Yesterday my family knew for sure that we’re back in the groove of the school year because my house was fragrant with the aroma of homemade granola. Mmmmmmmmm. Nothing could be nicer!
This recipe first started evolving when my oldest was training for a 136 mile endurance bike ride. At the age of 14 he was riding several hundred miles a week, and I could barely keep up with his calorie consumption. Feeding him breakfast cereal was an exercise in futility because an entire box would disappear in one gulp and he would still need to eat more. Initially, this recipe came into existence so that I could get serious protein, complex carbs, and reasonable amount of fat into him as efficiently as possible. You can adjust the amount of nuts you put in this granola to either raise or lower the density of the protein/fat in it.
I use two large, disposable foil turkey roasting pans. Being cheap, I don’t dispose of them until they develop holes in them. It’s not hard to wash them out and stash them in the garage after the granola is done.
In a medium-sized glass bowl, microwave and stir until smooth and liquid:
- 2 c. peanut butter
- 2 T. vanilla
- 1 c. honey
- 3/4 c. oil
- 3/4 c. brown sugar
- cinnamon to taste
- ground almond powder (from an Asian grocery store)
- pumpkin pie spice to taste
- cloves to taste
- almond extract
In an enormous bowl, stir together:
- 6 c. rolled oats (NOT quick oats)
- 2 c. walnuts, coarsely chopped
- 2 c. pecans, coarsely chopped
- 2 c. almonds, coarsely chopped
- 2 c. shredded coconut
- 2 c. textured vegetable protein (TVP)
Toss the dry ingredients with the microwaved wet ingredients until evenly coated. Divide evenly between the two roaster pans. Bake at 250 degrees for about 3 hours, stirring every fifteen minutes. Then turn the oven off and let the granola cool completely in the oven. Once it has cooled, store in an airtight container. This is an enormous amount of granola, but it never gets old around my house. You can scale back quantities if you want to make a smaller batch.
Important note: If you want to add raisins or other dried fruit, be sure to stir it in AFTER you’ve baked the granola. Baking raisins or cranberries for 3 hours, even at only 250 degrees, turns them into burned little pieces of coal. Not tasty at all.
Creative variations: I collect up little nut packets from airplanes and add those. Any extra nuts, including mixed nuts or peanuts, get added. I have made this recipe using jam instead of honey, but I had to lower the baking temperature to 200 or the jam would burn. I’m not sure why it burned, but it was icky when it did. I’ve occasionally thrown in a cup of grapenuts or other packaged cereals that were stale and neglected in their boxes. You don’t want to use too much processed cereal, but this is a good way to get rid of the last 1/2 bowl in the bottom of the box.
I have also added powdered milk to the peanut butter/honey/oil mixture to increase food value for my young athletes. Sometimes I’ll stir ground flax seed into this mixture as well.
This recipe is very dense and is NOT a diet food if you eat a huge bowl of it. My favorite way to eat it is to stir 1/4 c. into a bowl of yogurt. It doesn’t take a very big bowl to fill a kid up. We learned the hard way that a small child can’t eat a lot of this. On the other hand, an adolescent boy can snack all day on this and then go out and ride 50 miles.