Monday, November 23, 2015

Homemade AND Healthy Granola!

I'll admit...I am a cereal addict!  I could eat it for breakfast, lunch, dinner and snacktime.  My favorite way to eat cereal is to sit down with the hubby in front of a Big Bang Theory episode with a big ol' bowl full after the kids have gone to bed!  But all that sugary, crunchy deliciousness right before bed is a serious no-no for my diet!  I've been trying to not eat after 8:00 pm and eliminate refined sugars, most dairy and ground grains (read: flour, like in breads and pasta).  And my triple serving of cereal contains pretty much everything on that do-not-eat list!  Ugh!

So in order to still be able to get my cereal fix, I've turned to a recipe for homemade granola from my husband's grandma that I've come to love!  Her original recipe called for TONS of brown sugar and canola oil.  It was also too chewy for my liking.  But with a few simple tweaks, I've changed it so the granola fits my diet criteria and is just as good, if not better!

Homemade Granola

13 cups old fashioned oats
1/2 14-oz pkg. coconut, toasted
1 1/2 Tbsp. cinnamon
1 ½ cups honey
1 tsp. salt
3 tsp. vanilla
1 cup coconut oil
1 cup water
Craisins or raisins (optional)
Sliced almonds (optionl)

Combine oats, coconut and cinnamon in a large mixing bowl.  Toasting the coconut is optional but I prefer it - the coconut tends to be really chewy if it's not toasted.  Here's how I toast mine (really easy!)...

Pour your coconut in a frying pan.  Over medium heat, stir constantly...

until it looks like this...
All nice and golden brown.  You have to really keep stirring it or it will burn!!

Set aside your oat/coconut mixture and in a saucepan, combine honey (I prefer raw), salt, vanilla, coconut oil and water.  Stir over medium heat until honey is dissolved (no need need to boil).

Here's another tip for measuring out your oil and honey: measure them in the same container!
Measure your oil (which is 1 cup in this recipe) and slowly add your honey to the same measuring cup.  Once your oil level has been raised by 1 1/2 cups, you've measured out the correct amount of honey.  What's great about this is the oil will keep the honey from sticking to your measuring cup and  everything will slide right out!  Amazing!  I have my mom to thank for this tip!!

So once melted, pour the honey/oil mixture over the grain mixture and stir until evenly coated.

Now, the original recipe says to spread mixture onto 2 jelly roll pans and bake at 300° for 25 minutes. This will make more of a chewy granola.  I prefer it more crunchy (like Honey Bunches of Oats Clusters!!),  So to do this, I put it in my dehydrator using fruit leather trays for approximately 24 hours or more - just until no longer chewy.

And don't add too much granola to each tray - it will take too long to dry out.  For my dehydrator, 2 1/2 cups is about right for each tray.  Then I dry 2 batches.

Once dry and no longer wet, store in tightly sealed container.  I bought a cereal container for mine.

Serve with craisins, raisins, sliced allmonds, milk, yogurt or on top of ice cream (that will obviously defeat my health-free version, but it's really good nonetheless!).  Or, for a dairy-free option, I eat mine over sugar-free almond milk.  YUM!!

While this doesn't fix my eating after 8:00 pm problem, it sure does solve all the other issues!  I love that I can get my cereal "fix" but still have it fall under my diet criteria and it's OH so good!  So good in fact, that I've hardly missed "real" cereal!

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