Delcious-ness in a jar

My mum’s granola has always been a serious crowd-pleaser. Crunchy, nutty, different from batch to batch—and regularly requested in care packages. But when I was eating vegan a decade ago, its butter content made it unsuitable.

I couldn’t very well live without homemade granola, so tried a few vegan recipes. Most simply subbed in oil for butter, leaving the final product bereft of buttery richness and slightly greasy. Then, I stumbled on a delicious alternative…

Plant-based perfection

Apple juice is the secret to this almost-unsweetened, use-what-you’ve-got-on-hand, nearly-no-fail recipe. And, although I’m no longer on the vegan wagon (how did I live without cheese?!?), this animal-product-free breakfast/snack remains a favourite.

The easy-to-adapt recipe below leaves plenty of room for experimentation and personalisation—and it perfect for using up little bits of things. I wouldn’t recommend mixing more than three types of nuts and three types of fruit (excepting ginger—I love it with everything!) as it gets confusing for the tastebuds.

Nearly endless possibilities

Pecans, almonds, and hazelnuts (aka filberts) are a great combo for the chopped nuts component and walnuts are lovely, too. You can even use flaked coconut and/or brazil nuts, which are particularly nice paired with ground ginger and topical fruits like mango and pineapple.

For the dried fruit, candied ginger is a must for me, with cranberries, apricots, and figs on the regular rotation as well. Pitted, chopped dates are nice in small quantities (they’re very sweet) and I love dried blueberries. Dried apple rings are wonderful for an autumnal feel and more tropical choices bring a vacation vibe to the depths of winter.

If you’re looking to up the protein/fibre content, add a third of a cup of hemp or flax seeds. Using other flakey grains (like spelt or a pre-mixed blend) for part of the oats also works, just make sure the flakes aren’t fine-ground as the large flakes keep the granola from turning to dust.

I use cinnamon as the main player for the ground spices, adding ground ginger, cardamon, and/or nutmeg in supporting roles and a hint of all spice or cloves for Christmas-y notes (use the latter two sparingly as they can get overpoweringly soapy). Breaking open a tea bag and tossing in the contents (I’ve had good results with chai and rooibos) adds some complexity and uniqueness. The spices inevitably make the kitchen (and maybe the whole house) smell incredible.

My recipe for Chai spice granola delivers a serious Christmas scent, makes a great homemade gift, gives measurements for all the components if you’d prefer not to experiment.

Easy, delicious vegan granola

Makes about a litre (perfect for an empty yoghurt tub), keeps fine at room temperature, and should be eaten within six weeks.

Ingredients

  • 3 cups rolled oats
  • 1 1/2 cups nuts, roughly chopped
  • 2 tsp ground spices (or a little more)
  • 1/2 cup apple juice
  • 1/2 cup maple syrup
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 1/2 cups dried fruit, roughly chopped

Method

  • Preheat oven to 175°C / 350°F (non-convection) and line a large rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper
  • Combine oats, nuts, and spices in a large bowl
  • Mix liquid ingredients together and pour into dry 
  • Stir oat mixture with liquid ingredients to coat and let sit for up to 20 minutes (allowing the liquid to absorb a bit helps make the granola extra crunchy)
  • Spread oat/liquid mixture in an even layer on baking sheet
  • Bake for 15 minutes in preheated oven; then stir the granola-in-the-making and rotate the baking sheet to ensure even browning
  • Bake for another 15-20 minutes until granola starts to smell toasty
  • Stir in chopped dried fruit and bake for 8 minutes or so to ensure everything is toasted evenly
  • Let cool granola cool completely on the baking sheet (grabbing a handful or two to taste test, of course) and store in an airtight container

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