Best Ever Granola – the most addictively delicious granola you’ll ever have the pleasure of meeting!
Last summer we spent a long weekend with family in the North Carolina mountains. Whenever we’re all together on a vacation, my daughter Cait, daughter-in-law Lindsay and myself take turns planning the meals and enjoy helping each other in the kitchen.
Lindsay brought a big container of homemade granola for breakfasts and snacking. “This is so good!”, I told her one day, as I nibbled on a little handful.
“Well, thank you. But it’s your recipe”, she laughed.
“Really? Why does yours taste so much better than mine?” I asked. She said she followed the recipe, but had made a few little adaptations…
We talked about the few little tweaks she had made and that one of them was cutting back a bit on the sweeteners (brown sugar and maple syrup) in the original recipe. I loved that it still tasted fantastic without as much sweetener! Another difference in Lindsay’s granola, is that she keeps it quite simple with just oats, slivered almonds and coconut. I had gotten into adding all kinds of seeds and nuts to my granola (which there’s nothing wrong with) but with hers, the delicious, pure flavor of the oats and coconut come shining through.
Lindsay also recommended the shredded coconut from Trader Joe’s. I didn’t think the brand of coconut would make much difference, but I decided to try it. It does! Even though it’s labeled “sweetened” there’s not as much sugar as in most other sweetened coconuts. Plus it’s slightly toasted already, so it doesn’t clump together like other brands do. And I love that there’s nothing “weird” in the list of ingredients, just coconut and sugar. All and all, it’s just wonderful for granola, and I pick up a bag or two each time I’m at Trader Joes. If you don’t have a Trader Joes to shop at, you can order it online or just look at the labels and try to find a coconut that’s not loaded with preservatives.
So, ever since our trip to the mountains, I’ve been playing a bit with the old family recipe, using Lindsay’s modifications along with a few of my own. My granola is simpler, but better than ever and I couldn’t wait to share it with you. Just a little warning though, it’s ridiculously addictive! I guess there could be a whole lot worse things to be addicted to, right?
I like making a double batch and freezing it in wide mouth quart jars. I keep a small jar in the pantry and when it gets low, just refill it from the freezer. Once thawed this stuff tastes just like it was freshly made.
This super-easy-to-make granola makes a lovely treat for friends, neighbors, teachers, etc. and is always greatly appreciated. It’s also a wonderful way to start the day. Most mornings here at The Café begin with yogurt and fresh fruit (whatever’s in season) topped with a handful of granola. Right now we’re enjoying it with sliced clementines, diced fresh pineapple and dried cranberries – delish!
Next time you’re shopping, pick up a few every day ingredients and you’ll be good to go. It takes about 10 minutes to throw together and just over an hour to bake. If you can, try to let it cool before you start sampling. Once you take the first taste, you’ll probably be hooked like we are. And unless Lindsay comes up with something better, I have a feeling you’ll agree, this is the Best Ever Granola!
P.S. There are a few more days left to take the Reader Survey 2016. We’ve had a wonderful response and have loved learning what you like as well as things you’d like to see improved here at The Café. In fact, this recipe is in response to several requests: “More heathy recipes” and “More BEST” recipes. If you haven’t had a chance to fill out the survey, here’s a chance to add your input!
Note: Lindsay doesn’t add the sesame or flax seed that I’ve included in my recipe. Both are powerhouses of nutrition and I don’t notice any difference in taste but feel free to omit these if you want.
- 2 ½ cups rolled oats, old fashioned
- 1 cup sliced almonds*
- 1 cup slivered almonds*
- ½ cup flax seed or sesame seeds
- 1 cup shredded (I use sweetened) coconut**
- ¾ teaspoon salt
- 9-10 tablespoons pure maple syrup*** start with 9 and take a taste before baking. If you like it a little sweeter add another tablespoon.
- ¼ cup coconut oil****
- 1 tablepoon vanilla extract
- Preheat oven to 250˚F. Line two sheet pans with parchment paper (parchment paper works better than foil for this as the granola doesn't stick). Set aside.
- Combine maple syrup, coconut oil, vanilla and salt. Stir to combine. Set aside
- Combine oats, almonds, coconut and flax (or sesame seeds) in a large bowl. Stir to combine. Add maple syrup mixture and stir gently till combined.
- Spread mixture out evenly onto prepared pan. Pat it down gently with a spoon or spatula. Bake at 250 degrees for 1 hour and 15 minutes or until medium golden brown. Watch it for the last 15 or so minutes, so it doesn't get too brown. On the other hand, if it's not nice and golden after the complete baking time, give it another 10 minutes.
- Let mixture cool completely then lift the parchment paper and it will break into shards. As you transfer it to storage containers, it will break up more, but some of it will stay in clumps. Store in an airtight container. I keep mine in wide-mouth mason jars. I keep a small jar in the pantry and store the rest in the freezer. When you take it out of the freezer and thaw it, it's exactly like you just made it.
** Lindsay turned me on to the coconut at Trader Joes. It's fantastic with no weird ingredients on the label. The kind they've always carried is sweetened, but I just noticed they've started carrying unsweetened as well.
*** Use pure maple syrup, not pancake syrup.(The amount of this was changed from the original recipe as error occurred when the recipe was transferred from my file.)
**** This is one of the secrets, don't use other oil. I usually get my coconut oil at Aldi or Trader Joes.