My dad is one of those people who thrives off routine. From the time he wakes up in the morning to his weekend chore list, his personal brand is pretty much precision and consistency. This trait extends to his breakfast most of all. Growing up, we all knew dad’s cereal housed in a yellow milk carton-shaped box filled to the brim with a crunchy granola that he ate with milk accompanied by a glass of OJ. Every single morning.
Somewhere along the way, the company discontinued his granola, and you would have thought the world had come to a halt. My dad’s entire routine was upended by the removal of that carton from the shelves of the store, and trust me, he checked every retail supplier before finally admitting defeat. Instead of changing his breakfast routine to some other cereal, switching things up to an oatmeal or eggs plate, he started on a journey of recreating his go-to granola recipe.
Now, we all love that morning that happens every few weeks when dad brings out the giant stainless steel mixing bowl and sets for “granola day,” as we’ve lovingly dubbed it. The night before, Dad adds all the dry ingredients to the bowl and in the morning, adds maple syrup and oil, tosses it all together, and adds the granola to a baking sheet. The next hour involves baking, tossing, baking, and turning in fifteen minute increments until his granola has turned golden brown and crunchy. After the granola has had a couple hours to cool, he mixes in dried fruits and raisins. This is my favorite stage, as I lurk around the baking sheet and snack on the dark crispy chunks that form in the corners of the baking sheet.
While dad’s granola isn’t my go-to granola (raisins, bleh), his dedication to the craft of granola-making is one of my favorite things about him. It has inspired me to create my own granola over the years, though I can’t say I’m nearly as precise about the process.
I love granola. In a bowl with milk, as a snack, or over yogurt and pancakes, I love the delicious crunch it adds to any bowl.
Of course like most people, I’m always a little disappointed by how much added sugar is in store-bought brands, and I don’t always want a grain filled option either. After a little experimenting, I’ve found my perfect combo of crunchy, extra flavorful, and just-a-touch-sweet granola.
Instead of using just rolled oats as the base, I replace a big chunk of the recipe base for buckwheat groats. If you haven’t had buckwheat, they’re the hulled seeds of the buckwheat plant. They have a very mild flavor and when toasted, become extra crunchy. It’s a gluten free ancient grain, and has more vitamins and health benefits than other grains like a plain rolled oat.
For the sweetness, I add just a few tablespoons of maple syrup to the mix. The issue with most reduced sugar granolas is that you miss out on some of the chunkiness that other granola’s get when the sticky sugar binds everything together. To get around that, I’ve discovered the perfect way to clump everything together without all the extra sugar. Combine your oil and maple syrup with a nut butter! Mixing it all up creates the glue that holds all the groats and nuts together. Plus, because the groats here are smaller than usual oats, they bunch up together so much better.
In addition, for extra flavor, I reached for my all time favorite spice blend. Go heavy handed on the chai spice here, trust me. It gives the granola an amazing warmth and flavor that is just incredible. Also, don’t skimp on the salt! Whether you’re making normal oatmeal or granola, one trick I’ve learned is to never skimp on the salt. It really lifts all the other flavors up and makes this absolutely delicious.
I hope you’ll give this a try, and let me know your favorite way to use up your granola (who else likes it on ice cream?) Scroll on for the recipe…
- 1 cup buckwheat
- 1/2 cup oats
- 1 tsp salt
- 1/3 cup flaked almonds
- 1 cup nuts of choice (1 did 1/2 cup pecans and 1/2 cup cashews)
- 5 to 6 turns of black pepper
- 2 1/2 tsp cinnamon
- 1 1/4 tsp ginger powder
- 5 cloves of cardamom, crushed
- 2 cloves (about 1/2 tsp of the two spices)
- 3 tbsp coconut oil, melted
- 1 1/2 tbsp almond butter
- 3 tbsp maple syrup
- Scant 1/2 cup coconut flakes
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line a sheet tray with parchment paper and set aside.
- In a large mixing bowl, add all the dry ingredients and spices together. Toss to combine.
- In a small mixing bowl, add the coconut oil, almond butter, and maple syrup together. Stir to combine until smooth.
- Pour the wet ingredients over the dry and toss to combine until everything is evenly coated. *If the mix feels dry, you can add an extra teaspoon of each of the wet ingredients.
- Pour the mixed granola onto the sheet tray into an even layer.
- Place in oven and bake for 15 minutes. Remove from oven and add the coconut flakes to the sheet tray, toss the granola with a spatula and return to an even layer. Place back in oven for another 8 - 10 minutes until the coconut has turned golden brown.
- Remove from oven and let cool.
- Serve with milk, yogurt, or your dish of choice. Store in an airtight container. Enjoy!