Granola is a nutritious, energy packed snack that is great alone or on top of vanilla ice cream or your morning yogurt. While I enjoy it as a snack, trying to get my kids to eat it isn't always an easy task which is unfortunate because it comes loaded with fiber.
Unfortunately, many of the better tasting pre-packaged varieties of granola are loaded down with sugar and other ingredients that I normally don't want my kids to over eat. To avoid these additional sugars, I tend to buy the plainer varieties which don't always appease a child's palate. While several companies, such as Prepare Wise, do offer more nutritious granola, I recently decided to save a couple of bucks and try my hand at making my own granola clusters – ones that me and my kids would enjoy.
3 cups of old-fashioned rolled oats
3 tablespoons of brown sugar
¼ teaspoon of kosher salt
½ teaspoon of cinnamon
1/3 cup of honey
¼ cup of canola oil
1 teaspoon of vanilla
Additional Fix-In Options
Dried apples and almonds for Apple-Cinnamon clusters
Cranberries and almonds for Berry Clusters
Toasted coconut, dried mango or pineapple, and macadamia nuts for Tropical Clusters
Preheat the oven to 300 degrees and line a cookie sheet with parchment paper. In one large bowl, mix together the oats, brown sugar, kosher salt, and cinnamon. Once combined, add the fruit and nut combination which most appeals to you and your kids' taste. The amount of put into the clusters is up to you, however, try to use nuts that are unsalted and fruits that weren't preserved with sulfates. These types of fruits and nuts are typically more nutritious and are found in freeze dried meals and snacks.
In a second smaller bowl, combine the honey, canola oil, and vanilla. Once thoroughly mixed, pour the honey mixture over the oat mixture. Then using your hands, mix the ingredients forming clusters of your desired size.
Pour clusters over the lined cookie sheet and bake for 20 to 30 minutes until the clusters are light golden in color. Be sure to keep an eye on the clusters throughout their time in the oven as those that become a deeper golden will have a burnt flavor.
Once light golden color is reached, allow the clusters to cool completely. Once cool, feel free to enjoy, but make sure to store all leftovers in an airtight container as they can go stale quickly if not properly stored.
Not only are my granola clusters cheaper, a small store bought bag can easily reach $5 to $6, but my kids enjoy them much more too. So if you want to create a fun, crunchy snack for yourself and your kids, give the above recipe a try.