Crunchy granola: breakfast meets lifestyle

Since when did one of my all-time favorite snack foods, crunchy granola, turn into a lifestyle designation?

From a Google search I recently did on “crunchy granola”:

“Slang of the Week: crunchy-granola (adjective)

“Example: Janet knew John was crunchy-granola when he came to pick her up in a rainbow-colored 1974 VW Microbus.

“…crunchy-granola students (named for the food they ate) could be easily identified because they were the only ones wearing Birkenstock sandals. Nowadays, lots of people wear Birkenstocks, but it’s still pretty easy to spot crunchy-granola types. Also called earthy-crunchy, they wear natural fabrics (especially hemp) and long hair, sometimes in dreadlocks. They tend to be vegetarians, shop at the Whole Foods market and give money to Greenpeace.” 

Well, there’s no more satisfying snack than a handful of this just-sweet-enough, crunchy-nutty-oaty, maple- and vanilla-scented granola. Add it to yogurt; make trail bars with it; eat it with milk (or cream… oo-la-la!), and bake, pack, wrap, and give it as Christmas gifts.

Try doing all THAT with a bowl of oatmeal.

Come to think of it, perhaps the use of crunchy granola to describe an erstwhile hippie derives from the fact granola is an over-the-top riff on oatmeal. Just as a “crunchy granola” is an over-the-top riff  on… well, Joe the Plumber.

Kinda like putting Mick Jagger and Pat Boone side by side, eh?

I know which one I’d pick.

Crunchy Granola.

img_7224.JPG

The hardest thing about making your own granola is simply gathering the ingredients. Let’s start with the dry stuff. Clockwise from left, you see diced pecans, stabilized wheat germ, sliced almonds, unsweetened coconut, and sunflower seeds. You can probably pick this stuff up at a market that sells in bulk out of bins. Or you can certainly find it all here.

img_7230.JPG

Here’s a better view of the coconut. It’s nicer than regular supermarket coconut—finer cut, and not gooey-sweet.

img_7225.JPG

And here’s my favorite all-around dried fruit mix: our combination of apricots, golden raisins, pineapple, dates, and cranberries. I love this in cookies, muffins… and granola, where it really shines.

img_7227.JPG

And here’s the bulk of your granola: oats. Use old-fashioned, rather than quick oats.

img_7229.JPG

Maple syrup and vanilla give this granola over-the-top flavor.  For the syrup, I use Grade B cooking maple, a dark, assertively maple syrup. If you use store-bought pancake syrup, increase the amount by about half to reach the same level of sweetness. And, you’ll be missing the maple flavor. This syrup is expensive; but if you can afford it, as an indulgence, it’s so worth it.

As for the Vanilla Bean Crush—aromatic, flavorful, laced with vanilla bean seeds and crushed bean. Superb.

img_7231.JPG

So, let’s get all of our dry ingredients ito a big bowl. You probably can’t see that these ingredients aren’t floating in thin air, but are in fact in our big styrene mixing bowl, which I use for pie filling, fruitcake, and other big mixing jobs, like granola.

img_7237.JPG

Mix to combine. A dough whisk works well here.

img_7239.JPG

Next, measure the maple syrup and vegetable oil. Since I’m pouring into a measuring cup I don’t really need the scale, but I just automatically weigh everything, since it’s fast and easy.

img_7245.JPG

Stir in the vanilla.

img_7247.JPG

See the crushed vanilla pods and seeds?

img_7248.JPG

Whisk together…

img_7250.JPG

…and pour over the dry ingredients.

img_7251.JPG

Mix to combine.

img_7253.JPG

Nothing sticks to the whisk.

img_7254.JPG

Line two half-sheet pans with parchment.

img_7255.JPG

Divide the granola between the two pans.

img_7256.JPG

Spread it right to the edge.

img_7260.JPG

And here’s my well-loved hang-around-the-neck timer. You’re going to bake the granola for about 2 hours, stirring it every 15 minutes. I like this timer because it automatically resets itself to 15 minutes each time it gets to zero.

img_7261.JPG

Bake for 15 minutes.

img_7262.JPG

Remove from the oven, and bring the edges of the granola in towards the center. This ensures that it all bakes evenly. The easiest way to do this is simply to grab a corner of the parchment, lift, and slide the granola around the edges in towards the center.

img_7264.JPG

Do the same with the sides, rolling the granola on the outside in towards the center.

img_7265.JPG

Shake the pan and use a spatula to spread it to the edges again.

img_7266.JPG

Continue to bake until the granola is golden brown.

img_7268.JPG

Remove it from the oven. Looking good, eh? Once the granola is completely cool, lift the piece of parchment, and funnel the granola into a bowl.

img_7326.JPG

Pour in the dried fruit.

img_7327.JPG

Stir together, using a spoon, your whisk…

img_7329.JPG

Or your clean hands, an excellent tool.

img_7328.JPG

Done!

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And look at that clean pan.

img_7335.JPG

Ready to enjoy.

img_7338.JPG

Serve with fresh fruit and milk, or just as is. Granola is a delicious whole-grain breakfast, snack, or gift. For Mick, OR Pat.

Read, rate and review (please!) our recipe for Crunchy Granola.

Buy vs. Bake

img_7387.JPG

Buy: New England Natural Bakers Organic Apple, Raisin, and Walnut Granola, $5.29/lb.

img_7388.JPG

Bake at home: Crunchy Granola with real maple syrup, sunflower seeds, wheat germ, cranberries, apricots, pineapple, pecans, almonds, golden raisins, and dates, $6.70/lb.

Yes, it does cost more to make this granola than to purchase many ready-made granolas. You can save a considerable amount of money by sweetening with corn syrup or honey instead of real maple syrup; or by cutting back on the array of dried fruits (e.g., substituting golden raisins and cranberries for the apricots, pineapple, and dates). This is, admittedly, a deluxe granola, as the recipe is written. And its taste, texture, and just-baked freshness are out of this world… In this case, you get what you pay for.

PJ Hamel
About

PJ Hamel was born in Wisconsin, grew up in New England, and graduated from Brown University. She was a journalist in Massachusetts and Maine before joining the King Arthur Flour Company in 1990, where she's been ever since. Author or co-author of three King Arthur ...

comments

  1. Christina

    As a newer generation “crunchy” momma, I’m loving your description of your search! lol It reminds me of when I first heard the term. :)

    We’ve been wanting to make granola at home for a while and this looks like the perfect recipe for our family! I’ll be enlisting the help of my nearly 3 year old baker in training. She’ll love helping measure, “dump” (add), and mixing ingredients up in this yummy treat!

    Great job!!!

    I think she’ll really love mixing it all up with her hands, Christina – what a great introduction to making stuff in your own kitchen. Thanks for keeping the tradition going through the next generation- PJH

    Reply
  2. Rita

    I know that stirring the granola shouldn’t be that hard, but once I was making granola and managed to drop it all on the floor–what a tragedy. Since then I discovered that I could make it in my bread machine.

    This is how I do it with the recipe in the KA Whole Grain Book I have to do it in two batches, so what I like to do is combine the oats and wheat germ together in the first batch and the nuts and other ingredients in a second. Then, I combine the liquids and salt in a measuring cup. I set the bread machine to the jam setting and put in one of the bowls of dry ingredients. On the jam setting the bread machine heats up for about 10 minutes and then it starts to stir periodically, that’s when I add half of the wet ingredients. Repeat this with the second bowl of dry ingredients.

    You can mix all of the dry ingredients together first and then divide it in two bowls, but I like how the nuts form nice little clusters.

    mmm… I think I need to go home and make some. Thanks for sharing that great tip. Mary @ KAF

    Reply
  3. Annie Mills

    Hi Mary….our kitchen granola jar is ALWAYS full…and if it’s not..there are a lot of grumpy people in the house :) I just took a batch out of the oven!
    I do love the unsweeted coconut…I also add sesame seeds, ground flax seeds…so good.
    Instead of maple syrup, I do use canola oil and honey mixed, with vanilla extract and a pure maple extract added. Soooo Yummy. I also tend to speed up the cooking process by baking at 350 degrees..stir after 10 minutes…bake another 10-15 minutes or so..stirring after 5 min..and then take it out to cool. It usually works to get pretty crunchy. I add dried blueberries and cranberries to the cookie sheets right out of the oven. We love it best mixed with yogurt!

    Reply
  4. HMB

    I’ve been eating homemade granola nearly every day for breakfast for I don’t know HOW many years. And it never tastes the same because I’m always varying the nuts or dried fruit, and I sometimes mix the grains up a bit too. Breakfast this morning was granola topped with fresh strawberries and blueberries, dolloped with plain yogurt and topped off with a sprinkling of maple sugar. (I was debating between maple sugar, lavender sugar, cardamom/spice sugar … and maple won this morning.) YUM!!! And granola is a breakfast that will hold you all morning — no mid-morning munchies.

    Like the various sugars on top… I’ll have to try that for sure. :) PJH

    Reply

Since when did one of my all-time favorite snack foods, crunchy granola, turn into a lifestyle designation?

From a Google search I recently did on “crunchy granola”:

“Slang of the Week: crunchy-granola (adjective)

“Example: Janet knew John was crunchy-granola when he came to pick her up in a rainbow-colored 1974 VW Microbus.

“…crunchy-granola students (named for the food they ate) could be easily identified because they were the only ones wearing Birkenstock sandals. Nowadays, lots of people wear Birkenstocks, but it’s still pretty easy to spot crunchy-granola types. Also called earthy-crunchy, they wear natural fabrics (especially hemp) and long hair, sometimes in dreadlocks. They tend to be vegetarians, shop at the Whole Foods market and give money to Greenpeace.” 

Well, there’s no more satisfying snack than a handful of this just-sweet-enough, crunchy-nutty-oaty, maple- and vanilla-scented granola. Add it to yogurt; make trail bars with it; eat it with milk (or cream… oo-la-la!), and bake, pack, wrap, and give it as Christmas gifts.

Try doing all THAT with a bowl of oatmeal.

Come to think of it, perhaps the use of crunchy granola to describe an erstwhile hippie derives from the fact granola is an over-the-top riff on oatmeal. Just as a “crunchy granola” is an over-the-top riff  on… well, Joe the Plumber.

Kinda like putting Mick Jagger and Pat Boone side by side, eh?

I know which one I’d pick.

Crunchy Granola.

img_7224.JPG

The hardest thing about making your own granola is simply gathering the ingredients. Let’s start with the dry stuff. Clockwise from left, you see diced pecans, stabilized wheat germ, sliced almonds, unsweetened coconut, and sunflower seeds. You can probably pick this stuff up at a market that sells in bulk out of bins. Or you can certainly find it all here.

img_7230.JPG

Here’s a better view of the coconut. It’s nicer than regular supermarket coconut—finer cut, and not gooey-sweet.

img_7225.JPG

And here’s my favorite all-around dried fruit mix: our combination of apricots, golden raisins, pineapple, dates, and cranberries. I love this in cookies, muffins… and granola, where it really shines.

img_7227.JPG

And here’s the bulk of your granola: oats. Use old-fashioned, rather than quick oats.

img_7229.JPG

Maple syrup and vanilla give this granola over-the-top flavor.  For the syrup, I use Grade B cooking maple, a dark, assertively maple syrup. If you use store-bought pancake syrup, increase the amount by about half to reach the same level of sweetness. And, you’ll be missing the maple flavor. This syrup is expensive; but if you can afford it, as an indulgence, it’s so worth it.

As for the Vanilla Bean Crush—aromatic, flavorful, laced with vanilla bean seeds and crushed bean. Superb.

img_7231.JPG

So, let’s get all of our dry ingredients ito a big bowl. You probably can’t see that these ingredients aren’t floating in thin air, but are in fact in our big styrene mixing bowl, which I use for pie filling, fruitcake, and other big mixing jobs, like granola.

img_7237.JPG

Mix to combine. A dough whisk works well here.

img_7239.JPG

Next, measure the maple syrup and vegetable oil. Since I’m pouring into a measuring cup I don’t really need the scale, but I just automatically weigh everything, since it’s fast and easy.

img_7245.JPG

Stir in the vanilla.

img_7247.JPG

See the crushed vanilla pods and seeds?

img_7248.JPG

Whisk together…

img_7250.JPG

…and pour over the dry ingredients.

img_7251.JPG

Mix to combine.

img_7253.JPG

Nothing sticks to the whisk.

img_7254.JPG

Line two half-sheet pans with parchment.

img_7255.JPG

Divide the granola between the two pans.

img_7256.JPG

Spread it right to the edge.

img_7260.JPG

And here’s my well-loved hang-around-the-neck timer. You’re going to bake the granola for about 2 hours, stirring it every 15 minutes. I like this timer because it automatically resets itself to 15 minutes each time it gets to zero.

img_7261.JPG

Bake for 15 minutes.

img_7262.JPG

Remove from the oven, and bring the edges of the granola in towards the center. This ensures that it all bakes evenly. The easiest way to do this is simply to grab a corner of the parchment, lift, and slide the granola around the edges in towards the center.

img_7264.JPG

Do the same with the sides, rolling the granola on the outside in towards the center.

img_7265.JPG

Shake the pan and use a spatula to spread it to the edges again.

img_7266.JPG

Continue to bake until the granola is golden brown.

img_7268.JPG

Remove it from the oven. Looking good, eh? Once the granola is completely cool, lift the piece of parchment, and funnel the granola into a bowl.

img_7326.JPG

Pour in the dried fruit.

img_7327.JPG

Stir together, using a spoon, your whisk…

img_7329.JPG

Or your clean hands, an excellent tool.

img_7328.JPG

Done!

img_7332.JPG

And look at that clean pan.

img_7335.JPG

Ready to enjoy.

img_7338.JPG

Serve with fresh fruit and milk, or just as is. Granola is a delicious whole-grain breakfast, snack, or gift. For Mick, OR Pat.

Read, rate and review (please!) our recipe for Crunchy Granola.

Buy vs. Bake

img_7387.JPG

Buy: New England Natural Bakers Organic Apple, Raisin, and Walnut Granola, $5.29/lb.

img_7388.JPG

Bake at home: Crunchy Granola with real maple syrup, sunflower seeds, wheat germ, cranberries, apricots, pineapple, pecans, almonds, golden raisins, and dates, $6.70/lb.

Yes, it does cost more to make this granola than to purchase many ready-made granolas. You can save a considerable amount of money by sweetening with corn syrup or honey instead of real maple syrup; or by cutting back on the array of dried fruits (e.g., substituting golden raisins and cranberries for the apricots, pineapple, and dates). This is, admittedly, a deluxe granola, as the recipe is written. And its taste, texture, and just-baked freshness are out of this world… In this case, you get what you pay for.

PJ Hamel
About

PJ Hamel was born in Wisconsin, grew up in New England, and graduated from Brown University. She was a journalist in Massachusetts and Maine before joining the King Arthur Flour Company in 1990, where she's been ever since. Author or co-author of three King Arthur ...

comments

  1. Christina

    As a newer generation “crunchy” momma, I’m loving your description of your search! lol It reminds me of when I first heard the term. :)

    We’ve been wanting to make granola at home for a while and this looks like the perfect recipe for our family! I’ll be enlisting the help of my nearly 3 year old baker in training. She’ll love helping measure, “dump” (add), and mixing ingredients up in this yummy treat!

    Great job!!!

    I think she’ll really love mixing it all up with her hands, Christina – what a great introduction to making stuff in your own kitchen. Thanks for keeping the tradition going through the next generation- PJH

    Reply
  2. Rita

    I know that stirring the granola shouldn’t be that hard, but once I was making granola and managed to drop it all on the floor–what a tragedy. Since then I discovered that I could make it in my bread machine.

    This is how I do it with the recipe in the KA Whole Grain Book I have to do it in two batches, so what I like to do is combine the oats and wheat germ together in the first batch and the nuts and other ingredients in a second. Then, I combine the liquids and salt in a measuring cup. I set the bread machine to the jam setting and put in one of the bowls of dry ingredients. On the jam setting the bread machine heats up for about 10 minutes and then it starts to stir periodically, that’s when I add half of the wet ingredients. Repeat this with the second bowl of dry ingredients.

    You can mix all of the dry ingredients together first and then divide it in two bowls, but I like how the nuts form nice little clusters.

    mmm… I think I need to go home and make some. Thanks for sharing that great tip. Mary @ KAF

    Reply
  3. Annie Mills

    Hi Mary….our kitchen granola jar is ALWAYS full…and if it’s not..there are a lot of grumpy people in the house :) I just took a batch out of the oven!
    I do love the unsweeted coconut…I also add sesame seeds, ground flax seeds…so good.
    Instead of maple syrup, I do use canola oil and honey mixed, with vanilla extract and a pure maple extract added. Soooo Yummy. I also tend to speed up the cooking process by baking at 350 degrees..stir after 10 minutes…bake another 10-15 minutes or so..stirring after 5 min..and then take it out to cool. It usually works to get pretty crunchy. I add dried blueberries and cranberries to the cookie sheets right out of the oven. We love it best mixed with yogurt!

    Reply
  4. HMB

    I’ve been eating homemade granola nearly every day for breakfast for I don’t know HOW many years. And it never tastes the same because I’m always varying the nuts or dried fruit, and I sometimes mix the grains up a bit too. Breakfast this morning was granola topped with fresh strawberries and blueberries, dolloped with plain yogurt and topped off with a sprinkling of maple sugar. (I was debating between maple sugar, lavender sugar, cardamom/spice sugar … and maple won this morning.) YUM!!! And granola is a breakfast that will hold you all morning — no mid-morning munchies.

    Like the various sugars on top… I’ll have to try that for sure. :) PJH

    Reply
  5. l idea and, I must admit, your pictures are making me drool a little.

    Of course, just today I decided I need to cut back a bit (see http://strangerkiss.wordpress.com/2009/07/01/nightmare-in-my-closet/ for gory details) but this is really tempting. After all granola is very healthy…whole grains, fruit, maple syrup! This is definitely worth making an exception for. However, in the interest of my resolution, besides the Splenda suggestion made to Lauren B. do you have any other ways that the calorie count could be reduced a bit?

    So sorry, Barbara – I struggle with this, because I love granola, and it’s quite calorie-intense. However, it’s also full of fiber, vitamins, and minerals, so you’re getting lots of good stuff in those calories. You could leave out the oil, which will yield muesli (not crunchy) instead of granola. You can cut back on the dried fruit and nuts, which will pretty much leave plain, dry oats. Or you can do what I do – ration your portions. I like to stir it into yogurt, which “stretches” the experience and adds calcium, too. Good luck – PJH