Healthy Espresso Chunky Granola

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I have finally combined my two loves.  Granola and coffee.  All is right with the world.

Now I just need to get a picture of Tilda Swinton lying on a bed of it then I can die happy.

No creepin’.

Recipe: (baking time 1 hour)

3 cups oats (old fashion)
2 tbsp oat flour (ground oats) – can also use whole wheat flour
2 tbsp flax seed
1/2 cup almonds (raw, chopped)
1/4 cup sunflower seeds (raw)
3 tbsp cocoa powder
3 tbsp espresso powder
1/2 cup applesauce (unsweetened)
1/2 cup strong coffee – can also you water
1 tsp cinnamon (optional)
1 tsp vanilla
3/4 tsp salt
2 tbsp white sugar

Preheat oven: 300°

On Pinterest I saw people talking about how they didn’t want to add wheat flour to one of my granola recipes so they were adding some random flour I can’t think of right now.  Instead of going to all that trouble/money of buying some of obscure gluten free flour just grind up 2 tbsp of your oats in a blender, food processor, or be weird like me and do it in your coffee grinder.

Don’t judge me on my cheap coffee grinder, our $200 one broke (relax, we didn’t spend that much on it) and we couldn’t get ourselves to buy another nice one. 😦

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Oat flour!

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Add your oats, flour, seeds and nuts to a bowl.

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In a pot over low heat combine your cocoa powder, espresso powder, coffee, vanilla, applesauce, and cinnamon (I just love cinnamon and coffee together and have a hard time not adding them together).  Wait to add the salt and sugar.

I’ve started buying my applesauce in bulk (well just the bigger jars anyway) and freezing it in 4 oz sizes.  So that’s why it looks weird.  I used to buy it in those 4 oz tubs but you save a little bit when you buy it in the jars, those stupid jars just always go bad on me.  Hence the freezing.

I guess looking at the picture you probably wouldn’t have realized it was frozen and I didn’t need to explain that.  Oh well, maybe you’ll start freezing your applesauce too.

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Heat and stir until combined.  Add 1/2 tsp of salt  and 1 tbsp sugar.

Taste it!  Does it taste like ass?  Then fix it.  Whether or not it tastes good will entirely depend on your espresso/coffee because my recipe is flawless.  Just kidding, but no seriously.  Your espresso may require you to add a little bit more salt.  Salt neutralizes bitterness better than sugar so add 1/2 tsp salt and 1 tbsp sugar.  Taste it.  If you notice there’s not much of a bitter flavor, (it will still have a very strong coffee flavor, don’t confuse the two) then you’re good with the salt.   Add the other tbsp of sugar if you need it, I did.

My espresso powder was of the cheaper variety so I needed to add a little bit more salt to neutralize the not so pleasant bitterness (there’s a difference between pleasant bitterness and not so pleasant–and my stuff is cheap, I’ll admit that).

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Mix your dry ingredients together.  I forget this step all the time.  It’s annoying when you do.

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Pour your wet mixture into your dry.

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And mix until everything is thoroughly combined.

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Pour out onto a lightly greased baking sheet.

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Wet your hands and press down on the granola making it as flat as possible.  We’re going for around 1/4″ – 1/2″ thick.  Anymore than that and it’s going to take a lot longer to bake.

If you want more of a cluster thing then just loosely spread it around, but that’s stupid.

Bake in your 300° oven for 1 hour.

About 40 minutes in I pull the granola out and break apart the huge sheet into large chunks.  It will be soft but still stay together.  Flip around the chunks so pieces that were on the outside are now on the inside and sides that were touching the sheet are now exposed to the air.

Do you have to do this step?  No.  But you don’t have to make your own granola either.  Doing this allows the granola to bake faster and more evenly.  If you don’t, it will still bake it will just take around 2 hours and the sides will probably burn.

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Sexy.

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Perfect for days when you find yourself second guessing that 4th cup of coffee.  Who are we kidding?  Those days don’t exist.

Perfect for days that end in ‘y’.

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Healthy Chocolate Peanut Butter Banana Chunky Granola

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That title is a mouthful.  But I wanted you to know exactly what this granola is all about.  I’m a granola fanatic, check out my other recipes  – Apple Blueberry, Orange Chocolate, Tropical, Coconut Curry, with more to come.  I find it the perfect on the go snack with endless customization capabilities.

But even as much as I love granola, I’m sick of granola.  I don’t mean I’m sick of eating granola, because like I said, it’s the perfect snack.  I mean, I’m sick of the concept of granola.  Every time I get an idea for a granola I Google it to see if someone has already done it.  To this day I’m still hopeful I will find a recipe that sounds so amazing I will follow it to the letter.  It has yet to happen.  Instead I’m bombarded by granola recipes using 1/4 cup of sugar, 1/4 cup of honey/syrup, and 1/2 cup of oil for 3-4 cups of oats.  Now some of you are thinking, well just add “healthy,” or “low oil” or “low sugar” to your search title and that should get rid of those recipes.  No, see this is a morning of ranting.  Those other people should have to add “high sugar,” “preposterous amounts of oil,” or “under the guise of healthy but really not”  to their search titles to get the granolas they desire.

The problem with most granolas recipes, and I’ve said this before (but it’s worth repeating) is that people turn it into candy.  Which is fine if you want candy, but then call it “Candy Granola.”  But why would people take something as wonderfully good for them as oats or nuts and coat them in oil and sugar?  Is it some game they play with themselves?  What level of deceit can I pass by my own mind today?  Stop with the foolishness.  If you want to eat candy, eat candy.  There’s no shame in it.  If you want to eat granola, eat granola.

These are snipped reviews from the most popular regular granola recipe I could find because I really just did not have anything better to do.  In actuality I just didn’t feel like doing the things I should be doing.

Reviewed Regular Granola (1/2 cup serving)

Calories 370
Fat 19 g
Carbohydrates 44 g
Sugar 20 g
Protein 8 g

“…wholesome & healthy & tasty”
“Will make it often for a healthy snack.”
“My toddler loves this too and keeps asking for more.”
“I try to give my kids food that are healthy, homemade and as natural as possible and I have tried many different granola’s but could never find one my kids would eat until now. They love it and ask for it every morning, they even help me make it. Thanks for having such healthy foods that I can feel comfortable making and giving them.”
“If you want to get the kids to eat it, substitute 1 cup of chocolate chips or m&m’s for 1 cup of raisins (not quite as healthy, but still MUCH better for you than a candy bar and boy is it good! Kind of a trail mix granola.) With the shredded coconut and the chocolate chips, it tastes like a healthy magic cookie bar.”
“Yummy, healthy and not too sweet.”

Mind you I only had to go about 20 reviews in to find this many claims of healthiness and how good it is for children.  Yeah this snack is better for your kids than a Snickers bar, but conning them into eating a pseudo healthy snack is in my mind way more detrimental.  And that whole thing about getting your kids to eat something.  My father wouldn’t let me leave the table until I finished my dinner or if I decided I didn’t want to eat whatever he was making I didn’t get to eat.  I feel like I’ve grown up into a fairly well adjusted adult despite that traumatic upbringing.  They’re your children, you’re not their catering service.

Edit: at first I took that one’s reviewer’s word for it, that whole “…MUCH better for you than a candy bar…” thing.   But then I thought about it and thought maybe it’s not, turns out it’s really not.

Snickers Bar (regular size 52.7 g)

Calories 250
Fat 12 g
Carbohydrates 33 g
Sugar 27 g
Protein 4 g

My Chocolate Peanut Butter Banana Granola (1/2 cup serving)

Calories 215
Fat 10 g
Carbohydrates 26 g
Sugar 5 g
Protein 8 g

The average American eats 22-28 teaspoons of sugar a day (that’s 110-130 grams or 350-440 empty calories).  Dietitians recommend we cap our added sugar intake to about 6.5-9.5 teaspoons a day (32.5-47.5 grams or 100-150 calories).  The popularly reviewed granola has 20 g of sugar in one serving, which is about half of the total consumption you should be aiming towards in one day.  And chances are you’re going to eat more than one serving of that.  My granola has 15 g of added sugar in the entire recipe, plus 3-5 g if you decide to use a sugarized peanut butter.

With the addition of peanut butter and banana I find this granola to be an excellent breakfast item when you’re in a rush.  It’s got a balanced amount of nutrients and with the huge chunks it turns into it’s easy to eat in whatever mode of transportation you take to whatever you’re going to.

My goal is to make this recipe look as easy as possible so everyone will start making their own granola.  Excluding baking time I can get a granola batch going in 5 minutes, that’s less time it takes to actually go to the store.  Unless you’re pulling a Natalie Portman in Home Is Where the Heart Is, but then I don’t think you would have access to a working stove…

Recipe:

1 banana (mashed)
3 1/2 cups oats (old fashion)
2 tbsp whole wheat flour
2 tbsp flax seed
1/2 cup sunflower seeds
1/4 cup peanut butter
1/2 cup peanuts (raw, chopped)
1/2 cup water
1/2 cup applesauce (unsweetened)
2 tbsp cocoa powder
1 tsp vanilla
1/4 tsp salt
1 tbsp white sugar
1/2 cup banana chips

Baking time: 1 – 1 1/2 hours

Preheat oven 300°

Add all your dry ingredients to a large mixing bowl: nuts, seeds, oats, flour, salt.

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Mix.

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Add all your wet ingredients to a pot over low heat: water, applesauce, peanut butter, cocoa powder, banana.  Heat just until everything is well integrated.  If you need it a little more sugary I would add 1 tbsp of brown sugar.

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Take off the heat and add your vanilla.

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Add your wet to your dry and mix.

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Mixture should clump in your hand without being too sticky.  You can really add as many nuts or whatever, add more/less peanut butter, more less chocolate to this recipe and any of these granola recipes.  As long you get this texture at the end everything should set up the way you want.

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Spread onto lightly oiled baking sheet.

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Mixture should be as flat as possible.  Sprinkle with your 1 tbsp of white sugar.  This is how I get away with not adding any sugar into the wet base.

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Bake at 300° for 1 – 1 1/2 hours.  I start checking on it at about 40 minutes to make sure nothing is starting to burn.  If it is I take it out, break it into medium large chunks, redistribute, yell profanities at my shitty stove, then check regularly until done.  You have to do the yelling part or it won’t work.  Crappy stoves only respond to negative reinforcement.  I’ve tried to be nice.

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While it’s cooling break apart into smaller chunks and add your banana chips or any other fruit you desire.

Healthy Peanut Butter and Jelly Chunky Granola

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I have a vagina so I, of course, love peanut butter.  That’s the way it works right?  I’m pretty sure that’s what every Rom Com and sitcom has taught me.  I don’t really have much more to say about that. This is my favorite out of all the other granolas I make.  So far I’ve posted Tropical, Apple Blueberry, and Orange Chocolate, with others to come.

Recipe:

3 cups old fashion oats
2 tbsp whole wheat flour
2 tbsp flax seed
1/4 cup sunflower seeds (raw)
1/2 cup peanuts (raw, chopped)
1/4 cup peanut butter
1/2 cup applesauce (unsweetened)
1/2 cup cranberry juice (light)
1 tbsp white sugar
1 tbsp jelly (optional, no sugar added)
1/4 tsp salt
1 tsp vanilla
1/2 cup raisins

Baking time: 1 hour

Preheat oven 300°

Add oats to a large mixing bowl.

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Followed by your flour.

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Flax seed.

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Salt.

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Nuts.

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Now add your liquid ingredients to a pan over low heat.  In other granola recipes I say this part is “kind of” optional (just to get all the flavors melded), this time you actually need to to melt the peanut butter.

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Use any kind of berry juice you feel like.

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While I prefer all natural peanut butter in my everyday life I use this Jif Natural Peanut Butter for my granola.  It’s got a little sugar in it, which allows me to not add as much myself, but the choice is yours.

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Mix all your ingredients over low heat until the peanut melts, remove from heat and add your vanilla.  If you want it a little more sugary add the tbsp of jelly.  I wasn’t really feeling it this time.

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Mix your dry ingredients in your mixing bowl.

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And add your wet mixture.

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Mix until no dry oats can be seen.  Mixture should clump in your hand.

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Flatten evenly to about a 1/4 inch thick on a lightly oiled baking sheet and sprinkle with the 1 tbsp of white sugar.  If you need to use two sheets, use two.  Bake for 1 hour.  I check on it at about 40 minutes, if the edges are starting to brown faster I break the sheet apart in large chunks and redisperse over the sheet.

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Granola is done when it is almost completely hard.  Pull granola out and let it cool slightly, break apart and add raisins.  Once it’s completely cool add to air tight container.

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Healthy Orange Chocolate Chunky Granola

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If you read my previous granola post you know I love granola.  Obviously I love all the food I post on here or else I wouldn’t post them.  Check out the original granola post here – Healthy Apple Blueberry Chunky Granola.  I forgot to mention in the previous post that I make granola every week.  It’s the perfect on the go snack and when people see you eating out of your re-used honey jar they’ll think you’re so chic or hipster.  If you look like me they’ll lean towards hipster because chances are you will also be wearing flannel–whatever, it’s warm and comfortable and I’ve been wearing beanies since college…damn hipsters.  Back to the granola, once you get the hang of it, it’s so easy and the options are endless.

Be wary though, most recipes call for around 1/4 cup of oil and anywhere from 1/2 to 3/4 cup of sugar in the forms of honey, syrup or of course sugar.  You don’t need all that to make a delicious granola.  If you love sugar that much, make your granola less sugary and you can drizzle some honey on afterwards when you eat it with your yogurt (Justin and I just eat it by itself).  Over time you’ll find you prefer it with less sugar and you’ll actually start to taste your food.

Okay I’m going to do the calorie comparison for this recipe as well (I did it in my Pumpkin Oatmeal Smoothie too) so you can really understand what’s in a standard granola recipe.  I typed in granola recipe and this was the highest rated, obviously many people find it delicious, but it’s essentially candy.  I also did Alton Brown’s Granola recipe because he adds less stuff to his granola.

Megan’s Granola – 30 servings – 1/2 cup per serving

Calories – 370
Fat – 19g
Carbs – 50g
Sugar– 21g
Protein – 9g

Alton’s Granola – 15.5 servings – 1/2 cup per serving

Calories – 270
Fat – 13g
Carbs – 39g
Sugar– 20g
Protein – 5g

My Granola – 12 servings – 1/2 cup per serving

Calories – 170
Fat – 6g
Carbs – 3g
Sugar– 8g
Protein – 5g

I am 83% sure I did not make a mistake calculating these numbers, but I am human and mistakes happen and I’ll admit I only half-assedly double checked my work.  But even if my numbers are slightly off it doesn’t negate the fact my granola is a healthier snack.  You can pretty much eat twice as much as mine and not get as much fat or sugar in your typical granola recipe, and it still provides decent nutrition.

Side story:  So I do in fact take my granola with me everywhere I go.  I was on a shoot and the day had just started.  I was eating my orange chocolate granola with some yogurt I grabbed from the craft service table as my morning snack.  The makeup artist (we’ll call him Q), a tall, elegant, beautifully rich skinned man, noticed and asked if he could try some.  He took one bite, let out a sigh saying, “See, that is so sophisticated.”  Now the color of Q’s skin has no bearing on this story, just the image of a high fashion, dark skinned gentleman telling me my granola is “sophisticated” is an image I like to go back to from time to time.  He then went on to tell me it was good enough to sell, which further delighted me.  I responded, saying I had no idea how to begin such a venture.  He replied, “You begin, by having the conversation.”  So, here I am beginning the conversation with you.

Recipe:

3 cups rolled oats

2 tbsp whole wheat flour

2 tbsp flax seed

1/4 cup pepitas (raw)

1/4 cup sunflower seeds (raw, hulled)

1/2 cup almond (raw, chopped)

1/2 cup apricots (dried, chopped)

3 tbsp cocoa powder

1/2 cup no sugar added applesauce

1 tbsp dark brown sugar

1 tbsp white sugar

1/2 cup orange juice (I use Trop50)

1/4 tsp ginger powder

1 tsp vanilla extract

1/4 tsp salt

Bake time: 1 hour

Prep oven 300°

Add your oats to a large bowl that will hold all your ingredients.  Non instant oats only, stop buying instant you’re basically eating paste.

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Add your flour to the bowl.  I’ve added up to 1/4 cup of whole wheat flour to this recipe before.  I slightly prefer the texture with 2 tbsp.  If you do decide to use 1/4 cup I would add up to 1/4 cup more liquid (juice or water) to the recipe.

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Add your flax seed.  Totally optional, but at 3600mg Omega-3 per 2 tbsp, they pack a pretty hefty nutritional punch–and they’re delicious.

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Add your nuts.  Since you’re going to be putting them in the oven for an hour, they’ll taste better if they start out raw.  They won’t taste terrible if they’re already roasted–I can’t tell you how frickin hard it is to find a raw peanut at the stores around me.  Upper Manhattan you fail me more than I’d care to admit.

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Some recipes leave the almonds whole, I prefer to chop mine.  They get a much better crunch that way.  Also, since this is chunky granola it helps if everything is smaller.  Don’t worry about getting them all the same size and don’t waste the the tiny dust crumblies.  That’s delicious dust.

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Now that you have everything ready in your bowl you can make your liquid.  Or you can do it the other way, but you’re less likely to burn your mixture doing it in this order.  Maybe you like to live on the edge and tempting fate in the kitchen is how you get your thrills, if so, then by all means put that liquid on the stove and crank the heat.  Some people just want to watch the world burn, or liquid sugar mixtures.

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Not tempting fate today?  Okay, add your applesauce and orange juice followed by your sugar.  Turn it on low heat, the point here is to just melt and mix everything.  If one really felt like it one could skip the stove and just add everything in the main bowl and mix, but one should not.  There’s a little bit of magic that happens when you slowly heat and stir ingredients together.  I assure you it’s not science.  The ingredients can tell you care enough to heat them up a bit.  There’s a part of me that’s dead serious about this and the other part with the science degree is deeply, deeply ashamed.

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Add your ginger.  I use powdered almost all the time because the woody stuff you get at the store is just so suppar.  I buy my ginger here and it’s divine.

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Add 3 tbsp cocoa powder.  You can certainly add more but make sure your mixture doesn’t become too thick, it needs to be able to mix easily with your dry mixture.  Mix all of that together until uniform, do not bring it to a simmer.  Take it off the heat, add your salt and vanilla.  At this point taste it and make sure it’s meeting your chocolate and orange desires.  If I really felt like it I would put orange zest in this, I know it would increase the flavor wonderfully but I so very rarely buy oranges.

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Add your liquid mixture to your dry mixture and mix until completely integrated.

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Mixture should clump in your hand.  And this is the point where you get the idea to make granola bars, but you somehow never follow through with it.

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Flatten mixture onto a lightly oiled (or “Pammed” — I’ve grown an aversion to the stuff) baking sheet and sprinkle with your white sugar.  This is the day we realized Justin sucks at sprinkling.

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Bake at 300° for about an hour, rotating pan when needed to prevent burning on edges.  If you would like to not have to check it as often turn your oven down to 250° and it’ll take about 1.5 hours.  This is how flat it should be.  It looks dark out there, is someone making midnight granola?  You caught me.

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Pull out of oven, break apart, and let cool on sheet.  Add your fruit on top.  See how the sugar sprinkle stays on top?  By doing that, you taste the granola as being sweeter than it is.

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I’ve heard it said that granola lasts about 2 weeks in an air tight container.  I can’t attest to this, mines usually gone in a couple days.

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Healthy Apple Blueberry Chunky Granola

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A few months ago I became fed up with eyeing the granola section of my grocery store.  Every single time I went to the store I found myself in that cruel section of the cereal aisle dreaming of the day I could buy an $8 bag of crunchy oats without batting an eye.  Well that day didn’t come while I was in the cereal aisle so I thought to hell with it, I’m making my own damn granola.  But then I discovered a crueler world.  While I was trying to find a recipe to use, I found the “healthy” snack I had been drooling over was laden with oil and sugar!  Heaven forbid.  So once again, I thought to hell with it, I’m making my own damn granola.   I have a lot of versions of this, this just happened to be the one I made today.

Recipe:

3 cups oats (old fashion)
2 tbsp whole wheat flour
2 tbsp flax seed
1/2 cup unsweetened applesauce
1/2 cup of no sugar added juice (apple for this recipe)
1 tbsp honey
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp vanilla
1/4 tsp salt
1 tbsp sugar
1 tsp apple pie spice
1/4 cup sunflower seeds
1/4 cup pepitas
1/2 cup dried apple (or 1 apple’s worth if you make it yourself)
1/2 cup dried blueberries

Bake time: ~1 1/2 hours

The recipe portion is my basic granola recipe, additions are for the Apple Blueberry Granola and can be changed any way you see fit.  Or change the whole recipe, I won’t know or care.  If I felt like spending more money I would have done 1/2 cup of pecans instead of the sunflower seeds and pepitas but frick, pecans are expensive.

Preheat oven 300°

Add oats to a large mixing bowl.  Dirty secret time: these are store brand oats that I keep in a Quaker Oat container to make me feel better about myself.  Silly, the things we do.

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Today is the day I realized how old my measuring spoons look.  Add 2 tbsp of whole wheat flour into bowl.

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Follow with 2 tbsp flax seed.

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1/4 cup of pepitas and sunflower seeds.

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Mix them all in your bowl with your salt.

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Heat honey, applesauce, juice, vanilla, and spices over stove, just until warm.

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Pour wet mixture onto dry mixture and stir with spoon or spatula or whatever.

Mixture should clump in your hand.

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Spread granola thinly on lightly greased baking sheet, if you need to use two use two.  Sprinkle with 1 tbsp of sugar.

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This is how thin it should be.  Bake in oven at 300° for 1 hour.  Pull out of oven, break apart and bake up to another 1/2 hour.

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While granola is cooling toss in your apples and blueberries (okay you caught me, they’re craisins but they’re blueberry juice infused and they’re a fraction of the price!)

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