Let me start out by saying, I am the type of person who takes 15 minutes in the cereal aisle because I read all the ingredients on the label. And when I finally settle on a natural or organic granola with no weird preservatives and that tastes good, I might be paying upwards of $5 for a small box. That's pretty expensive for something that is mostly oats. NEVER AGAIN!
Granola is one of those things that tastes a million times better when it's homemade. And you can completely customize it. Although my version has a decent amount of sugar, the other ingredients are pretty darn good for you: whole oats, nuts, and virgin coconut oil. Seriously, just smelling this baking I knew I would have a crack like addiction to it. For real, make it now!
My other reason for making this is I am making two care packages. One for my sister-in-law, Kimberly, and one for my brother-in-law, Brent. He's an avid rock climber and she's a sky-diving, marathon-running adrenaline junkie. Needless to say, these are two fit people and I felt a tad guilty when I looked over their packages and realized I was sending them giant sugar bombs. Now they're getting giant sugar bombs plus granola! But seriously, this granola would make an awesome gift packaged up in 2 1-quart mason jars or in cute holiday bags.
The recipe is super easy. Basically, you mix your dry ingredients together and heat your wet ingredients together in saucepan. Then you toss them together and bake. It's really that simple. Five to ten minutes of active cooking time and under 30 minutes of baking and you've got granola. Here it is before and after baking:
Honey Vanilla Granola
Yields about 8 cups
Adapted from Bev's recipe on food.com
4 cups oats
1 cup nuts, coarsely chopped (next time I'll be doubling this amount)
1/2 cup brown sugar, packed
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp cinnamon
1/3 cup virgin coconut oil (you could substitute another neutral vegetable oil, but coconut is excellent for you and adds a hint of it's flavor)
1/4 cup honey
4 tsp vanilla extract
1. Preheat your oven to 300 degrees and lightly grease a large jelly roll pan (or any baking sheet/pan with an edge to it).
2. In a large bowl, mix together the first 5 ingredients.
3. In a saucepan, melt the coconut oil and combine it with the honey and vanilla. Pour over the oat mixture and toss until combined.
4. Spread evenly on the baking sheet and bake on the middle rack until golden brown, about 20-30 minutes. For loose granola stir 2 or 3 times while baking (see discussion above).
5. Let cool completely before breaking it into pieces and storing. If you want to try bars, use a thicker layer of granola and let them cool slightly before cutting into bars. Since the granola sets and gets crunchier as it cools, you'll have a small window somewhere in the first 10 minutes out of the oven where the granola will be somewhat set, but still pliable, when you can cut it into bars.
I've made this recipe several times now and I really like a maple pecan version with Grade B maple syrup in place of the honey, 1/2 tsp salt, 1/2 tsp cinnamon, 1 1/2 cups pecans, and if you like it really mapley add 1 1/2 tablespoons maple extract too and skip the vanilla.