If breakfast cereal had a high school yearbook, granola would win the popularity contest for Coolest and Healthiest. It might even deserve to get Most Likely to Succeed. Go to any grocery store and count the varieties of granola. Want toasted oats? You have two or three brands to choose from. Want granola? Take your pick. In my local grocery store, there is half an isle devoted to granola. All are delicious, but none are low in fat. Despite the high price and fancy packaging that shouts, "Eat me. I'm cool and healthy", expensive store-bought granola is not a good choice if you're counting calories. What's the alternative? Make it yourself!
This granola recipe is super easy and yummy. It is lower in fat and calories because it uses water instead of oil. Best of all? You will save money, your home will smell wonderful, and you can tailor the recipe to make it your own.
Step 1: Gather Ingredients
8 cups old-fashioned rolled oats
2 cups loosely chopped almonds
1 cup firmly packed brown sugar
1/2 cup water
4 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1 teaspoon salt
Step 2: Set Oven Temperature and Prepare Pans
The granola will cook low and slow. Set your oven to 275 degrees Fahrenheit.
Use parchment paper or a silicone baking liner to line the bottom of two baking sheets..
Step 3: Combine Oats and Nuts
Place the rolled oats in a large bowl. Add the chopped nuts. Mix to combine.
Tip: Use your hands to mix for this step.
The 2 cups of almonds can be substituted with any combination of nuts, seeds, coconut flakes, etc. Experiment with your favorite crunchy ingredients.
Step 4: Dissolve Sugar. Add Salt and Vanilla.
Place 1 cup brown sugar and 1/2 cup water in a large bowl or measuring cup. It should be at least a 4 cup size so that it doesn't boil over.
Place in microwave and cook for about 4 minutes. The sugar should be fully dissolved. Microwave for an additional minute if necessary.
Add 1 teaspoon salt and 4 teaspoons good quality pure vanilla. Stir until salt is dissolved.
Step 5: Mix Together and Add to Pans
Pour the liquid mixture into the large bowl of rolled oats and nuts. Combine until the dry mixture is fully coated. This is another opportunity to use your hands..I like to squeeze small amounts together to get a clumping effect.
Transfer mixture from bowl to the pans in equal proportion.
Step 6: Bake
Place pans in oven. Use tongs or a spatula to stir every 15 minutes. Bake for 45 minutes or until the mixture is crispy.
Tip: For snacking, bake until crispy. For cereal, bake until lightly crispy.
Step 7: Cool
Take out of oven and place on cooling racks to cool. When fully cool, transfer to an air-tight container for storage.