Granola, Better Homemade

Using two cookbooks for one oft-used recipe, mainly the penciled notes in each, finally got old. It’s time to write it out. Is it mine, or theirs (see footnote)? A now-retired newspaper food editor once told me not to worry: “At conferences, we all agree, if you change more than the amounts of salt and pepper, it’s then your own recipe.” It still feels like plagiarizing, though.

This is a no-fat, fairly low-sugar granola. Store-bought granolas, including restaurant granolas, are whole grain, but if you’re wanting healthy, realize they’re loaded with oil and sweeteners. Keep a tub of this granola in your fridge, and, at about 1 teaspoon of sugar a serving, granola can be a daily cereal not an occasional “morning dessert.” Making it in a large skillet adds to the convenience; takes less than a half-hour. Slightly revised 10 October 2013

  • 6 cups rolled grains, mostly or all oats
  • 2 cups raw nuts and seeds, variety, with large ones roughly chopped
  • 1 cup shredded, raw coconut, preferably unsweetened (optional)
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar, packed OR maple syrup OR honey
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cardamon (optional)
  • 4 Tablespoons carob powder OR cocoa powder (optional)
  • 1 cup dried fruit, if not raisins then chopped to raisin size (optional)

Place heavy, 12-inch frypan on stove on medium heat. After 3-4 minutes to preheat, pour in the grains. Toast for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add nuts and toast for 8 minutes, stirring occasionally.

While granola is cooking, in a medium bowl mix brown sugar, salt, spices and optional carob or cocoa, breaking up clumps. If instead using honey or syrup, mix the spices together in a bowl, without adding in the liquid sweetener.

Add coconut to pan, and toast for 2 minutes, stirring more frequently.

Turn off heat and take pan off burner. A.) Pour brown-sugar mixture evenly over surface of granola then mix in, stirring constantly for 2-3 minutes. Or B.) Stir in spice mixture then honey or syrup. The sweetener melds into the other ingredients, but you don’t want it to stick to the pan and burn, so stir hard.

Place pan on cake rack to cool, about an hour. Mix in dried fruit. Makes 8-10 cups. Store in refrigerator. Makes 16-20 half-cup servings, with milk or yogurt. Or sprinkle over fruit; you know the routine.


Granolas are made for variations. Virtually any kind of nut or seed is fine. Often, I mix in hulled, raw sunflower seeds with slivered or sliced almonds. Peanuts and sesame seeds might be tasty for you but don’t work for me in a granola. Chopped dried dates, figs and apricots are wonderful, but raisins are easy to find. Natural food stores with bulk-food aisles are great for granola ingredients.

Rolled grains. Rolled oats should comprise the majority, but a cup of rolled rye and another of rolled barley add variety in color and taste. I don’t use rolled wheat because I eat so much wheat elsewhere in the day; a half-cup of wheat bran or wheat germ is nice, though (include in the total 6 cups grain). Don’t use instant or quick oats etc. because either will turn to powder. No steel-cut or stone-ground, Irish or Scottish, oats. Go for old-fashioned, five-minute oats.

Carob powder. Carob is no more a chocolate substitute than tofu is a meat replacement. Carob is mellower and muskier than cocoa. Buy in the bulk aisle so you’re not stuck with a pound of it. The granola will be fine without either.

Credit: Still Life with Menu, Mollie Katzen, 1988; How to Cook Everything Vegetarian, Mark Bittman, 2007.

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