Multi-Grain Granola

One of the best tricks to cooking cheap whole food is using what you can find on sale, or is usually a good price where you are. Granola, while it seems like an expensive thing to make, can actually be a great price if you use the things on hand. The other cool thing about granola is that it can take a lot of variation. It is basically just roasted grains with some kind of thing to stick them together (honey, syrup, oil, etc.).

We love granola because in literally 15 minutes, I can put together a big batch that will last us for a couple of weeks. It is filling, healthy, and easy to grab a handful of for a snack. It is wonderful with yogurt, good with milk, and great just by itself. We use granola instead of store-bought cold cereals, which have so much sugar and preservatives in them and are just plain expensive. 

This recipe is one I have developed from the things I found at my whole foods store and local grocery for reasonable prices. You can substitute in whatever grains/ seeds/ nuts you can find. Make it as complex or as simple as you like. Think of this as an example... use your imagination to make your own!

I'd like to list the prices for you so you can see what I make this for... but I had all the ingredients in my kitchen and honestly haven't a clue what they each cost at this point. It has been a couple weeks since that grocery run. I can tell you for those of you in Oklahoma City that I got the oats as "old fashioned oats" at Buy For Less in Bethany, I got the flax, millet, honey, and almonds at Sprouts (63rd and May), and I got the puffed rice and cinnamon at Spices of India (39th and Portland).

Pick your grains first. As I already said, I used oats, millet, flax, and puffed rice for my grains. You can use as few as one grain (probably oats), or as many as you like. Think rolled quinoa, buckwheat, rolled spelt, rolled amaranth, rolled wheat berries.

Then, pick nuts. Again, you can do as few or as many as you like. I used almonds, because they were on sale. You could use peanuts, pecans, cashews, walnuts, etc. Also, think about spices. I just used cinnamon, partly because it was cheap and partly to keep the flavor of the granola simple since I already had so many grains.

Finally, choose what you are going to use to hold the granola together, usually a sweet syrupy part (think honey, agave nectar, maple syrup, molasses, sorghum) and an oil part (such as vegetable oil, olive oil, coconut oil, or almond oil). The more "clumpy" you want it, the more sticky stuff you add. For mine today, I used honey and vegetable oil. At the amounts I used, it does form clumps but they fall apart fairly easily.

Mix all your ingredients together, and spread out on a cookie sheet. Cook at a high heat, I did 400F (200C) until granola is nice and toasted. It cooks really fast, keep a good eye on it. Mine cooked for about 15/20 minutes. Then take it out, and let it cool at least somewhat on the cookie sheet before scraping it off. Cooling it on the sheet allows it to dry out and clump together some. However, if you wait too long to scrape it up, you will end up with quite a job on your hands, as it will probably stick!

There you have it! Granola! What I did was make a few small batches until I figured out how I liked it -- what grains, how clumpy, how sweet, etc. I would recommend you do the same, until you figure out exactly what you like.

Here is exactly what I used for mine today: (warning: this granola is not very sweet at all. If you want it to be sweet, add more honey or some sugar or you could always eat it with sweet fruit or yogurt.)

Multi-grain Granola (print recipe)
4c rolled oats
3c puffed rice
1c flax seeds
1c millet
1c almonds, chopped
1/3c honey
1/4c vegetable oil
3Tb cinnamon

Preheat oven to 400F. Mix all ingredients in large bowl. Spread on cookie about 1/2 to 1 inch thick. Bake for 15-20 minutes, until golden brown. Let cool. Scrape off cookie sheet and place in sealed jar. Keeps for a long time. 

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