Our grandson, Collin, is very allergic to peanuts and probably to all nuts, so whenever we send a care package to Sarah and Chris, we have to make sure there isn’t a molecule of nuttiness in the box. Well, we can put the silly Tim-style nuttiness in the packages, but not the eating kind. Do you know how many food items have some kind of nut in them, or are processed in a plant that also processes nuts? Yikes! Read the ingredients and read the fine print at the bottom of the ingredient list.
Even better, don’t buy processed foods.
I love sending my homemade granola in care packages to all of our kids — it’s easy to pack, travels well and seems to go over pretty well with the recipients. I started making granola when I lived in a large household of college students in the 70s. Back then our granola had lots of sweetener (honey or maple syrup) and vegetable oil to crisp it up. That granola recipe evolved over the years — in fact it changes almost every time I make it, depending on what we have in the pantry. Now that Tim and I are trying to eat without oils and sweeteners, I have adapted the recipe even more. So it was an easy step to go nutless for Collin. We love you, Collin!
Making your own granola is really easy. In fact, it’s something you can make while you are doing Saturday chores, or cooking dinner in the oven. You just need a big bowl, the ingredients, a cookie sheet or baking pan, and your oven. Easy Peasy. Here’s my current no-nuts granola recipe.
- 8 cups raw rolled oats (you can also use rye, triticale or kamut)
- 4 cups (total) puffed brown rice and/or puffed millet
- 1 cup flax meal
- 1/2 cup sesame seeds
- 1 cup sunflower seeds
- 1/2 cup chia seeds (optional)
- 2 cups dried fruit (I like to use apricots, peaches, cranberries, dried tart cherries, dried apples, golden raisins)
- 1 cup unsweetened coconut flakes (large flakes are better than shredded)
- 2 T or more, orange or lemon zest
- 2 tsp vanilla
- 1/4 cup coconut oil
- 1/4 cup maple syrup (optional)
- Heat the coconut oil and maple syrup until the oil is liquified and a little bubbly. Add the vanilla to this mixture and set aside.
- Mix the grains and seeds in a large bowl. Pour the oil mixture over it and mix it all thoroughly. Put the grains in a 13 x 9 inch baking dish or spread out on a cookie sheet that has a rim.
- Bake at 350F until golden brown, stirring a couple of times because the outside edges of the granola brown first and you want it to brown evenly. Watch the granola while you are roasting it so it doesn’t get overdone (if you brown it too much it has a bitter taste.)
- While the granola is baking, cut up your dried fruits. As soon as the granola is out of the oven, pour it back into the large bowl, add the fruit and stir to combine. Let it sit until totally cool before you store it.
You can vary this recipe almost infinitely.
- If you are not going for the nut-free-version, then add your nuts (like walnuts, sliced almonds, or pecans) before baking the granola. Bake as above. The nuts will have a delightful toasted flavor.
- Add more or less sweetener as you like. When I am making granola for just us, I don’t add sweetener at all. The dried fruit is sweet enough for us.
- Add more or less oil, or use a different type of oil if you want. We use coconut oil for a couple of reasons. It has many nutrients other oils don’t have plus … the taste is awesome! I also make a toasted “muesli” that is exactly like this recipe but without the oil or sweetener. That’s even healthier if you are trying to avoid oils/added fats in your diet.
- I use the puffed brown rice and puffed millet to bulk up the granola without making it too heavy. You can buy these at Whole Foods. We buy them in bags or bulk at the Real Food Market in Helena. I like Arrowhead Mills brand of the puffs. We sometimes use already toasted millet, barley or brown rice — it’s crunchier and smaller than the puffed stuff. If you are not avoiding corn or wheat — those are also available puffed, and are a delicious addition to granola. Find the kind with nothing added. Just the pure puffed grain.
- The seeds add protein and chewiness, plus alot of anti-oxidants and Omega3 fatty acids. One of the reasons I add a little oil and maple syrup to granola we make for our kids, is to make the seeds and flax meal stick to the larger grains. Otherwise, they sink to the bottom of the jar or bag and the last person to have granola gets a bowlful of the teeny stuff.
- Dried fruit tip: waiting until the granola is baked prevents the dried fruits from getting too crispy. Also, stirring it into the HOT granola cooks the fruit a little, making it just perfectly chewy.
- Flavorings: I like the taste of vanilla with all the grains. You can also add other extracts such as almond, orange, or lemon.
- I have made granola with homemade applesauce instead of oil and added sweetener. This is delicious. Blend the applesauce before adding to the grains, so there are not chunks of apples. Bake a little longer. It won’t be as crisp as the other granola but it’s still yummy! This granola doesn’t last as long in the pantry because the applesauce isn’t dried out. I store it in the freezer.