Oh granola, how I love thee, let me count the ways…I have loved granola for as long as I can remember. For years, my go to breakfast was a bowl of plain yogurt with fresh berries and a spoonful or two of my favorite granola. Nowadays, I don’t eat much yogurt, but I haven’t given up on granola and have found so many other delicious ways to enjoy it. I’ve replaced the yogurt in my granola bowl to fresh berries or sliced banana topped with granola and my homemade coconut milk or almond milk, delicious! Granola can be mixed into pancake batter for some extra flavor and texture, top off a chia cup or even a bowl of ice cream, or just eat it straight out of the jar as a healthy snack.
About 10-12 years ago, I found a recipe for granola and started making my own. My family loved it. As I continued making batch after batch of granola over the years, of course I started tweaking the recipe and have created a few different versions that I really like (for a nice twist try my pumpkin pecan granola). This one is close to my original, but with a few really great updates. For one, I’ve figured out some great tips on how to get granola into nice size clusters, all the better for snacking on straight out of the jar.
Tips for making granola clusters:
Mix in some psyllium husk! Psyllium is pure fiber, in fact it’s the main ingredient in many fiber supplements. But you can easily buy pure psyllium in your health food store, on Amazon and I think I even saw it at Target. When mixed with water or any liquid really, psyllium will form a gel (similar to chia or flax seeds, but amped up), which will help hold grains together like glue. This is a great ingredient for gluten free baking too.
Press your granola mix into the pan. When I say press it down, I really mean it, use the back of a measuring cup and press it down, this will help it all stick together.
Don’t stir! I know it’s tempting, but when you take the pans of granola out of the oven for the first time, take your time, don’t stir and carefully lift and flip it over in big pieces. I use my largest spatula for this.
Add some jam. Strawberry or apricot jam will not only add a little flavor and sweetness to your granola, but it also helps it stick together.
Although granola is thought by many to be a hippie loving health food, you may be getting a lot less health than you bargained for if you eat most commercial granolas or even some homemade versions. A lot of granola recipes have way too much sugar, oil or butter. In my version I’ve reduced the sugar and swapped out butter for organic virgin coconut oil. By it’s very nature, granola is not a low fat food, but I’m not afraid of fat when it comes from nuts, seeds and coconut which are all filled with so much more than fat – fiber, protein, good for you fats and loads of vitamins & minerals. Just to name a few; almonds boast vitamin E & magnesium; pecans are filled with vitamins A, C, B complex and K, plus calcium, potassium & zinc; pumpkin seeds are high in magnesium & zinc and also contain omega 3’s and tryptophan. All these amazing nutrients lead to a slew of healthy benefits like lowering bad cholesterol and raising the good, positive effects on insulin levels, reducing inflammation, heart health and so much more. If all this doesn’t have you running to the kitchen to mix up a batch of this delicious & healthy granola, then just think about the subtle sweet crunch topping your favorite bowl, dig in and enjoy.
Now I don’t call this recipe Big Batch Granola for nothing. This makes a heaping 10 cups of granola, which even for my granola loving family is A LOT. Share the wealth and pour some of your granola into smaller jars and hand out to your friends and family. I always keep one big jar on the counter and then give Colin a smaller jar to bring to work. Granola makes a really nice homemade edible gift too for friends, teachers, co-workers or even as a nice take home for guests after a dinner party. At the end of the last school year, I made 3 batches of this big batch granola and filled jars, tied on labels with the ingredients listed and had the kids hand out to their teachers. Skyler’s many high school teachers especially loved it! This can also be a fun project with your scouts or give out small baggies to your kid’s sports team during practice or a game. You can even make this a lesson in recycling, I like to wash out and save my empty nut butter and jam jars to use as the vessels for my homemade gifts, so every time I’m overrun with jars I know it’s time to make more granola and start handing it out 🙂
Big Batch Granola
with Almonds, Pecans & Pepitas
Author: Jen Jones of SweetGreenKitchen.com
Vegan, gluten free
Makes 10 cups
6 cups rolled oats
¾ cup pecans
¾ cup almonds
½ cup pumpkin seeds/pepitas
1/4 cup flax seeds
1/4 cup ground flax
¼ cup psyllium
¼ cup wheat germ
1 cup shredded unsweetened coconut
1 teaspoon sea salt
2 Tablespoons brown sugar
1/3 cup coconut oil – organic/unrefined
3 Tablespoons brown sugar
2/3 cup apricot or strawberry jam
1 ½ Tablespoons pure vanilla extract
1/3 cup water
Preheat oven to 300°F.
In a large bowl, add your rolled oats. Chop the pecans and almonds, add to the bowl with the oats. Add in the remaining dry ingredients. Stir together.
In a small saucepan over medium flame melt the coconut oil. Once the coconut is melted, lower the flame and stir in the brown sugar and jam. Once the oil, sugar and jam are completely mixed together, turn off the heat and add in the vanilla and water. Allow to cool slightly.
Pour the liquid mix into the oats, etc. Stir together for a few minutes until all the dry ingredients are fully mixed with the liquid mixture.
Line two large rimmed baking pans (mine are 12″ x 17″) with parchment paper. Pour half of the granola mix onto each pan. With a spatula, spread the granola into an even layer on each pan. Using the bottom of a measuring cup, press the granola mix into the pan so everything is essentially stuck together. This step will help the granola form clusters.
Place both pans in the oven and bake for 25 minutes at 300°F. After 25 minutes of baking, remove the pans from the oven one at a time and carefully turn the granola with a large spatula. Be gentle as you turn and don’t stir the granola, you want big pieces to stay stuck together.
Place the pans back in the oven, rotating their positions and bake for another 15-20 minutes more. Total baking time will be 40-45 minutes.
Remove the pans from the oven and allow the granola to cool on the pan, lifting the edges a bit if they look too brown. The granola will continue to cook a little as it’s resting. Then carefully pour the granola into large jars for storing.
Granola will keep several weeks in an airtight jar.