I know this goes without saying . . . but almost anything you can make yourself is just SO much better than what you can buy. With homemade goods, you can tailor everything–flavor, taste, healthy-ness (or lack thereof)–to just what you want. Don’t like raisins? Leave them out. Prefer macadamias to almonds? Use what you like. Like your cookies burnt at the edges or raw in the middle? Absolutely.
Granola is probably my favorite example of something that is best made at home. It’s easy to make in quantities small or large, can be tailored to your tastes with nuts, fruits, spices, etc., it keeps really well for weeks in an airtight container, and best of all, what you make at home can be light years healthier than what you buy at the store. Or not. It’s up to you!
Also, granola isn’t just flexible in terms of how you make it, it’s flexible in terms of how you eat it. Granola is great with milk (duh), and yogurt (double duh), and of course fruit, but it’s also great on ice cream, in cookies, tossed into a salad, turned into a crumble or crisp . . .and I’ll have to post recipes for all those things eventually!
Don’t be fooled by all the granola recipes you’ll find that call for butter or oil and sugar–you really don’t need it. Try out this applesauce version and tell me it doesn’t taste just as good without the extra fat and sugar!
Just Plain Good Granola
- 3 cups rolled oats (quick cook oats also work, but make a crispier granola)
- 2 cups puffed rice cereal
- 1 cup flaked coconut
- 1 cup raw almonds
- anything else you like (I tossed in the last 1/2 cup of a trail mix I had on hand)
- 1 cup applesauce
- 2 Tbs maple syrup
- 2 Tbs honey
- 1 tsp vanilla
- 1 tsp cinnamon
- 1/2 tsp salt
Mix together all dry ingredients in a large bowl. In a medium bowl, stir together applesauce, maple syrup, honey, vanilla, cinnamon and salt. Pour over dry ingredients and mix well. Spread out on two cookie sheets lined with parchment or silpat mats. Bake at 325 for approximately 1 hour, turning with a large spatula every 15 to 20 minutes. Granola is done when you decide it is done, so choose your own level of brown and crispiness! But keep in mind that it will continue to cook a little after you remove it from the oven, so you don’t want to overdo it. When done, cool completely. When the granola is cool, you can mix in dried fruits, nuts that have already been toasted, or anything else that sounds good to your particular tastebuds. Store in an airtight container and enjoy!