When I first started making my own granola, the family couldn’t get enough of it. I would give granola to family and friends as gifts and they would frequently ask for the recipe. My friend, Kay, referred to it as crack. The name stuck. We started calling it Crack-ola Granola. Yes, it was nutritionally dense, packed with protein, vitamins, minerals, fiber, and antioxidants, but it was also sweet and salty, which is what made it so addictive and high in calories.
I recently read Michael Moss’s bestseller, Salt Sugar Fat: How the Food Giants Hooked Us. He wrote, “To make a new soda guaranteed to create a craving requires the high math of regression analysis and intricate charts to plot what industry insiders call the “bliss point,” or the precise amount of sugar or fat or salt that will send consumers over the moon.” With the concept of the bliss point in mind, I began to work on tailoring my recipe to reign in the salt and sugar content with their addictive qualities and to decrease the calories. I had to make quite a few batches to get to a healthier and tolerable bliss point.
Here is how I changed my recipe.
-I cut back on the brown sugar by 75%.
-I cut back on the salt by 33%.
-I substituted sorghum for honey, and olive oil for canola.
Here is a list of the dry ingredients and their corresponding nutritional attributes (starting with the bowl of coconut at the top of the photo):
Coconut: fiber, iron, zinc
Pecans: antioxidants, vitamin E, protein
Craisins: antioxidants, fiber
Ground Flax Seed: omega 3’s, fiber, protein & lignans
Raw Pumpkin Seeds: magnesium, zinc, omega 3’s
Brown Sugar: calcium, iron
Wheat Germ: vitamin E & folic acid
Raw Sunflower Seeds: vitamin E & magnesium
Almonds: protein, fiber, vitamin E, minerals
Old-Fashioned Rolled Oats: lowers LDL cholesterol, fiber
8 cups old-fashioned oats
2 cups wheat germ
1 cup ground flax seed
¼ cup brown sugar
1 cup raw, unsalted, sunflower seeds
1 cup raw, unsalted, pumpkin seeds
2 cups chopped pecans (or walnuts)
1 cup slivered or sliced almonds
1 cup unsweetened, shredded coconut
¼ cup chia seeds
1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
2 teaspoons sea salt
2/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
2/3 cup sorghum syrup (or honey)
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 cup hot water (not boiling)
2 cups dried cranberries (or raisins)
Yield: 4.5 pounds
Preheat oven to 275º
In a large bowl, mix together: oats, wheat germ, flax, brown sugar, seeds, nuts, coconut, cinnamon, and salt.
Into a 4 cup liquid measure, pour the olive oil to the 2/3 cup line, add the sorghum to the 1-1/3 cup line, add the hot water to the 2- 1/3 cup line, and finally, add the vanilla. Stir together with a whisk.
Pour liquid ingredients over dry ingredients and immediately mix with a large spatula until the liquid and dry ingredients are uniformly incorporated into one another.
Pour mixture into two 13″ by 18″ baking pans lightly sprayed with cooking spray.
Bake for one hour, stirring every 20 minutes. Once out of the oven, add the cranberries and mix together. Allow to cool. The granola will become crunchy as it cools. Store in an airtight container. Freezes well.
A nut free alternative:
My son asked me to tweak the recipe so he could enjoy homemade granola without nuts. I looked for ways to replace the sweet crunchiness that would be lost when I removed the nuts. He told me that flax seeds and chia seeds were in a nut-free product he regularly bought at the store. I added both of those and also increased the pumpkin and sunflower seeds.
The chia seeds added a nice crunch and I now include them in my regular granola recipe. They are high in fiber and protein. The word “chia” comes from the Mayan word for “strength” and apparently athletes swear by them for improving their endurance while exercising. The chia seeds are on the right. The flax seeds are on the left.
You may be wondering where you have heard the word “chia” before:
A tasty and nutritious breakfast:
I enjoy having a half cup of granola with plain kefir for breakfast. Kefir is a slightly sour tasting probiotic drink that tastes like liquid yogurt. Kefir can be found in most grocery stores in the health foods section. If you add berries to the top, it’s like eating a healthy sundae for breakfast!
© 2016 Judy Wright. All rights reserved. No photos or text may be used without written consent.