I’m in love with granola lately, a snack that I hadn’t really paid much attention to until I made it myself. 😉 this is sooooooo good. I always tried to avoid granola since I was under the impression it wasn’t really “healthy” per se, but when you make it yourself and control the ingredients…well, I deem it “healthy-for-me.” I was inspired to make my own after seeing a recipe from one of my favorite blogs, the smitten kitchen – and after a few tweaks to the recipe (just to suit my tastes) and a couple of tries….I’ve found what I consider to be the-most-addicting-granola-ever. 🙂 let me know what you think!
my favorite granola recipe
adapted from smitten kitchen
1 2/3 cups quick rolled oats (if gluten-free, be sure to use gluten-free oats)
1/2 to 3/4 cup granulated sugar (I used 1/2 cup as I tend to prefer it less sweet, use more for your preference)
1/3 cup chia seeds
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
2 to 3 cups dried fruits and nuts (total of 10 to 15 ounces)*
1/3 cup peanut butter (or you can use almond butter)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
6 tablespoons melted butter
1/4 cup brown rice syrup, honey, or maple syrup
2 tablespoons light corn syrup
1 tablespoon water
Preheat the oven to 350F. Line an 8″ x 8″ x 2″ (note: I used a larger, 9 x 13 pan and it was still perfect…your preference for size; thick & chewy or thin & chewy) pan in one direction with parchment paper, allowing it to go up the opposing sides. Lightly grease the parchment paper and the exposed pan, or coat with a non-stick spray. Melt your butter.
Stir together all the dry ingredients, including the fruit and nuts. In a separate bowl, whisk together the vanilla, melted butter, liquid sweeteners and water. Toss the wet ingredients with the dry (and peanut butter, if you’re using it) until the mixture is evenly crumbly. Spread in the prepared pan, pressing them in firmly to ensure they are molded to the shape of the pan. (A piece of plastic wrap can help with this, as you press down on the back of it.)
Bake the bars for 30 to 40 minutes, until they’re brown around the edges — don’t be afraid to get a little color on the tops too. They’ll still seem soft and almost underbaked when you press into the center of the pan but do not worry, they’ll set completely once completely cool.
Cool the bars in their pan completely on a cooling rack. (Alternately, after about 20 minutes you can use your parchment “sling” to lift and remove the bars, and place them in their paper on the rack to cool the rest of the way. This can speed the process up.)
Note: If you want granola bars, once the granola has cooled, put them in the fridge to further set for 30 mins to 1 hour..as I found it a bit crumbly when NOT adding the refrigerator step. However, if you’re just looking for some chunky granola and NOT bars, then let them cool and crumble to your hearts pleasure if they don’t seem sticky enough for bars. they are still some-kind-of-good.
Once cooled from the fridge, use a serrated knife (or bench knife) to cut the bars into squares. To store, wrap the bars individually in plastic or stack them in an airtight container. In humid weather, it’s best to store bars in the refrigerator. They also freeze well.
*I used 2 cups that consisted of a mixture of dried apricots, raisins, dried cranberries, and chopped pecans. You can use whatever variation you like of dried fruits and nuts like dates (DELISH!), dried cherries, almonds, shredded coconut, etc.