Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Homemade Gluten-Free Granola

My in-laws are amazing cooks!  Like, they should open their own food cart, have their pictures on jars of their own sauce kind of cooks.  And lucky for us not only are they always willing to cook for us, they are also willing to share their recipes.  One of my favorite things that my mother-in-law makes is granola.  It is so hard to find decent gluten-free granola as the store-bought brands never taste quite right.  It is either too sugary or too greasy or nothing like granola. So I was really excited when I first tasted my mother-in-law's granola.  The only thing that needed to be changed from the recipe were the oats;  we had to get certified gluten-free oats, which taste exactly the same as regular oats.  (Just a side note, oats themselves do not have gluten.  They are just highly susceptible to cross-contamination. Certified gluten-free oats have not been cross-contaminated).

To start, you can make a large batch or small batch.  You can easily cut the ingredients in half.  Just be careful to not, as my mother-in-law says, "Overflow your bowl!" :)  You will need (for a large batch):

  • 4 lbs (2 large bags) of gluten-free rolled oats (My favorite brand is Bob's Redmill)
  • 1 cup canola oil
  • 1 cup honey (maple syrup and agave nectar also work)
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla (optional)
  • 1 tablespoon almond extract (optional)
  • Any mixture of nuts that you like (I use almonds, cashews, pecans, sunflower seeds, and pumpkin seeds.  The amount and mix you use is up to your taste)
  • 1 very large bowl
  • 3-4 cookie sheets

Preheat your oven to 325 degrees. In a medium-sized saucepan, combine oil, honey, salt, vanilla, and almond extract.  The vanilla and almond extract are optional; I just like the flavor.  Heat the mixture over low heat for 5-7 minutes until it just starts bubbling.

While the honey mixture is heating, put the oats in the large bowl.  You are going to have to do some serious stirring, so if you need to split the oats in to two bowls, that's okay.  Then, stir your nut mixture in to the oats.

Once the honey mixture starts bubbling, remove it from the heat and stir so you get an even consistency of honey and oil. Then, pour the honey mixture over the oat and nuts mixture.  It is REALLY important to stir the oats and nuts as you pour the honey because you need everything to be coated with the honey and oil.  It may work better to pour a little and then stir the oats and nuts vigorously before pouring more honey.

Once all of the oats and nuts are coated with the honey mixture, spread them on a cookie sheet.  You will want to leave about 1/4 inch above the lip of the cookie sheet uncovered to keep the oats from burning.  Once you have poured all of the oats and nuts, you will have about 3-4 cookie sheets full.

Place the cookie sheets in the preheated oven.  Now, the temperature of the oven can be adjusted to meet your needs. 325 is a safe temperature but you can heat the oven to 350 if you will be in the kitchen watching to make sure the oats don't burn.  Once they start to burn, they get really black really quickly.  So, I usually like to bake them at 325.

At 325 degrees, bake the granola for 25-30 minutes.  Halfway through the cooking time, remove the granola from the oven and stir so all of the granola on the edges is moved to the middle.  This prevents burning.  Once it is done baking, it should look like this:

Let the granola completely cool before putting it in containers.  If you enclose it while it is still warm, it will get soggy.  Once it is cool, you can enjoy it as snack on its own or put it in milk to enjoy it as cereal.  This is a great power-up snack for any run or exercise!

Any favorite gluten-free snacks? Share them in the comments section!

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