This post contains Amazon affiliate links for some of the ingredients I used in the granola recipe. I haven’t bought cereal for our home for quite a few years. Initially, the reason for that was based more on cost, than anything else. The price had gotten so high and my family could literally eat through […]
This post contains Amazon affiliate links for some of the ingredients I used in the granola recipe.
I haven’t bought cereal for our home for quite a few years. Initially, the reason for that was based more on cost, than anything else. The price had gotten so high and my family could literally eat through a box in a couple of days. (After I quit buying it, if a rare box showed up in our pantry, as a treat, they could polish it off in 24 hours.) I was just irritated by the amount we had to pay to get a box of fluff, void of nutrition and loaded with sugar. For a short time, I tried switching to granola or cereals I felt were healthier than the alternatives. Neither my kids or my husband would eat them. More money wasted. To fuel them for a productive day, we simply scrambled some eggs, made homemade pancakes, biscuits or muffins and ate fruit. It seemed to be the most cost effective way to achieve the best nutrition. They still craved that quick bowl of cereal, now and again, though; so I decided to make a homemade granola recipe that even David would eat. If it could get by him, then the kids would be easy. He loves it and unlike many other pantry staples, reminds me when we are running low. He doesn’t like running out of this breakfast cereal.
This recipe, in total, is not inexpensive. The initial cost to purchase ingredients seems high, but you will get several uses out of most of the items purchased and spread the cost over multiple batches and in other recipes. I’m including links to where I purchase them and always buy them in bulk for the greatest savings. Because this granola is so filling, 1/2 cup at a time, with some sliced fruit and whole milk is all I can eat at a sitting; so it goes much further than you would expect. My husband and teenage son may eat a little more than that, but my point is that as to cost per serving, I feel it is right on par with commercial organic cereals and LESS costly than many of them. I also don’t feel that you will find a commercial cereal that offers the combination of ingredients and nutrients that this delicious, organic and gluten-free granola recipe provides. You will be able to adjust your personal cost by selecting the nuts and seeds that best fit your family’s tastes and budget. I tend to switch it up, based on what I have on hand. I have doubled and even tripled this recipe with good success.
This recipe is loaded with fiber and nutrition. It will let your family feel full and provide tons of energy to get through their morning. Let me explain a little about why I chose some of these specific ingredients, when creating the recipe.
- Honey provides vitamin B-6, vitamin C and riboflavin, while maple syrup adds iron, calcium, zinc, manganese and potassium.
- Healthy heart fats from the coconut oil and nuts are also great for the nervous system, hair and skin.
- Coconut oil contains a high concentration of medium chain triglycerides, which are metabolized differently than other saturated fats, and can have therapeutic effects on several brain disorders. It has been shown to increase energy and may help to burn more fat. Coconut oil contains lauric acid which kills bacteria, viruses and fungi and helps to prevent infections. Fatty acids in coconut oil have been shown to improve brain function in some Alzheimer’s patients. It may also have positive effects on hormones that control blood sugar and thyroid .
- Fiber from the gluten-free oats, flax seed meal, nuts and other seeds are great for colon health and may aid in cancer prevention and regulating cholesterol.
- Natural sweeteners like raw honey and pure maple syrup don’t expose your family to all the bleaching and chemicals of processed sugars. Raw honey may even provide some benefits for allergy symptoms if you buy a local variety.
- Flax seed is being shown in more and more studies to have the potential to fight breast cancer, diabetes, and heart disease. It’s high in Omega-3 fatty acids, lignans and fiber.
- Chia seeds are a good source of healthy omega-3 fatty acids, carbohydrates, fiber, antioxidants and calcium. There are, also, about 4 grams of protein in only 2 Tablespoons of these little nutrition powerhouses. Two tablespoons contain 18 percent of the daily recommended intake for calcium, 35 percent for phosphorus, 24 percent for magnesium and about 50 percent for manganese. These nutrients help you prevent hypertension and maintain a healthy weight, and are important for energy metabolism. Chia seeds are also rich in antioxidants, and are believed to help protect the body from free radicals, aging and cancer. I use them in many things, besides granola, but they were a natural addition to this recipe.
- Hemp seeds contain all 10 essential amino acids. 3 Tablespoons of Hemp Seeds = 11 grams of protein! Hemp provides zinc, calcium, phosphorous, magnesium and iron, as well as a 3:1 ratio of omega-6 to omega-3 fatty acids which makes it a natural anti-inflammatory.
- Pumpkin Seeds are high in magnesium, zinc and plant-based omega-3′s. They enhance functions that help with prostate health, may improve insulin regulation, may help with many of the symptoms of menopause, are good for the heart and liver, and have anti-inflammatory properties.
- Sunflower seeds are a good source of selenium, helping in preventing cell damage. They contain bone-healthy minerals like calcium, magnesium and copper. Magnesium is great for helping us to stay calm, soothing nerves and possibly even as a relief for migraines. They are good for the skin because of vitamin E content and are loaded with antioxidants.
- Cacao nibs are slightly bitter on their own, (think plain, unsweetened cocoa powder, only these are little chips of the cacao bean), but add a great chocolate flavor to sweetened baked goods. They are also high in dietary fiber making them good for intestinal health. Studies published in the Journal of Internal Medicine and in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology showed that cacao products can have a positive effect on heart and brain health, reducing the frequency of strokes and heart attacks. Cacao polyphenols may improve the health of your heart and brain arteries by serving as antioxidants and inhibiting blood platelets from forming a clot. They may also be useful in lowering blood pressure and glucose levels.
You can certainly use this recipe as a guide, and substitute the nuts, seeds and grains that make sense for your own family. I do have a few tips for creating your own custom blend.
- If you eat gluten-free, be cautious to read labels and make sure you are purchasing gluten-free ingredients; especially in the case of the rolled oats. Oats are naturally gluten-free, but it is very common for them to be processed in facilities that also work with wheat and cross-contamination can occur, so make sure the label says your oats are gluten-free.
- Also, purchasing organic ingredients can protect your family from toxins in pesticides and fertilizers used in commercial growing. Whenever we can afford it and the products are available, I purchase organic ingredients.
- I also prefer to purchase raw nuts to use in granola, since they will be in the oven for such a long time. I find that they roast, nicely, as the granola cooks and I don’t ever get that “burnt” taste that can come from overcooking nuts.
- Buy unsweetened coconut (I like the flakes, but you could buy shredded). Avoiding unnecessary processed sugars is always the best option and you will discover that unsweetened coconut flakes will toast and concentrate in their own natural sweetness as the granola bakes.
This granola, with fresh or dried fruit and whole milk actually makes a stupendously well-balanced, energy-boosting and nutritious way to start a day. I hope your family enjoys it as much as mine does!
How do you keep breakfast simple, cost-effective AND nutritious, at your house? Have commercial breakfast cereals priced themselves out of your family’s budget? I’d love to hear your comments and ideas! Have a blessing-filled week!
It’s 4-H Day! That was the happy exclamation I was greeted with, this morning. Our nine-year-old is just beside herself about being able to participate in 4-H this summer. I was in 4-H throughout elementary and high school and our two older daughters participated in a local homeschooler’s 4-H club when they were young. I […]
It’s 4-H Day! That was the happy exclamation I was greeted with, this morning. Our nine-year-old is just beside herself about being able to participate in 4-H this summer. I was in 4-H throughout elementary and high school and our two older daughters participated in a local homeschooler’s 4-H club when they were young. I love the skills and confidence that 4-H fosters and I wanted our nine-year-old to have that experience, but as a one-car family with a craa–aa—aaaaa-zy schedule, I wasn’t too excited about trying to juggle transportation and other people’s schedules to make it happen. Solution? We started our own, small 4-H club with three of our daughter’s friends from church. It has been the absolute perfect solution to my dilemma.
We meet every Friday afternoon, at our house, and spend two hours learning things like how to run a business meeting (parliamentary procedure), how to cook and how to sew. Since the focus of our group is cooking and sewing, we picked the name Pots and Pins for our club. Being a 4-H leader is crazy fun! I’d forgotten that. My older girls were involved with an established group that already had leaders, so I didn’t do much with the meetings back then. But, back in high school, I was a Jr. Leader. I think I taught knitting. (lol I don’t think I can knit any more. Maybe it’s like riding a bicycle. :)) Anyway, I love watching the enthusiasm as the girls discover that they are capable of doing things they didn’t think they could do. I get to see dozens of those “light bulb” moments AND they are having fun. No one is making them do it and they WANT to come back. Cool!
At our first meeting, we talked about the food pyramid and then the assignment was to make something that would include items from several of the food groups at once. No one had a problem with the dairy, grains or meat, but I wish you could have seen their faces when I mentioned vegetables. Do you believe that NONE of them liked vegetables? lol We decided to make pizza pockets and I promised them that when they were done, if they didn’t like them, they didn’t have to eat them. Refrigerated biscuit dough made quick work of the necessary 5″ dough circle needed. We spread out a wide variety of toppings that included the pizza sauce, mini pepperoni, ham, bacon, sausage, grated mozzarella and parmesan, broccoli slaw, diced butternut squash, diced onion and diced red bell pepper. Everyone had to include at least one vegetable. Amazingly, they each selected at least two and one brave experimenter used all four — yup, butternut squash! No one was more pleased than me to see the smiling faces at the end of the project. Not only had they made them all by themselves, but they liked them — veggies and all.
At our meeting, today, we finished up our unit on the importance of nutrition in cooking and making good choices about the things we cook and eat. We learned about energy-boosting carbohydrates and the best sources for them. Then we mixed up some absolutely yummy granola bars, to reinforce the lesson. We started with the recipe from the 4-H manual and then learned about “doubling” (yay, fractions!!!) and how to make substitutions and variations in a recipe (we added coconut).
While the granola bars were baking, we also studied Vitamins A & C, what they do for our bodies and the foods where we can get them, naturally. We had a wide selection of yummy fruits to select from and made delicious fruit kabobs. Of course I forgot to even pick up my camera during the process, but they were beautifully colorful, full of nutrition and absolutely delicious! We used chunks of fresh pineapple, strawberries, kiwi, cantaloupe, green grapes and chunks of banana. Delish!
Our final lesson in the nutrition unit was a science experiment, the results of which will be discovered when we meet next Friday. To understand the importance of calcium in our diet and the important job it does for our bodies, we placed two chicken leg bones into quart jars — one in each jar. The control jar had 2 cups of water added to it and the jar with the variable, 2 cups of vinegar. It will be a dramatic illustration of the importance of a calcium-rich diet. The girls were also surprised to learn of all the non-dairy places they could get calcium in the food they eat, like kale, celery, almonds, spinach, sesame seeds, broccoli and others.
And last but not least, the finished granola bars. These were REALLY good and we’ll be making them again, for our family. I’m also very confident that just spreading the mixture loosely across the cookie sheet to bake it, and stirring it once during baking, would result in delicious granola cereal. The girls were delighted that they had created these yummy, soft and chewy granola bars all while learning the finer points of the chemistry of baking.
- 7 cups of rolled oats, toasted
- 2 cups of chopped nuts
- 2 cups raisins
- 1 cup shredded coconut
- 1⅔ cups butter, melted
- 1 cup brown sugar
- ¾ cup honey
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
- To toast the oats, spread them across two cookie sheets and bake at 350 degrees for 15-20 minutes or until lightly browned. Toasted oats have a nutty flavor.
- Mix all the ingredients in a large bowl.
- Divide the mixture evenly between two lightly greased, 15x10x1 jelly roll pans.
- Spread the mixture evenly across the pans, pressing firmly to help it start holding together. (If you're going to use it for cereal, just spread it lightly across the pans and stir it once, during the baking process.)
- Bake in a 350 degree oven for 12-15 minutes.
- Though they will smell absolutely wonderful, resist the urge to cut these while they're warm. It will cause them to crumble. When they have completely cooled, you will be able to cut them into bars.