I love granola, but I don't love the added sugar in most store-bought brands. I set out in search of a recipe that met my strict criteria: Tasty, easy, and no added sugar. Believe it or not, there's quite a few out there, most using applesauce as a binder and sweetener. I tried several, and after some fun (and filling) trial and error, ended up creating my own version.
This recipe is extremely easy, flexible, and forgiving. This is a one-bowl deal: throw it all in, mix it all up, bake it altogether. You can interchange the ingredients to create your own preferred combination of nuts, seeds, dried fruits, and spices. And, it doesn't have to be perfect. Got more or less of one ingredient? That's OK, add more or less of another. No need to be exact.
Yes, it has sugar, but it's all naturally occurring fruit sugars, no processed added sugars.
Yes, it has fat, but mostly naturally occurring healthy fats from nuts. The small amount of added oil helps to brown the mixture, as it has no added sugars coating it.
Don't like this particular mix? Try substituting: You can use any two cups of nuts, like pistachios, walnuts, macadamia, hazelnuts... Seeds, you can use all sunflower or pumpkin seeds, or try sesame seeds. Raw and unsalted nuts work best, and these are found in the bulk section of grocery stores, in smaller quantities on grocery store shelves, or, can be bought online, explore your options! Fruit, any chopped dried fruits will work. Imagine dried cherries, cranberries, or chopped dates. You can skip the cinnamon, or try a different blend of spices. Want it to taste just like apple pie? Try apple pie spice, which has ginger and nutmeg in addition to cinnamon. Go crazy!
Here's the basic recipe for a large batch (12 cups). Want less? Halve all of the ingredients:
- 3 cups of rolled oats (can be regular or quick)
- 1 cup almonds, raw, unsalted, coarsely chopped
- 1 cup cashews, raw, unsalted, coarsely chopped
- 1 cup pepitas (pumpkin seeds), raw, unsalted
- 1 cup sunflower seeds, raw, unsalted
- 2 cups raisins
- 1/2 cup crushed apple chips OR chopped dried apple
- 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
- 4 tablespoons cinnamon
- 2 cups applesauce (Preferably unsweetened. Apple or pumpkin butter will also work well here)
- 1/4 cup vegetable oil (can be sunflower, coconut, anything that doesn't have too strong a flavor)
Preheat the oven to 350°.
Use a LARGE mixing bowl and add all of the dry ingredients (up to the cinnamon). Mix it all together with a wooden spoon or your hands.
Pour the applesauce and oil over and mix, until the dry ingredients are just moistened.
Use two large cookie sheets (lightly greased OR use a silicone nonstick mat) and spread the mixture out over them both, as evenly and flat as you can.
Bake for 15 minutes, then check, and mix it up a bit with your wooden spoon. Bake for another 15 minutes and check. If the corners are turning dark brown, take it out and leave it to cool. If not, leave for another 5 to 10 minutes, until the corners are browned. As it cools, it will crisp up.
This recipe makes about twelve cups of granola, and I divide it up: some stays with us to top yogurt and fruit for breakfast, and some goes in pretty cellophane bags with metallic ties to give away to family and friends.
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- Calories per half-cup portion: 261
- Fat: 11 gm (2 gm saturated, 0 trans fat, 0 cholesterol)
- Protein: 5 gm
- Carbohydrate: 40 gm (6 gm fiber, 23 gm sugars)
- Sodium: 89 mg
- Potassium: 268 mg
- Iron: 14% RDA
- Calcium: 4% RDA
Contributing Editor and Physician at Massachusetts General Hospital