Saturday, July 9, 2011

Cherry, Pecan, and Coconut Granola (Low in Added Sugar!)

Most granola that you buy, even at organic or healthy food markets is practically a dessert-like treat with all the sugar that's added.  Jamie and I don't buy cereal (gone are my single dinner days of Honey Nut Cheerios with nectarines), so once in a while I'll make homemade granola, adding as little extra sugar as possible to keep it (mostly) healthy.  Yes, there's still some sugar in it, but there are also whole oats and nuts, which are good for you.

Jamie LOVES homemade granola, so much so that it was his favorite bedtime snack for a while when I was making it every week or two.

This recipe I came up with only has 1/4 cup brown sugar and 1 cup of honey;  since it yields 8 cups of granola, then for every 1/2 cup serving, you'll only get about 1 tablespoon of honey and less than a teaspoon of brown sugar. Which isn't bad at all!  :)  You could also substitute Agave Nectar for the honey, which is even lower in sugar.

No flavor was sacrificed in this version, though, so don't worry, it still tastes totally delicious.  The great thing about making your own granola is that you can custom it to any combination of dried fruit and nuts you like.  Dried cherries and pecans are some of my favorites, but I've also used almonds, walnuts, raisins, dried apricots, dates...  And since there's no science to it, such as with baking, you can increase or decrease the ratio of oats to nuts and fruit, without messing up the recipe.

Baking it at a lower temperature for longer helps to brown it more evenly so that it doesn't end up too crunchy.

Cherry, Pecan and Coconut Granola
(yields 8 cups)
  • 5 cups whole uncooked oats
  • 1 cup chopped pecans
  • 1 cup coconut
  • 2/3 cup dried cherries
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons dried orange peel (or use freshly grated orange zest)
  • 1 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup honey

Preheat oven to 250 F, and spray a 9x13 baking dish with non-stick cooking spray.
Combine all ingredients, except honey, in a large bowl.  Add honey, 1/4 cup at a time, stirring well until all ingredients are coated.

Spread evenly in the pan and bake for 1 hour, stirring every 15 minutes so that the top does not become overly browned.  

Remove from oven and cool completely.  Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator to keep fresh for several weeks.

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