The Best Homemade Granola
I can’t tell you the last time I had a head cold. I can’t even tell you the last time I had a stuffy nose! I don’t know why or how, but somehow I always miss flu season, allergies, and back-to-school sniffles. Chock it up to luck, or eating my veggies if you will, but there is one thing that never fails to knock me on my butt for at least 24 hours: going nonstop.
Over this past weekend, I was reminded why taking some time off and resting is so necessary. Starting on Saturday morning and ending on Sunday night, I was stuffed up, sneezing, and had body aches from head to toe. Within twenty-four hours, my body became a living, breathing, germ machine and I wanted out! Isn’t it so funny that when you’re sick, the only thing you can think about is how great not being sick is?! Thankfully, Chad was kind enough to make me a ton of green shakes, vitamin C drinks, and even made me go on a (much needed) 30 minute walk. I didn’t take any sort of traditional medicine and within one day, I was feeling much better!
I will admit, getting a cold was definitely a blessing in disguise for me. Our weekends have been non-stop lately and it was starting to take a toll on our bodies. We both work full-time jobs and usually the weekends are our time to rest and relax. I don’t know the last time we actually did nothing on a weekend, and being quite an introvert, it feels like years! I know I’m being dramatic, but in all seriousness – I love my weekends and time to do things that I want to do, like make recipes, write to you guys, and get in some gym time. Being a full time student and working during the week, it is really tough trying to balance it all, so weekends are my go to’s. Long story short, I was finally given a chance to do nothing, and despite not feeling too great, I wasn’t going to waste it!
It was a cold and rainy weekend here in Ohio and I was just craving autumn. I was craving pumpkins, cinnamon apples, apple cider, mums, and cozy jackets. After thinking of all the ways to bring autumn to me and my bathrobe on the couch, I kept going back to granola. I am such a sucker for granola. When it comes to granola, servings sizes don’t exist and I honestly eat it by the handfuls. I won’t even lie, I like homemade granola and I love store-bought granola. While I’ve never had a granola that I didn’t like, there is just something about store-bought that always seems to be so much better, no matter how hard to try!
I was craving apples, cinnamon, oats, and sugar. I wanted something comforting, chewy, crunchy, and sweet all at the same time. One thing that makes a great granola, is a great base. Many recipes call for one or more cups of peanut butter for their granola recipes, and I realize that adding an entire cup+ of peanut butter to a recipe can be cringe-worthy, so I stayed clear of it completely. Nut butters do make for a great base, but can add lots’ of refined sugar if you’re not careful. For my base, I stuck with honey and a date caramel sauce. I was just as amazed as you might be to learn that dates make for an incredible and healthy caramel sauce. For this recipe, I simply chopped 10 pitted dates into 3-4 medium sized pieces, let them cook over medium heat for about 5 minutes with a few tablespoons of water and I had the absolute perfect granola base!
If I could only make one homemade granola for the rest of forever, it might have to be this recipe! This soft baked granola recipe is definitely not traditional; it isn’t dry, flakey, or have that ‘baked oat’ taste. It is soft, creamy, crunchy, and dense – everything that makes a great granola even better. This recipe is refined sugar-free, can easily be made gluten free, packed with natural proteins and a ton of fiber! I hope you love this recipe as much as we do!
Soft-Baked Autumn Inspired Granola
What You Will Need
- 1 and 1/2 cup rolled oats *can sub GF oats
- 1/2 cup quinoa (toasting is recommended but optional)
- 1 cup grated apple (about 1 medium sized apple)
- 8-10 pitted dates
- 2 tbsp. honey
- 2 tbsp. cinnamon
To begin, grate 1 medium apple and set aside. Pit and chop dates and melt over medium heat with 3-4 tablespoons of water. Mix often to ensure the dates are not burning, rather softening and creating a ‘syrup’ like substance. Once the dates are soft, transfer into a large mixing bowl and set aside.
*If toasting the quinoa, place 1/2 cup of quinoa into a medium sauce pan and heat for 5-7 minutes. Be sure to stir and shake constantly so the little seeds don’t burn!
Combine the rolled oats, quinoa, grated apple, dates, honey and cinnamon into one large mixing bowl and fold until evenly incorporated. Transfer the mixture onto a parchment lined baking sheet or 9×9 baking dish and bake at 350ºF for 10-15 minutes. For a crunchier, more traditional style granola, bake for 15-20 minutes.
Let the granola cool completely before breaking it apart. This will allow enough time for the sugars to harden and create a dense and well-done granola. I hope you love this recipe as much as we do, I just can’t stop eating it! I prefer to store mine in an air-tight container in the fridge to preserve freshness from the natural sugars. This recipe will last for up to one week in the fridge (if it lasts that long!)