Thursday, April 23, 2009

DIY Granola Made Sugar-Free/No Sugar Added

In a bowl for breakfast, added to yogurt or sprinkled over your ice cream, granola is a healthy treat that almost everyone loves. But unless you make it at home, this delicious staple isn't possible for people who are insulin-challenged.

Don't worry, my sugar-full friends! The recipe below allows for regular sweetener, too.

I hemmed and hawed about making this for a couple of years. Really--at least two years! I was worried that by using sugar-substitutes it would taste... funny. You know what I mean. I also had the idea that it was a difficult process, that it needed a lot of babysitting... oh, how wrong I was. Granted, homemade granola require a little bit of hands-on, but every good thing does, right? The most involved part is taking it out of the oven after 25 minutes and turning it.

One method that I read said to pack it in one 13x9 pan, then invert the whole mess onto another pan. I presumed, incorrectly, that it would come out in one big slab. Not so--but I do recommend this method anyway, because you're more assured of getting it all turned over than if you were to just stir it. But either way, it's easy. Really easy.

This is also very customizable. Don't like coconut? Leave it out. Prefer cashews to almonds? An easy switch--or leave the nuts out altogether if that's your fancy. Replace the raisins with any other dried fruit you like. Maple syrup switches easily with honey or agave nectar, too. And of course you can adjust the spices to your hearts content.

Of course it can also be made sugar-full; the recipe below provides for both options.

DIY Granola

Combine in a large bowl:

- 2-1/2 cups old-fashioned oats

- 1/4 cup dry oat bran cereal (may also use wheat bran, flax meal or other item of your choice; may be omitted)

- 1/2 cup sugar, brown sugar or sugar substitute (I used substitute)

- 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- few scrapes freshly ground nutmeg

In a microwave-safe container, melt:
- 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter

Stir in:
- 1 tablespoon orange marmalade (I used fruit-sweetened ginger-orange marmalade; optional)
- 1/3 cup maple syrup, agave nectar or honey (I used sugar-free "maple" syrup)

If using marmalade, heat for another 20 seconds on high to melt marmalade; stir to combine well. If not using marmalade, skip to next step.

Pour butter mixture over oat mixture and mix until fully incorporated and moistened. There should be no dry bits.
Spread oat mixture into an oiled 13x9 (or so) pan and bake in a preheated 325*F oven for 20-25 minutes.

Remove from oven and invert onto a larger (also oiled) rimmed pan, such as a sheet pan. If mixture sticks to first pan, use a spoon or spatula to get it out. The key here is to keep any stray bits from getting away from the main mass of granola. You don't want those to burn.

Return oats to oven for another 15 to 25 minutes, or until golden. Some pieces might look a bit more brown than others--don't worry, that's okay. Remove from oven and set aside to cool fully and dry out for 2 hours.

In a large mixing bowl, combine:
- 1 cup shredded coconut (I used unsweetened; optional)
- 1-1/2 cups sliced almonds or sliced/chopped nuts of your choice

- 1 cup raisins or dried fruit of your choice

Add cooled granola and gently mix to distribute evenly. Transfer to an air-tight container. Store at room temperature for up to 1 week.


Sam said...

I've been thinking about making granola for years too, I sill haven't though!

Amanda said...

I must encourage you, Sam--if you can make your own bacon, you can do this!

Sara said...

I love granola, but I've never made it at home before. I love that you can customize it to your tastes.

Amanda said...

Hi, Sara! I suspect that if you made it you'd have some de-lumscious medley of fruit inside instead of plain ole raisins like me!

Now that I've finally made it, I really think it's worth it to do yourself--no added preservatives, you put what you want in it, and it's really cheaper, too. I probably used about $5 or less in ingredients and the batch made the equivalent of 2 store-bought boxes. (Boxes of granola cereal in my area are small and around $4 each.)

Dragon said...

This would be perfect on my cereal. :)

Grace said...

granola is definitely something that's better when you make it yourself...better on the body, and better on the wallet. i like your version, amanda!

Amanda said...

Hi, Dragon! Thanks for your comment. Give homemade granola a try... you'll love it.

Thank you, Grace!

I made a hog of myself and ate granola every day for breakfast (which I normally do not eat) and one day for dinner. Now it's gone. Time to make more!

Heather said...

I've been trying to find a no sugar added recipe for granola on the web but the recipes I found call for adding apple or orange juice concentrate! (Duh!)
Thank you for mentioning that you used 'sweetener' and no sugar added 'maple' syrup, as those are what I intend to use as well.

Any thoughts on how to turn this recipe into granola bars?

Amanda said...

Hi, Heather! I hope you find this recipe useful. I really like it--it's become a frequent breakfast dish in my home.

I've never made granola bars. Upon looking at a couple of recipes (Alton Brown recipe here and
Joyful Abode recipe here), I don't know if doing this sugar-free would work. It appears to me that the thing that holds the bars together is the sticky sugar & honey. The sugar-free alternatives don't really have the same sticking power.

If it were me, I'd follow Alton Brown's recipe amounts, substituting oat bran for wheat germ (because I prefer it), sugar subtitute for brown sugar and agave nectar for honey to see if the agave would give it enough body.

If it doesn't work, the worst you have done is a regular batch of granola.

Sorry that's not as helpful as I would like it to be!

Not the Wicked Stepmother said...

Thanks Amanda! I love Alton's 'Good Eats' so I'll check out his recipe.

Heather :)

Amanda said...

I, too, love AB. I hope you'll let me know how the granola bars turn out for you. I'd be interested in trying a no-sugar-added version, myself.

I read your recent post on your blog, by the way. Good stuff--and scary as heck! Teenagers--yikes!

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