I am an efficiency freak. If I can save time or combine a trip, even if it’s just around the corner four feet to the bathroom, I’ll load up and figure out how to take the fewest number of steps.
I especially have a dislike of dishes, and I’ll try to pull a “two-fer” whenever possible. Making homemade granola bars and granola is one of those golden opportunities.
By making granola AND granola bars at the same time, I can get all of the ingredients out for both recipes at once. There are enough crossovers that this definitely saves steps. I also just use the same mixing bowl and many of the same measuring utensils (make the granola first).
This really is my mom’s recipe from my own childhood. I have fond memories of taking it for a snack at school. You can “drink” the granola from the bowl and then have a cup of milk next to it. I swear, it’s almost better that way than the traditional milk-on-top in a bowl method!
There are about a million different granola recipes on the Internet but this is my favorite, not only because of the nostalgia and habit, but because it really tastes good, with a light, slightly coconutty flavor, and there are ONLY EIGHT ingredients. Some of the other recipes I’ve found take up a whole page. That overwhelms me! (Lydia’s gluten-free granola that she shared here is very doable as well though!)
PLUS, I’ve added a new component to increase the health benefits of the granola, and it had another very surprising result!
Crunchy Coconut Granola Recipe
Remember, save time by making a double (or even quadruple!) batch AND make granola bars as soon as you empty the bowl. You’ll never go back!
- Combine dry ingredients.
- In the pot you used to melt the coconut oil, mix wet ingredients.
- Combine wet and dry ingredients together and stir well.
- Pour into 9×13 pan or a cookie sheet.
- Toast in a 350 degree oven.
- Stir after 10 minutes, then more frequently until browned (every 5 minutes).
- Store in an airtight container.
* ground flax
* sesame seeds
* dried fruit (after baking)
* 1 tsp. cinnamon
Variation: You can also bake at 250 degrees for 30-60 minutes, then turn off the oven and leave the granola inside overnight to crisp up.
Soaked Variation: Because raw oats are going to be tough to digest, I almost always make the "soaked" version nowadays, which is why the photos are all crispy chunks. It tastes even better! I just soak the oats overnight in 1 cup water with a tablespoon of whey and continue with the recipe (minus the water).
Dehydrated Variation: When making soaked granola, you can dehydrate instead of toasting, 12-24 hours at 115-145F.
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Yes, soaked. You can read about the health benefits of soaking here, but really, the granola tastes so much better and has an amazing texture when you soak it, so you should do it even if you don’t buy the phytic acid argument. 😉
If you want to see the soaked version in video form, my 5-year-old son will show you how easy it is – check out the Premium Content series on Healthy Snacks. He does an awesome job, and your kids can totally do this themselves too (along with other snacks and eventually full meals!).
How to Make Granola: The Art of Granola Baking
I make a double batch almost every time I do this. It works well but can take a long time to brown, so try baking potatoes for dinner at the same time (you can stir every 7 minutes with a double batch in a 9×13 pan). Here are some lovely (not!) photos from way back in 2010:
Granola ready to go into the oven.
You’ll learn the finesse of turning the granola without getting it all over out of the pan. Stir from the outside in:
Down and then up in the center:
The homemade granola is about halfway done here, my third stirring after 10 minutes, 7 minutes and 7 minutes. You want to make it evenly spread out when it goes back into the oven.
If you use cookie sheet(s), watch it very closely. Better to err on the side of not brown enough than too brown, which happens quickly at the end! I prefer my baking stone for soaked granola (recipe variations in the Healthy Snacks to Go eBook.)
The finished product, above. This is as toasty brown as you would want to go. The granola browns first on the edges and bottom, which is why stirring is so important.
Traditional Foods? Wish you knew what I’m talking about when I say “soaked”? Check out this soaking grains research OR for a multimedia basics approach, see the GNOWFGLINS Fundamentals eCourse to learn how to cook real, traditional foods at your leisure.
Snacks Efficiency: Save Time in the Kitchen!
While the homemade granola is baking, you should be in the kitchen anyway since you have to stir every 5-7 minutes. I use this time to whip up this chewy granola bar recipe, which can wait in the bowl while I clean up and wait for the granola to be finished and cool enough to store. I often make dinner while this is all happening, too (did I mention I’m an efficiency freak?).
My family has fallen in love with these granola bars, and they are the most popular recipe at Kitchen Stewardship. I can’t keep them on hand fast enough. You can store them right in the 9×13 pan, covered, or cut into bars and store in any tightly sealed container. If you were going to keep them around more than a week, I would recommend freezing them right away to preserve the best flavor. Around here, we haven’t had to do that yet!
Lunch-packing Tip: Have the kiddos (or whomever) bring home the plastic baggie each day and just toss a new bar in. Easy way to save packaging and remember to take a bar every day! Check out all my healthy lunch packing tips and green lunch ideas, too!
Added Bonus: You also only have to turn the oven on once and can use the same 9×13 glass baking dish for both recipes, saving energy/$ and yet another dirty dish!
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With over a dozen different “bar” recipes alone, including many that are grain-free and contain zero refined sugar, I guarantee you’ll find a new family favorite in Healthy Snacks to Go.
Making Your Steps in the Kitchen Count
Kitchen Stewardship is all about helping people balance their time, budget, nutrition and environment, and you can do it all while making healthy snacks! Both recipes are such a healthy upgrade and so frugal compared to storebought items, and the timesaving options are many when combining both recipes in one baking day!
Compared to breakfast cereal’s sugar and puffed grains, granola packs in the protein (nuts) and has natural sweetener (honey). For the bars, you know there’s no trans fats, soy, or high fructose corn syrup, and you can choose your sweetener as well.
Granola in the store is quite expensive, and it often contains unsavory fats like canola and soy (sigh), so for both the health savings and dollars, you’re getting a great deal. The granola bars are less expensive by at least half than storebought granola bars, even the least expensive brands.
I maintain that by using less packaging, especially in the granola bars (if you don’t individually wrap them yourself), you are even protecting the environment a little bit.
Love bars? Here’s one that’s even low carb and much lower sweetener than the granola bars: Almond Power Bars