Over the summer the New York Times published a survey looking at nutritionists’ vs. public perceptions of healthy foods. They found that granola was one of the foods that generally have a public perception of being healthy but that nutritionists ranked as unhealthy. I think the main reason for this view of granola as unhealthy is that most commercial versions are packed with sugar. That’s one reason I make my own granola and don’t buy commercial varieties (it’s also really expensive to buy versus making it yourself).
I first started making my own granola many years ago after seeing Alton Brown make this recipe on Good Eats. I came to realize though that this recipe has a ton of sugar just like most commercial granola and gradually started cutting back on the sugar. My current recipe has six times less sugar than the original one and I honestly like it better. Here’s a simple recipe if you want to give it a try yourself.
3 c. rolled oats
1 c. nuts and/or seeds (I usually use cashew pieces, chopped walnuts and pumpkin seeds)
1/2 tsp. salt
2 Tbs. maple syrup
2 Tbs. canola oil
Just mix all these ingredients together well in a large bowl then spread on a baking sheet. Bake in a 300 degree oven for 30 minutes then turn the oven off and leave the granola in for another 15 minutes. That’s it! Super easy and healthy too!
Since we got our soy milk maker we’ve been generating a lot of okara (the leftover pulp after straining the soy milk). We like to make almond milk too and of course there’s also pulp leftover from that process. A lot of this stuff has ended up being composted but we do try to make use of it as much as we can. We do love to make granola too. So much so that we’ve been buying oats in bulk by the 50 lb. bag.
Now we’ve taken our favorite granola recipe and modified it to include okara. On another note, we also cut way back on the sweetener. We’ve been trying for a while now to limit our sugar intake and have found that in many recipes we can halve the sugar called for and that tastes just fine to us. The thing about cutting back on sugar is that your taste buds adjust and soon anything that has a “normal” amount of sugar tastes sickly sweet. So go ahead and make this as is. If you find you want it sweeter you can always drizzle a little agave or maple syrup on top when you eat it. Also, feel free to cut the recipe in half. This makes a LOT but we go through it fairly quickly in our house.
What you need:
6 cups rolled oats
3 cups nuts (use all one kind or mix it up – chopped almonds, walnuts, pecans or cashews are all good choices)
1 1/4 tsp. salt
6 Tbs. agave or maple syrup
1/4 c. canola oil
1/2 c. okara or almond pulp
1 c. raisins or other dried fruit (optional)
What you do:
In a large bowl, mix together the oats, nuts and salt. In a small bowl, mix together the agave, oil and okara. Pour the wet ingredients into the dry and mix until all the oats are coated. Spread out evenly onto two baking sheets and bake at 300° for 30 minutes. Turn the oven off and leave the granola inside for another 15 minutes. Remove from the oven and let cool for another 20-30 minutes. Now you can mix in the raisins or other fruit if you want.