I'll confess, my kids end up eating far more cereal than is ideal, because it is something they can grab to eat if I don't have something else ready. But obviously it isn't so healthy, so my sons requested I buy them granola to have as cereal. I'm cool with that, but it gets pricey since it is much more expensive per bowl than other cereals.
I thought of making my own granola, but I knew that most granola recipes are very expensive with lots of nuts and honey and dried fruit. So I decided to attempt to make my own granola but using cheaper ingredients. Instead of using honey (or maple syrup like I saw in vegan recipes) I used date syrup that is a fraction of the cost of honey locally. There is date syrup that is pure dates and is more expensive, so I used the stuff cut with sugar, and is just 60% dates. Before I did that I checked the store bought granola and saw that it had added sugar in it, so I didn't feel like I was making it "less healthy" at least. When I was first testing out the recipe the kids said that it wasn't sweet enough, so I added more sugar into the recipe, and I still don't feel guilty.
As for nuts- I decided to leave them out because they really up the cost. Initially, I tried using peanuts in place of the nuts but my kids told me they didn't like them. I used desiccated coconut as an addition to the oats, since they are cheaper than nuts. And I decided to sometimes add dried fruit like raisins or whatever else I could buy cheaply, but sparingly, and only after it was cooked, so it wouldn't be burnt.
I tried this recipe over many times until I got it right and my boys were helpful with their feedback, since I can't taste it since I can't eat oats. They were also willing to eat the stuff that got somewhat burnt. But finally I settled on a recipe that I'm happy with because of cost and the kids enjoy as well.
As for cost? I haven't measured this out exactly, but since I didn't use a scale but instead went by volume... Oats cost me about $1.40, coconut cost me $1.15, the date syrup less than $0.95, the oil $0.25, the sugar $0.12 and the rest is too negligible. So about $3.87 for this batch. The store-bought granola is $5.71 for a package. And this makes approximately 1 1.2 times the amount, so it is definitely worth the cost.
A note- I used 1 1/2 cups coconut in this and 7 cups oats, but you can play around with it and substitute part of that for nuts, seeds, etc... or even use only oats, as long as there is a total of 8 1/2 cups solid stuff for the rest to stick to.
7 cups oats
1 1/2 cups coconut
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup oil
1 cup date syrup
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
1 tablespoon cinnamon
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
Raisins or any other dried fruit (optional)
1. Mix oats and coconut in a large bowl.
2. Add in the rest of the ingredients other than raisins until completely uniform.
3. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees.
4. Spread your mixture out onto two lined baking trays. I have an extra wide (approx 60 inch) oven that I have an extra long tray for, but if you have a regular sized oven use two trays each as wide as your oven. It is important that you don't spread this too thinly, because then it'll start darkening before it is fully and evenly cooked. Don't make your tray of mixture fully flat and even- you want to leave holes throughout so that it will also cook in the middle and not finish cooking on the edges while the inside is still raw.
5. Bake for 10 minutes. If using two shelves of your oven, switch the position so that the tray on the bottom is now on the top and vice versa. If using one long tray as I do, flip it around so the back is now at the front.
6. Bake another ten minutes.
7. Mix your granola so that it breaks up into chunks and new parts can be exposed to cook, and then return to the oven for an extra 5 minutes. If you see it starting to darken, remove it immediately- this burns quickly, but this is the amount of time that worked perfectly for me when I didn't spread it out too thinly.
8. Let fully cool. If, when cooled, it is a little bit wet return it to the oven in 5 minute increments, letting it cool each time, until it is fully dry.
9. If desired, add raisins or other dried fruit at this point.
Are you a fan of granola? Is your family? Do you make it or buy it? And now have I officially gotten my crunchy "granola" mom status with this, or have I lost it entirely since I added sugar to this? Hahaha. Does this look like something you'd try?
10 minute timer
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