved the look of that granola. looks real crunchy. sounds so simple to make too. thanks for the great idea.

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  5. Very interesting idea. I never even thought of making granola. I'm not too hot for cereal, but I like your idea of putting it on yogurt. I'm not sure I'd take this over that wonderful peanut butter oatmeal though. That was a find!

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  6. Thats a good way to make it at home from scratch! :)

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  7. Simply GR8 Nupur :) I loved it.It is looking very tasty floating in the milk and and also topped on yogurt. I would love to have this for breakfast. I am bookmarking this recipe :)

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  8. I love granola too. It's a must every morning. I have a great berry dessert on WFLH with a berry fruity yogurt very much like yours! Lovely post!

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  9. Hi Nupur,

    Granola with soy milk or yogurt is my absolute favorite breakfast deal (actually, I dont eat anything else). it is funny, I use a similar recipe to make Okara Granola.

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  10. That would make a delicious and healthy breakfast!!! The pics are lovely!!

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  11. I'm going to try making a granola bar :-)

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  12. My goodness!!!Someone should learn from you how to eXplore dishes from anything!!! Just I thought you eXplored the dish from Pattypan Squash but your eXploration didnot stop there.
    This is such a nutritious and delicious entry...I shall immediately try this out.
    Thanks:)

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  13. Musical, it does taste good and satisfying :)

    TBC, thanks! The granola jar is a glass jar from a store called Ikea.

    Lydia, now that is called a truly home-made breakfast! I want to start making my own yogurt too....

    Sharmi, it is really simple to make and makes for a good snack!

    Kalyn, I insist on eating cereal a couple of times a week...hot cereal in winter and granola in summer. That PB oatmeal is truly unbeatable!

    Coffee, took all of 5 minutes (+ baking time), so it is very quick too!

    Archana, let me know if you try it!

    Meeta, Just took a look at that post...the pictures are gorgeous as usual!

    Zlamushka, all granola recipes are very similar. Adding okara to granola sounds like a great idea- it would add so much fiber and nutrients!

    Cinnamon, thanks :)

    Raaga, that is next on my list too! Can't wait to see your recipe :)

    Meena, let me know if you do get a chance to try it!

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  14. liked ur idea of making the granola for a quick breakfast :) i started making oatmeal regularly after my parents visited me here, i add some dry fruit on the oatmeal & some elaichi pwd :) heh!heh! tastes yum!

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  15. Hey Nupur... That looks great and it seems pretty easy too. My husband often buys the bars .. maybe i ought to give him home-made clusters. Thanks!

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  16. Thats really quick and easy and another good reason to eat the oats, as I am not a fan of it, but my dh sure is....Have to try this weekend!
    thanks for this healthy idea...and lovely pics!

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  17. Have not really had oatmeal except once...though I force hubby to gulp down the awful instant ones every morning :)
    May be i should start somewhere....but yes I do eat the granola bars
    I loved those pics of yours..had a crisp morning feel to it

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  18. Hey lovely pics....specially the one in the jar

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  19. This is interesting! I liked the granola in yogurt combo!

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  20. I agree with you...the stores are a big rip off for these kind of things. Your Granola looks delish!
    I always was apprehensive about oats but surprisingly, I liked them the first time itself...I normally make it porridge style and add brown sugar to it..my fav b'fast in winter!

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  21. i love oatmeal,escp the fruit flavored.Recently i had some leftover form the granola based cereal.I mixed that with soem oatmeal, some brown sugar,corn syrup,nuts and craisins.Microwaved the mixture for 4-5 mins.While hot poured it in a baking tray lines with wax paper.And let it cool. When cool,cut them into bar size for a healthy breakfast granola bar.:)

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  22. I just read about granola somewhere else...not a big fan of oats, but sure can try this one

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  23. Now this looks like one way I could get some oats into my world -- either toasty-crunchy like this, or ground up like Asha's parathas ;)

    Thanks for this recipe; the finished granola looks so appealing, it's a must-try for me :)

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  24. Looks fantastic Nupur! I can't wait to try it! I love oats in just about any form except instant oatmeal. Have you tried Irish Oats? I love the texture - almost like little berries in cream that sort of pop when you bite into them. I know that sounds very strange, but it is soooo good!

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  25. Granola looks very nice. That would make a simple and healthy breakfast or snack.
    Thanks for sharing.:)

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  26. this is such a simple yet crunchilcious breakfast recipe... i love granola with the yoghurt and fruits.... will try it out...

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  27. I eat oatmeal virtually every morning, though I buy a 6-grain variety that doesn't get mushy. As for granola, what's not to love, especially in this recipe? My only problem with granola is stopping myself from eating too much of it!

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  28. Richa, oh, yeah, elaichi powder turns oatmeal almost into a kheer! I never got around to making oatmeal for my parents...I had a notion that my mom would not like it much.

    Laavanya, granola bars can be made with recipes that are very similar to these- the mixture is simply pressed into a pan before baking and then cut into bars later. I am sure you will find good and easy recipes for granola bars on the net.

    Padma, I am sure both of you will enjoy oats in granola form!

    SMDatta, oh, those instant ones can be quite a punishment :) they are so gloopy and mushy. I think this granola is a 100 times more palatable :)

    Sandeepa, thanks!

    Manasi, I don't like eating yogurt plain, but it is very yummy with the granola!

    Tee, oh yeah, oatmeal can be such a warming and hearty breakfast in winter!

    Supriya, that sounds good! I must say I am not a fan of corn syrup though.

    Bhags, try it, it is really tasty and not very oat-y!

    Linda, so I gather you are not an oat fan ;) ? No, this way they are just lovely, trust me :)

    Cathy, I ate Irish oats during the early months of this year. I did love that texture, but they do take a while to cook, and while cooking, the mixture would often boil over! The early morning stove scrubbing was a bit too much for me, so I decided that regular oatmeal would be just fine and switched back to that :)

    Kajal, glad you like it!

    Priyanka, let me know if you do!

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  29. Nupur, this is lovely and looks like store bought ones. Very nice. Viji

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  30. Hi Nupur,

    tried the granola recipe(on stovetop) y'day... I'm not a big fan of oats... so it was for hubby & he liked it a lot...just as a snack... with milk, he doesn't like it to be too crunchy...so had to MW it for 3 mins along with milk to soften it a bit... Thanks a lot for the easy yummy recipe... :)

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  31. Gorgeous Granola!
    After making it at home don you look at the granola boxes in stores and go 'hah! no thank you!'?

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  32. Hi Nupur,
    I made this crunchy granola.It is so good.Kids loved it with yoghurt.thank you for sharing the recipe.Durga

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  33. Dear Nupur ...I made this granola and find it awesome. thanks a ton for sharing the recipe.

    Darshana
    darshana.jajal@gmail.com

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  34. this was just the perspective i was looking for as i sat down this morning with a bowl of mushy oatmeal. thank you.

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  35. Thank you so much for this recipe Nupur! I just tried it for the first time and it turned out great. I was missing honey, so I used left over sugar syrup (paak) from gulab jamuns that we had bought last week. I will be making this over and over again!

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