I have struggled for years to find a nut-free granola that I like. Both my husband and I suffer nut allergies, and as a friend once volunteered: it kind of takes the fun out of it if you need to have an epi pen nearby.
So, about a year ago, I started to experiment with granola recipes and came up with some versions I really liked. A lot. Maybe too much. Over the space of a few days, I graduated from stirring my newest, favorite version into my virtuous yogurt, and having it as a small, mid-afternoon I-need-a-healthy-munchie-with-some-sugar-in-it snack, to trying it on acorn squash and mixing it into cookie dough. Before I was done, I mixed it into apple turnovers, put a little into my pancake batter, added it to the crumbled topping for a pear fruit crisp, and sprinkled a little over ice cream. Some experiments had a better outcome than others. (Note: unless you want pancakes that stick to your teeth, don’t try this one.) Clearly I was teetering on the edge of needing an intervention, but I thankfully pulled back from the edge when I started sprinkling it on my kale salad.
It keeps changing a little from the first one I settled on, but the great thing about granola is that it’s a bit like a blank canvas that allows for a variety of preferences.
The healthy part of my mixture is rolled oats, sunflower kernels, roasted pumpkin seeds, ground up flax seed, and ½ cup dried fruit (apricots, cranberries, cherries and currants in my case). I’ve also used wheat germ in place of flax seed. Oh, and I’m going to include cacao nibs in this category too, which is a fabulous idea from Jennifer on Food52 that I’ve added to my current favorite version.
A few spices are thrown in to amp up the party: cinnamon, cardamom and a little salt.
And the not-so-healthy part is a combination of brown sugar, maple syrup, pomegranate molasses, honey and canola oil. All I can say here is to use as little of this mixture as you think you can get away with.
Granola is so easy to make, great for hostess / holiday gifts, and you get the side benefit of your kitchen smelling like Christmas.
So NOW I’m thinking of turning it into Holiday Potpourri…
My Favorite Granola With Lots of Dried Fruit
Makes about 3 cups
- 1 1/2 cups rolled oats
- 1/3 cup ground flax seed (or wheat germ)
- 2 tablespoons roasted sunflower seeds
- 2 tablespoons salted roasted pumpkin seeds
- 2 tablespoons cacao nibs
- 1/2 cup dried fruit, minced (I used a combo of dried apricots, currants and tart cherries)
- 1/4 cup brown sugar
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1/4 teaspoon ground cardamom
- 2 tablespoons honey
- 2 tablespoons pomegranate molasses (or regular molasses)
- 1 tablespoons maple syrup
- 1 tablespoon vegetable oil (I used canola oil)
- Preheat the oven to 250° F. In a large mixing bowl, combine all the dry ingredients, spices, dried fruit, and cacao nibs. Mix well with your hands or a large spoon.
- In a small bowl, mix the honey, molasses, vegetable oil, and maple syrup together until well combined. Stir in the brown sugar, cinnamon, salt and cardamom until the brown sugar is completely absorbed by the liquid. Add to the dry mixture and mix well with a large spoon or spatula until everything is well coated.
- Spread the granola mixture evenly on a baking sheet and bake for 30-35 minutes. It’s important to stir the mixture every 8-10 minutes pulling all the mixture from the edges and corners into the middle of the baking sheet and re-spreading the mixture. You might also want to rotate the cookie sheet after each stirring.
- The granola is done when the mixture starts to darken a shade or two and you can smell the spices in the mixture.
- Remove from the oven and allow to dry until crispy (about 10-15 minutes).
- If you’re keeping a stash for yourself, store in sealed baggies or jars. I’ve kept mine stored like this up to a month. It might keep fresh longer; it just doesn’t last that long in my house….