Granola certainly has become one of the most touted of healthy breakfast cereals and what we are experiencing now commercially has grown straight out of its roots in the hippie whole grain oat-nut-and-seed kitchen of the 1960s. There are so many different brands of granola these days, it can be made as rich and decadent, or spare and low fat, as you wish.
The name granola is a take on granula, a toasted wheat cereal touted by whole grain movement of Sylvester Graham in the 1900s. Since it is tremendously versatile, it takes to all sorts of additions and variations on the basic recipe.
Whenever you think of making homemade granola, you probably think of large vats of cereal you have to make and baking it in the oven for up to an hour. The microwave makes spectacular granola and in a small few cup batch, an amount similar to what you would get with a box of commercial granola. I was really surprised at the quality and ease of making granola in the microwave.
I buy fresh rolled oats out of the bulk section, which smells delightfully grain-sweet, or Bob’s Red Mill Gluten Free Oats. Boy, are they good. And so darn fresh. Do not use quick- or instant-cooking oats; you want the real thing.
Light olive oil is one of the best substitutes for other flavorless oils and a secret ingredient. That bit of olive oil every day is like cash in the bank of health. Always stir in any dried fruit, along with the wheat germ and flax seed, after cooking or else they will harden and the grains lose some of their nutrients.
Store in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 2 weeks. Serve as a cereal with plenty of milk poured over, in a crisp topping, munching out of hand, with applesauce, or for a change especially nice for that special touch, crumble it over yogurt like in a granola fresh fruit parfait (recipe follows), or over ice cream and other fruit desserts to add flavor and texture. Good granola is such a treat.
Cookware: Wide 2-quart casserole or 11-by-7-inch Pyrex baking dish
Microwave Wattage: 1,100 to 1,300
Total Cook Time: 6 minutes
Standing Time: 30 minutes
Makes about 3 1/2 cups
- 2 cups old-fashioned rolled oats
- 1/4 cup raw sunflower seeds or slivered almonds
- 2 tablespoons firmly packed light brown sugar
- 2 tablespoons unsweetened dessicated coconut flakes
- 1 tablespoon raw sesame seeds
- 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1/4 cup light olive oil
- 1/4 cup honey or maple syrup
- 1/2 cup moist golden raisins ( or combination golden raisins and tart dried cherries)
- 1/4 cup toasted wheat germ (such as Kretschmer’s)
- 2 tablespoons ground flax seed (which we all have on the fridge shelf these days)
1. Line a 10- x 17-inch sheet pan with foil or parchment; set aside. Mix the oats, sunflower seeds, brown sugar, coconut, sesame seeds, and cinnamon in a wide 2-quart casserole or baking dish. Stir well.
2. In a 1-cup measuring cup combine the oil and honey or maple syrup. Microcook on HIGH, uncovered, for 30 seconds or until just warmed and liquefied (for easy pouring). Drizzle the oil-honey over the top of the oats and mix with a large spoon, coating all the ingredients evenly. Smooth into an even layer in the dish.
3. Microcook on HIGH for 2 minutes; stir well and smooth into an even layer.
4. Microcook on HIGH for an additional 1 1/2 minutes; stir well and smooth again. Check for degree of browning in case you like your granola very light.
5. Microcook on HIGH for an additional 1 minute more. You will be able to smell the degree of browning. If you need more cook time, do so at 30 second intervals. The granola will still look moist. Remove from the oven and stir in the raisins, wheat germ, and flax seed while hot.
6. Pour onto the prepared sheet pan and, with an offset spatula, spread out to the edges to make an even layer. Stir every 10 minutes until completely cooled. You can also spread only ½-inch thick, not stir, and let it cool into a granola bark. The granola will crisp up quickly as it cools. If you make the bark, lift the foil or parchment and break into pieces.
Granola Fruit Parfait
- 2 1/2 to 3 cups mixed berries in summer–any combination of sliced strawberries, blueberries, blackberries and/or raspberries-or mandarin orange segments and chopped apple or pear in winter
- 3 cups vanilla yogurt
- 1 1/2 cups granola
2. Add a layer of berries then sprinkle with 2 tablespoons granola. Make 2 more layers, topping each with a tablespoon of granola. You will use a total of abut 1 cup of berries, 1 cup of yogurt, and 1/2 cup of granola for each parfait. Serve immediately or cover loosely with plastic wrap and chill up to 4 hours.
Excerpted from Not Your Mother’s Microwave Cooking, by Beth Hensperger. (c) 2010, used by permission from the Harvard Common Press.
Recipe and text copyright Beth Hensperger 2015
Please enjoy the recipe and make it your own. If you copy the recipe and text for internet use, please include my byline and link to my site.