I don't know many people who don't enjoy receiving food as a gift. Homemade food, especially. It's thoughtful, rustic and usually delicious. This past Christmas, I made a massive batch of granola and bottled it up with some cute laminated labels for my extended family and friends. As is the way most of the time when I make granola and muesli mixes, I didn't measure any of the ingredients and so there was no real recipe. Cue mid-January when people started to polish off their gifted granola and started to ask me for the recipe so they could refill their bottles. So, after much procrastination and chowing through my own granola stash, I finally wrote down the measurements of my latest batch to share with you all. 

Look, the beauty of granola is that you don't really need a recipe, but hopefully this one inspires you if you've never made your own granola before. If you REALLY like a particular ingredient, use more of it. If you're not keen on an ingredient, use less of it or don't use it at all. Ifyou've got something in the pantry you reckon would be a nice addition, throw it in.

When it comes to granolas and muesli's, the ones you find in the supermarket are usually nutritionally imbalanced or will absolutely drain your bank account. I've struggled to find a product that ticks all the boxes nutritionally without being ridiculously overpriced for the privilege. 

These things are important to me when finding a granola/muesli that fits the bill for myself and clients:

  • Low sugar (less than 4g per 100g). Usually this means the mix will be fruit-free. It's tricky with granolas because a lot of the time, the crunch factor comes from using a sugar product and it can be tricky to replicate that without some sort of sweetener. I've used rice malt syrup in my recipe, but you can totally omit it and go for more of a toasted muesli vibe. Rice malt syrup is a low-fructose sweetener which is kinder on our hunger hormones and won't muck around with our blood sugar levels to the degree of honey, maple syrup or nature's version of high-fructose corn syrup...agave nectar. If you're interested in low-fructose recipes, I Quit Sugar has a stash of great family-friendly recipes I often use myself.
  • Preservative-free, chemical-free and all that junk-free. At the end of the day, this is the stuff that is meant to be nourishing your body. Don't be fooled by pretty packaging and just leave any numbers, "natural colourings" and "natural flavours" on the shelf. If the ingredient list isn't clear as day, it's not the best thing you could be putting in your body.
  • Balanced. Most granolas are carb city. Which is fine for some people. For most people tucking into a granola, be it daily or occasionally, it should be a relatively balanced meal or snack. That means some protein and fat amongst the carby goodness. The carb sources are normally great fibre sources, too, but the protein and fats are what will keep you fuller for longer and manage how quickly your body converts the carbohydrates to energy, and therefore managing how much of that carbohydrate goodness gets put away in [fat] storage to be used when you're in a famine (ie, never). My recipe includes a complete plant protein source - quinoa - as well as lots of crunchy nuts and coconut for essential fats, fibre and protein. Woohoo!
  • Full of texture and flavour! We should be enjoying our food and a combination of textures and flavours that set different tastebuds singing are important parts of the eating experience.

If you're wondering what and how YOU should be eating, click the button below.

GOOD FOR YOU GRANOLA

Makes.... a lot.

INGREDIENTS

Dry Mix #1

  • 250g puffed grains or seeds (I used 100g puffed buckwheat and 150g puffed quinoa. You could use rice, millet, amaranth or any other combination. You could also sub this for rolled oats, buckwheat groats, some lupin flakes or omit it altogether).
  • 150g raw pepitas/pumpkin seeds
  • 150g raw sunflower seeds
  • 250g almonds, roughly chopped

Dry Mix #2 (this mix has ingredients that don't take as long as Mix #1 to toast, and would therefore burn if you put them all in together)

  • 100g coconut flakes/chips/shreds
  • 150g raw hazelnuts, pecans and/or macadamia nuts
  • 5 Tbs chia seeds
  • 50g sesame seeds

Syrup mix

  • 1/2 cup avocado oil (you could use coconut oil. Both have high smoke points. I find avocado oil is a more neutral flavour as some people don't enjoy the flavour of coconut oil, however it's significantly more expensive than coconut oil. Olive oil works, too, just opt for NOT extra virgin as the flavour can be overpowering and savoury)
  • 1/2 rice malt syrup (you can use honey, maple syrup or any combination of the three)
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 2 Tbs cinnamon
  • 1 tsp ground ginger
  • 1 tsp vanilla powder, paste or extract
  • 1/2 tsp freshly ground nutmeg

If you're feeling fruity

  • 100g dried cranberries to add at the end

METHOD

1. Start by creating texture. I like to have different sized chunks of nuts in my granola, so either pulse the nuts in batches in a food processor, of give them a good whack in a bag with a rolling pin.

2. Meanwhile, get the oven on and cranking up to 180 degrees C.

3. In your biggest bowl, add the Dry Mix #1 ingredients

4. In a smaller bowl, combine the Dry Mix #2 ingredients

5. In a saucepan, add all of the Syrup Mix ingredients. Tip: use the same cup measure for the oil and rice malt syrup. Add the oil first, and this will coat the cup measure, making the rice malt syrup slide out easily without you having to scrape the cup to get half of it out!

6. On a low heat, stire the Syrup Mix ingredients until they have combined and dissolved, forming a silky, glossy syrup

7. Pour 3/4 of the syrup into Dry Mix #1 (big bowl), and 1/4 into Dry Mix #2 (smaller bowl), and toss the ingredients to coat. Don't worry if you get clusters or some bits that aren't fully coated - it adds to the different flavours and textures in each bite. I usually use a rubber spatula to scrape out the last bits of the syrup from the saucepan, because it's so packed full of warm flavour.

8. Line baking trays with baking/parchment paper. You might need to bake this in batches, so ideally have an hour or two to spare where you don't need to leave the house...!

9. Tip Dry Mix #1 onto the baking trays so they are evenly distributed. Don't worry if it's not one thin layer, we don't have time for that. Just get it on the trays and don't have it inches thick.

10. Turn the oven down to 160 degreees C. Bake for 30-45 minutes (depending on how thick you have the granola on the trays), rotating the trays and giving each a quick stir every 10-15 minutes. Remove the trays when the granola looks golden and the almonds have browned up without burning. Tip into the original Dry Mix #1 big bowl. By starting the oven hotter and bringing the temperature down, it helps make for a toastier granola.

11. Do the same with Dry Mix #2, though this will take 15-30 minutes. Rotate and stir every 10 minutes or so, and beware of burning. The coconut will give you the best indication, so turn the oven down and bake for longer if it's browning too quickly. Tip it into the big bowl with the rest of the granola.

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12. At this point, give it all a mix and have a taste. I like to add a little extra cinnamon at this stage, but I'm a cinnamon fiend, so it's up to you. You can also add any dried fruit, like cranberries, if you want to. Don't add it to the cooking stages or it'll likely burn.

13. Wait for the granola to cool completely before transferring to jars, bottles or other airtight containers. It'll store in the pantry for ages - you'll no doubt eat it all up before it goes stale! 

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