Healthier Granola Redux

Most days, breakfast around here is a bowl of plain non-fat Greek or Icelandic yogurt. As I discovered in my sugar experiment a while back, nonfat yogurt is one of the few food items where the stated serving size is actually larger than what I'd eyeball for myself! Yogurt is full of protein and due to the generous serving size, keeps you full and satisfied. In summer, I might add a small drizzle of honey and some fresh berries. In winter, I often use leftover homemade cranberry sauce or low sugar jam instead of the honey and berries. Other seasonal favorites are cut up mango or fuyu persimmon.

But one constant year round is that I like a little crunch on top of my yogurt. Sometimes I use a tablespoon or two of Trader Joe's Super Seed and Ancient Grain Blend which has no added sugar at all, other times, I use some hemp hearts. But sometimes, I go lighter on the sweetening in my yogurt and add in some homemade granola. 

Granola can be full of sugar and calories, so I both make my own and try to keep my serving to about a 1/4 cup. I base my recipe off of one from a Brooklyn shop that made the rounds years ago, was adapted by Melissa Clark of the New York Times, along with many other recipe writers. The combination of maple syrup, olive oil and just a touch of salt is pretty perfect. I've adapted this recipe many times myself, most recently pulling the sugar way back. 

The recipe is pretty straightforward, requires only one big bowl, a large spoon and a baking pan.  I like to use a half sheet pan with a lip, rather than a flat cookie sheet, so that contents do not spill out into the oven when I mix it.  I also like to line the pan with either tin foil (lightly sprayed with cooking spray) or parchment paper.  This saves on cleanup and keeps the granola from sticking too much. 

I don't add dried fruit to this mix as the pieces tend to get hard.  In winter, when I don't have fresh berries or other fresh fruit around, I sometimes add dried fruit to my yogurt along with this granola. This recipe is very adaptable. Sometimes I add some uncooked quinoa to the mix, or some puffed brown rice cereal. This version is my current favorite!

Maple and Olive Oil Granola

adapted from Nekisia Davis (and Melissa Clark)

(makes about 7 cups - I usually fill three quart sized jars or plastic containers with tight fitting lids)

  • 3 cups old-fashioned rolled oats (I sometimes use a multigrain oatmeal mix for 1 of the cups)
  • 1 cup raw pepitas, hulled
  • 1 cup raw unsalted sunflower seeds, hulled
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened coconut flakes (these are large curls of coconut, not grated or shredded!)
  • 1 1/4 cup raw walnut or pecan pieces (rather than pay for the fancy halves, I use the already broken up baking bits)
  • 1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 cup pure maple syrup (preferably Grade B)
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cardamom
  • 1/2 teaspoon Kosher salt
  1. Heat oven to 350 degrees. If you know your oven runs on the hot side, set it to 325.
  2. Place all ingredients in a large bowl and mix until well combined. Spread mixture in an even layer on a baking sheet with a rim (either line with lightly oiled foil or a piece of parchment paper). Bake about 30 minutes, mixing halfway through.  You want to make sure the liquid ingredients dry up and coat the solid ingredients.  At the end of the 30 minutes, if you like large clumps of granola, give it one more quick mix so it doesn't stick to the pan, press the mixture down into the pan with the back of a large spoon, and let the granola sit undisturbed for about half an hour. I sometimes even turn the oven off and put the pan back in to cool with the oven. Once cool, sections of the granola should be almost like thin granola bars which you can break apart as you like.  If you like it your granola without clumps, then stir the granola well as you take the pan out of the oven and don't tamp it down. Either way, let cool and then put into airtight containers and use within about a month.