On this oat-centric blog, you may have noticed a massive absence: WHERE’S THE GRANOLA?!
Yes, in a blog of all things oats, the granola recipes are conspicuously absent. The thing is, I don’t like granola that much. Well, no, that’s not entirely true, either. It’s not that simple.
I never cared much for commercial (store-bought) granola. I never enjoyed granola and yogurt parfaits in restaurants or coffee shops. I found the granola flavorless, stale, and sad.
My first positive experience with granola was in Newark three years ago. Once a month, a group of staff members at the school signed up to provide a breakfast for the rest of the staff. As you can see, we took it very seriously. On my group’s day, we had a full (homemade) crepe bar with all types of fruits, jams, homemade “apple pie filling,” plus eggs, bacon, sausage, bagels, coffee, tea, juice, and basically EVERYTHING EVER:
ANYWAY, that was just me bragging. Let’s get back to granola.
On this particular day (Positive Experience with Granola Day), one administrator brought homemade granola. As she set out the large bowl of crunchy, toasty goodness, she apologized profusely for overcooking and oversalting it. Not expecting much (since I never cared for granola in the first place), I tried a bit, and I decided at that moment that it was one of the best things I ever tasted, slightly burnt and oversalted and all.
(In fact, to this day, I intentionally overbake and oversalt my granola. 😛 )
So why do I say I don’t like granola? Maybe it’s more that granola doesn’t like me. When I eat oatmeal, my stomach says, “Thank you. The intestines and I are happy with this choice.” When I eat granola, my entire digestive system enters atomic warfare. So much sugar. So much oil/fats. So addicting, leading me to eat an excessive amount, leading to an even worse stomach ache. Oh, the torture!
So you see, I rarely make granola, and when I do, it’s never for myself. Instead, I have developed a reputation of giving homemade granola as gifts, or bringing massive batches of granola to food events (such as when the teachers provided special breakfasts for the students on state testing days). So despite the fact that I rarely eat granola myself, I know a thing or two about making it.
(As you can see, 98 weeks ago, I was a little too filter-obsessed.)
While many blogs out there are making super creative and interesting granola recipes (akin to what I do with oatmeal), when I’m serving a crowd or giving a gift, I usually have to stick with the basics. For example, when serving granola to a cafeteria full of middle-schoolers, I not only have to consider picky eaters, but also allergies (especially nut allergies). For this reason, my go-to recipes are the simplest and easiest to adapt.
No nuts? No dried fruit? No coconut? I need to make all of that work sometimes. After all, I know more than a handful of people who refuse to eat coconut or dried fruit. Thus, the granola you see pictured here contains sunflower seeds, almonds, and dried cranberries cut into tiny, tiny, tiny, tiny pieces (to provide flavor and sweetness in the least noticeable way). The person who received this granola (who loathes coconut and dried fruit) approved.
Here are the recipes I’ve used multiple times (and have never failed me):
- A super easy and adaptable recipe that allows you to use whatever you want! (The baking time listed is a little off; I bake for 2-3x as long as what it says, and don’t forget to stir the granola halfway through the baking process.)
- Coconut Almond Granola that uses less oil – perfect if you’re running low 🙂
- And finally, Carrot Cake Granola, for when I’m feeling fancy and I know the recipient isn’t picky.
Finally, since so many people are asking me about granola recipes, here are sites that host a gazillion fun granola recipes:
- The Breakfast Drama Queen (of course!)
- Oh She Glows
- Minimalist Baker (my all-time favorite food blog!)
- Gimme Some Oven
- The Nutritious Kitchen
- Half-Baked Harvest
And if all else fails, just search Pinterest. Just like with oatmeal, the possibilities with granola are endless!