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A few months ago, I noticed this neat product called “Renola” at the Commissary. It’s granola without any oats or other grains, and it only has 5-7 grams of sugar per serving, depending on the flavor. That’s pretty exciting to me! Whatever cereal I have in the morning, I just pour a little in my bowl and then add Renola until I’m happy. The problem is, the stuff is really expensive here in Hawaii. I found some on sale in San Diego for $1.99, but it’s usually $4.99 here. For a 9 ounce package. Yikes. Add three or four of those to your cart and the grocery bill goes up fast! That’s why I set out to make my own grain/oat free granola and see how the price and taste compare to what I’ve been buying. Besides, writing up this recipe allowed me to put off blogging about pistachio date rolls for at least one more week. I feel like there have been lots of pistachios and dates around here, and I don’t want anyone to get bored!
Okay, so, if you want to save money making your own granola, you might not want to just rush out to you Whole Foods or similar type store and stock up on ingredients. Take a minute to comparison shop and see what you can find. For example, cacao nibs were $24/pound at the local Whole Foods (in the bulk section where you can get as much or little as you’d like), but there are several choices on Amazon Prime that cost $11/pound or less (at the time of writing). That is a big difference! Cacao nibs are the most expensive ingredient, but you really don’t need many of them. I recommend only 1/4 cup, unless you’re a huge enthusiast. Let’s pretend it’s the SAT. Chomping a handful of cacao nibs : eating a candy bar :: Eating a handful of dark coffee beans : drinking a latte. They’re good for you and they do taste like chocolate, but they tend to be pretty bitter. A little goes a long way. =)
Honestly, I can’t tell you exactly how my price added up vs there price because I already had the nuts on hand. I buy them in those huge containers at Costco, and I don’t remember exactly how much they cost. The other ingredients cost about $3. They were all organic (and, therefore, presumably more expensive than other products you might find) and I live in Hawaii, so your cost may be lower. I also ended up with about 2 1/2 cups verses the package’s 2 1/4 cups. Compared to the Commissary price, I may not have saved much. Compared to the “other store” prices in the area, I definitely did. Plus, I had the fun of deciding exactly what I wanted in my granola and my version has slightly less sugar.
Look at all those tasty things! They are delicious, but unless you have a super food processor, you probably want to pre-chop the nuts, especially almonds. Otherwise you may end up with whole almonds in your granola! Other than a little bit of chopping, this recipe is mostly measuring and a little bit of time in the oven. Nothing complicated here! Before we get cooking, though, I have to plug my favorite baking sheet. I use the Wear-Ever aluminum “half sheet” pan and love it. Inexpensive, flimsy baking sheets warp in the oven and can send your granola flying! This baking sheet doesn’t budge at 350º. There really is no substitute for high-quality cookware: it can make our break your recipe. Okay, now that I’ve shared my thoughts on bakeware, are you ready to make some granola?
- ½ cup unsalted almonds
- ½ cup unsalted soft nuts (pecans, walnuts, Brazil nuts, macadamia nuts, etc.)
- ½ cup pepitas (shelled pumpkin seeds)
- ½ cup sunflower seeds (shelled)
- ½ cup unsweetened coconut flakes
- ¼ cup cacao nibs
- ¼ cup coconut oil
- 1 Tablespoon honey
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
- 1 Tablespoon dark chocolate powder (or powdered cacao)
- Preheat your oven to 350º Fahrenheit and pull out a rimmed baking sheet.
- Pre-chop your nuts, if you don't have a super food processor (I know I don't!).
- Add the coconut oil, honey, vanilla, and dark chocolate powder to your food processor and process until fully combined. If your house is cold and your coconut oil isn't a liquid, you don't need to worry about melting it - it will process smoothly enough (unless your house is totally freezing and the coconut oil is literally frozen instead of just solid).
- Add the nuts, pepitas, sunflower seeds, coconut flakes, and cacao nibs. Process until everything is broken down into friendly granola-sized pieces, but not pureed into nut butter.
- Do a quick taste test and add more honey, if you'd like.
- Spread the granola out on your rimmed baking sheet. You don't need to pack it down or anything, just spread it out.
- Bake for 10 minutes.
- Stir, turn off the oven, and put the granola back in for 10 more minutes.
- Remove the granola from the oven, stir a few times to help heat escape, and allow the granola to cool completely before storing in an airtight container.
This grain-free granola is so delicious that you can just eat it as a snack! It also goes great on top of “regular” cereal or as a yogurt topper.
Speaking of yogurt – I’ve made my own yogurt before and I keep seeing almond yogurt in the store for about $2 per serving. I like almond yogurt, but I’m not willing to pay that much for it! Plus, as with pretty much everything else, the amount of added sugar is appalling. Does anyone have experience making their own non-dairy yogurt? Is it more difficult than dairy yogurt, or does it work exactly the same way?
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