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Not Too Supersweet Granola Recipe

timv's picture

I like granola, and I used to particularly like the really cheap granola that came in clear plastic bags without any recognizable brand name. But it got to be hard to find and I haven't see it in a long time. I could never deal with the stuff sold as granola by Kellogg's, Post, or other major cereal brands. I guess sugar costs more than oats do, because the boxed stuff was always way too expensive and way too sugary for me, and that's saying a lot because I really like sweet stuff. Some bulk granola in the bins with the scoops and the flimsy bags and plastic clips was pretty good, but the supply was often inconsistent and it tended to be pricey too.


timv granola mix recipe
timv granola mix recipe

So about six months ago I googled for granola recipes and found quite a few. Most had a few things in them that didn't look like they needed to be there, but I tried to identify common ingredients and managed to abstract out a fairly plain and simple recipe. I've been making it regularly and it's been working well for me. So without further...:


4 cups "old fashioned" oats (not "quick" oats)

2 tbsp brown sugar

1 tbsp nuts (almonds, walnuts, or pecans) finely chopped

less than 1/8 tsp salt

1/2 cup vegetable oil (canola seems best)

1/3 cup honey

1 tbsp water

2 tsp molasses


Combine dry ingredients (oats, brown sugar, nuts, salt) in a mixing bowl. Mix well to break up brown sugar lumps. If brown sugar is particularly lumpy, and sometimes it is, crush lumps in a small bowl with a fork first. Note that my smallest measuring spoon is 1/8 of a teaspoon, and I don't even use that much salt. It makes a difference, but a little is all it takes.

Add liquid ingredients (oil, honey, water, molasses) to small pot and heat on stove over very low heat, just enough to thin the honey and molasses. Pour onto dry ingredients and mix very well.

I divide this mixture between two 9" x 13" rectangular baking pans and it's just enough to cover the bottom of both pans with a thin but even layer. Bake for 30 minutes at 300 degrees F. Turn pans after 15 minutes if there's any doubt about the evenness of heat in the oven.

Remove from oven after 30 minutes. Granola should be very slightly browned, and maybe just a bit darker near the edges of the pans. (I can't see any difference when it's in the oven, but it's clearly toasted-looking when it comes out.) It will still be soft when removed but it hardens quickly. After five minutes, crumble just a little with a fork or spatula and scoop into a storage container.


Notably, it's pretty cheap to make. A 42 ounce cylinder of oats is less than $3.00 at Food Lion, and I get close to three batches out of one of those. Dollar Tree has one-cup honey bear bottles (for one dollar, of course.) I think those are the two most expensive ingredients.

Also, while it isn't nearly as sugary as most store-bought granola, there are still lots of calories in there so don't get carried away with it. But it's mostly pretty decent stuff.

I can notice even pretty small changes in ingredients (like different vegetable oils, or a little bit more or less salt) but you can play around with it and probably still get something that's recognizable as granola. It doesn't seem particularly touchy about that.

I've kept some for two weeks or so without noticing any changes. Beyond that I can't say because it's all gonez.


andrewinnc's picture

Re: granola recipe

Thanks for the granola recipe timv. Sounds really tasty and easy to make. I am going to have to try that one.

Also wanted to thank you for your tip on Juicy Juice and water mix in the camelback. I have been doing that since I read your article and like it so much better than gatoraide or any other sport drink I have tried. My body seems to be staying hydrated and getting all the nutrients it needs, without the gatoraide side effect of massive stomache bloating.

I ran across this recipe to make your own powerbars last summer, it is also easy to make and has a very good taste too.


    * Canola cooking spray
    * 1 tablespoon butter or canola margarine
    * 1/3 cup reduced-fat smooth peanut butter
    * 2 cups miniature marshmallows, lightly packed
    * 1 cup low-fat granola
    * 1 cup Rice Krispies cereal (or other puffed rice cereal)
    * 1/3 cup ground golden flaxseed (golden flax works better in this recipe)


   1. Coat an 8x8-inch baking pan with canola cooking spray. Put the butter, peanut butter, and marshmallows into a medium-sized microwave safe bowl and microwave on high for 30 seconds, or until mixture is just melted. Stir to blend.
   2. Microwave again briefly if the mixture isn't melted or smooth. Then stir in granola, puffed rice and flaxseed.
   3. Spread the mixture in the prepared pan, flattening it evenly with a sheet of waxed paper. Let it cool completely before cutting into 8 equal-sized bars.

8 bars

Nutritional Information:
Per serving: 207 calories, 5.5 g protein, 31 g carbohydrate, 8 g of fat ( 2 g saturated fat, 1 g monounsaturated fat, 1.8 g polyunsaturated fat) , 4mg cholesterol, 3 g fiber, 174 mg sodium. Calories from fat: 35%. Omega 3 fatty acids = 1 g, Omega 6 fatty acids = 0.7 g.

SOURCE: © 2005 Elaine Magee
From The Flax Cookbook by Elaine Magee, MPH, RD (Marlowe & Co.)

I prefer to use Olive Oil when I can so I changed the canola out to olive oil spray. Seems to work just fine.  

timv's picture

Granola, Energy Bars, Juicy Juice

You're quite welcome, Andy, and thanks for letting me know about your experience with the diluted Juicy Juice mix. I got started on that well over a decade ago, and although I might have gotten one or two others to buy the juice and drink it, you're the first one I know of who has actually tried it as a sports drink. As you say, it sits a lot better than anything else I've tried, whether commercial drinks or plain water, which matters a lot with the indecent amount of fluid needed in our hot and humid summers. And without any artificial flavors or sweeteners, it takes much better too. (Original comment to Blake's post here for anyone interested who missed it the first time.)

I hear that some people have trouble dealing with big volumes of fructose, as I would if it were lactose, and this wouldn't be a good thing to try if you were one of those people.

I'll definitely give the bars a try. But I do hope that they have a more chew-able consistency than real Power Bars. They're way too much work for me! (Still liking my Wint-O-Green Lifesavers btw.)

roadskater's picture

Timv Granola, Valday M&Ms, Wholly Guacamole, Mountain Lightning

A special thanks goes out to timv not only for getting me out to skate occasional hacking cough aside the last couple of days, and a tip of the hat to the weather, too, which was better than predicted. Also, I had a chance to sample some of timv's granola, perked up even more with white, pink and red M&Ms, wisely purchased after the thrill was gone and while the M&Ms were still just as good as before the day. Funny how we have our holidays color-coded like sports teams. I'm not able to eat anything grainy or crunchy while skating, it seems, a strange state that has always seemed thus and leads me to have fewer options, but as soon as I got in the car it was great to finish the rest of it off within the fifteen minute or whatever window of opportunity or whatever for replenishing me muskles. After that a trip to the grocer led me to a roast chicken with herbs, some Santanitas white corn chips, and awesome Wholly Guacamole (Spicy version). Oh. And a Hershey bar. I'm eating for two even if there aren't two. Thankfully, I started on the roast chicken first so I got some protein and had plenty left and at least delayed the dive into the chip bag. It was a grand day for skating at Country Park. The wind off of the lake was consistently stiff (particularly 5A, the higher of the two, just after the flagpole switchback) even though much of the park seemed very calm. I think there's another windy spot at the 5B dam of course, and a little bit of a windy spot in the gap at the bottom of the BMX course where there's a gravel lot to the left. Oh yeah, the $.67 per 2 litre Mountain Lightning drink really hit the spot after skating too; I was thinking of trying a flat version as a cheaper Gatorade like the TdF guys used to do with flat Coke (but not during their rides perhaps). OK those are today's random firings, and food confessions!
timv's picture

Enjoyable afternoon

Yes, it was quite a nice skating afternoon. I could have done with less wind, and some of the fair-weather park-goers were less aware of their surroundings and of fast-approaching skaters that I might have preferred. Nevertheless it was a good time.

And making trail mix by adding rasins and M&M's (Valentine's Day or otherwise) is one of the best things to do with granola, definitely a big part of my motivation for working up the recipe. Thanks for the shoutout.


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