I ate granola every day in college with a little plain yogurt and maybe some honey; it was comfort food for me. I never made it myself until one day, my senior year, I finally flipped over the box and read the calorie count. What a shock: a whopping 480 calories per small serving I’d been eating every day for 3 years. (Disclaimer: I’ve never been someone to shy away from calories, I mean come on, I owned a bakery for 4 years ok. I’ve been known to eat 3 chocolate croissants in a sitting and I really can’t be left alone in the house with ice cream in the freezer.) But I draw the line at granola; I mean it’s supposed to be good for you, right? After a short peruse of the grocery store cereal isle, I found that pretty much all the commercial granola is loaded with calories (some from the nuts, but also from lots of oil and sugar.) Unwilling to give up my breakfast routine, I set out to make my own healthier version – a little trial and error and I came up with this recipe. Since then, I’ve tried lots of different recipes, and though I do diverge from time to time (I make one with peanut butter and banana chip that I’ll save for another time), this is my go to recipe for granola. Sweetened lightly with maple syrup and a little brown sugar, no oil or added fat, crunchy, nutty, and lightly toasted, it’s everything I want in my granola. I make it with whatever nuts and dried fruits I have in my pantry – this version had everything except the kitchen sink: hazelnuts, pistachios, slivered almonds, dried cherries, dried apricots, and a handful of cacao nibs*. Mix and match whatever you have on hand. Makes one big bag of granola, roughly 12-20 servings depending on size.
*Cacao nibs (small pieces of raw unsweetened cacao beans) are a favorite in my house – antioxidant rich, they make me feel like I’m eating chocolate for breakfast. If you use nibs, toast them along with the nuts and oats to bring out their flavor.
For the Granola
- ½ cup pure maple syrup (can substitute agave or honey)
- 3 tbsp brown sugar
- ¼ cup water
- 4 cups rolled oats
- 1 cup coarsely chopped nuts
- ½ tsp fine grain sea salt
- ½ cup dried fruit
In a small sauce pan, combine the maple syrup, brown sugar, and water and cook until the sugar dissolves. Remove from the heat and set aside. Mix together the oats, nuts, and salt in a large bowl and pour over the warm maple syrup mixture. Mix well, making sure all the oats are coated and no clumps remain. Spread the granola on a baking sheet and bake 20 minutes, rotating and stirring after 10 minutes. While the granola is toasting, prepare the dried fruit as needed – pit/de-stem and chop into bit sized pieces. Remove the granola from the oven, cool 10-20 minutes, then transfer to a large bowl or zip lock bag and mix in the dried fruit. If using a zip lock bag, don’t close it until the granola’s completely cool to avoid soggy granola.
Some Ideas for the Nuts and Fruit:
Pecans (1cup), chopped dried pears (1/2 cup), and cacao nibs (1/4 cup)
Dried cranberries (1/4 cup), chopped dried apples (1/4 cup), slivered almonds (1/2 cup), pepitas (1/2 cup), and cinnamon (1 tsp) in with the maple syrup mixture
Sesame seeds (1/4 cup), chopped cashews (1 cup), and finely grated orange zest (1 tsp) in with the maple syrup mixture
Dried figs (1/2 cup) and chopped hazelnuts (1 cup)
Sliced dried dates (1/2 cup), and chopped walnuts (1 cup)
Dried cherries (1/2 cup), slivered almonds (1 cup), and almond extract (1/2 tsp) in with the maple syrup mixture