Sunday, April 7, 2013

The Sweet Smell of Cinnamon - A Granola Recipe

I just love the way my kitchen smells when I bake granola.  Infused with vanilla and cinnamon, the aromas fill my tiny apartment.  When I started living more "budget-conscious", I realized how expensive and sugar/oil-loaded store-bought granola was.  It's one of my favorite foods, and I became increasingly more interested in trying a concoction out in my own oven.  When I landed on Pinterest, I immediately started searching for granola recipes.  At first, I was hunting for the raw variety, but since I don't own a dehydrator, that would make raw baking possible, I opted for a more traditional oven-baked "oat-based" granola.  

I landed upon a couple promising ones, but immediately I knew I would need to make some modifications.  I'm still perfecting my own version, but this is as close as I've gotten to satisfaction.  The origins for this recipe are from, and to which I'm most grateful for providing me with an excellent foundation.  At first, I tried the recipe (cutting everything in half to yield less product), but the brown sugar solidified and wouldn't "melt" during the heating process.  While the result was still delicious, I found it to be too sweet.  The next time I tried it, I would use maple syrup instead of the brown sugar.  I cut the sugar in half, and the end result was still pleasant, however, I may end up adding a little more sweetener in future attempts, since the soy milk I use is unsweetened.

Even so, I've been using this modified recipe for several weeks.  My room-mate has caught on, adding dried apples, pears, cranberries, or raisins.  My mom simply can't stop snacking on it, and I find it's the perfect way to start the day, or to get through the mid-afternoon "slump".

I hope you enjoy and continue modifying as I have.  There's nothing quite like home-made granola, and the sweet smell of cinnamon.

Recipe (yields about 6 cups of baked goodness):

• 4 cups rolled oats (I buy mine in bulk.  I prefer thick oats, but any kind will do.  I've considered making this with buckwheat, instead, to create a grain-free version)

• 1/2 cup flax meal (you can find this at Trader Joe's, where it's more affordable.  I like mixing this in with oatmeal and smoothies, too, so you can keep it in your cupboard for such occasions)

• 1 cup sliced almonds (you can slice them yourself or buy them pre-sliced.  They add just the right amount of crunch)

• 1 cup sliced walnuts (you could also use pecans or cashews- I just love the taste of these after they've been baked with the cinnamon and vanilla - I might try these by themselves for the holidays)

• 1/2 cup sweetened (or not) coconut flakes (optional) - (adds a little more coconut flavor and texture)

• 1/3 cup coconut oil (or more, depending on desired consistency - full recipe calls for 3/4 cup) - (I prefer raw or cold-pressed oils if available)

• 1/4 maple syrup (or more for desired sweetness - the full recipe calls for 1 cup sugar, so I may end up upping mine to 1/2 cup)

• 1/4 raw honey (optional - this will add a different flavor, but I like the extra sweetness, plus I like licking the spoon when I'm done adding it to the mix)

• 1/4 tsp salt (helps to bring out the sweetness and the flavors of the 

• 1/2 Tbs vanilla (sometimes I add the whole Tablespoon - I'm crazy about vanilla)

• 1/2 Tbs cinnamon (or if you're like me, you won't measure this part - I'm also crazy about cinnamon)

• 1/2-1 cup dried fruit (optional - if you skimp on the sugar, you may choose to add more dried fruit to balance the palate)

Step 1: Pre-heat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.  Add the oats, coconut flakes, nuts, flax meal, and cinnamon to a large mixing bowl and stir well. 

Step 2: In a small pot, add the coconut oil, maple syrup, honey, vanilla, and salt, and heat gently, just until the coconut oil melts completely, and be sure to stir in order to fuse the flavors together.

Step 3: Pour the "wet" mixture into the oat mixture and stir until well combined.  Sometimes I stir with my hands, just to make sure all the goodness at the bottom of the bowl gets utilized.

Step 4: Take a paper towel and spread some of the left-over coconut oil to coat a large baking sheet.  I prefer sheets that have edges, which help prevent the oats from falling off while you take it in and out of the oven.

Step 5: Bake for 12 minutes. You'll notice browning around the edges.  Stir well, and bake for another 10-12 minutes, until the oats have reached a golden brown color.  If you decide to bake with the full amounts, you may have to stir again and bake for a few more minutes.  Trial and error, as different ovens produce different results.

Step 6: Let the granola cool completely.  It will be incredibly tempting to dive right in and take a bite, but please proceed with caution, as it just came out of a 350 degree oven.  If you plan on adding dried fruit, you can add them at this time.  

Step 7: Transfer your creation to tupperware containers and store in a cool, dry place for up to 3 weeks.  But I guarantee you it won't last that long.  It's too delicious!  

Please let me know if you have any other ideas for making this the best granola ever!  And thanks to Suzanne at for sharing this amazing recipe!