May 9, 2012

Recipe: Almond-Pecan Granola with Dried Fruit (Low Sugar Version)

After lunch, I enjoy a small treat -- a square of dark chocolate, almond milk hot chocolate -- which may or may not trigger my GERD.  I still haven't figured out why sometimes I have no concern with chocolate, but I do know when my gut is "cranky" I need to steer clear of it.  It's frustrating because I've found a link between chocolate and healthy motility for me -- a few nibbles in the morning and I'm "good to go."

In any case, I've been experimenting with alternative flavors for my treats and snacks.   My recent re-discovery is granola -- something I've enjoyed but always felt it was too sweet, or dry, or contains too many ingredients I don't like.  The solution -- make my own!  The April 2012 issue of Cook's Illustrated includes a recipe for Super-Chunky Granola.  I was intrigued -- making my own "anything" is always fun.   The cook/author developed a recipe for a very chunky granola, which sounds great to me, but the amount of sugar -- probably the binder -- is not acceptable so I simply omitted it.  I also added cinnamon, and I used two kinds of nuts.   I used walnut oil instead of vegetable oil (better for the gut?  tastier?  healthier?  all three?).  My result?  The usual crumbly granola with a few chunks but so delicious and so flexible -- and a GERD-friendly treat!

Here's my adaptation.  I also adapted the entire amount which originally resulted in 9 cups!



1/4 C. maple syrup
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 C. walnut oil
2 and 1/2 C. old fashioned rolled oats
1 C. raw almonds, chopped coarsely (chopping by hand works well)
1 C. raw pecans, chopped coarsely (chopping by hand works well)
1-2 teaspoons cinnamon (more or less to taste)
1 C. raisins (whole) or other dried fruit (chopped)

1. Heat oven to 325 degrees.  Line rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper.
2. Whisk maple syrup, vanilla and salt in large bowl.  Whisk in walnut oil.  Fold in oats, cinnamon, and nuts until thoroughly coated.
3. Transfer oat mixture to prepared baking sheet and spread across into thin, even layer (about 3/8 inch thick).  Using stiff metal spatula, compress oat mixture until very compact.
4. Bake until lightly browned, 40-45 minutes, rotating pan once halfway through baking.
5. Remove granola from oven and cool pan on wire rack to room temperature, about one hour.  Do not rush this part!
6. Break cooled granola into pieces of desired size.  In my case, I got mostly a "crumbled" result, but this did not affect the delicious-factor one bit.  Stir in dried fruit and store in an airtight canister in the refrigerator for up to 2 weeks.

My suggested variations: Add coconut, flax, different spices (nutmeg? cardamom?), vary the nuts, try different dried fruits (apples, pears, cherries, limitless options!), add carob or chocolate chips if you can tolerate them, experiment with other oils.

Note on chopping nuts:  I use the plastic bag method -- I put whole nuts into a thick freezer bag, and grind them from the outside of the bag using a small, heavy ceramic bowl.  This results in a great texture, and is excellent upper arm exercise!

Makes 4 and a 1/2 cups.


  1. That looks great! The recipe I use is from one of Mark Bittman's books - Food Matters, I think. It provides a basic framework for the granola, just outlining the quantities, with suggested ingredients. The main difference is in the oil - Bittman's recipes omit the oil. So I wonder if that's the binder, since mine is always more like a toasted muesli texture rather than chunky.

    I'm intrigued by the potential use of carob chips. I'll have to look into that.

    One last thing - I am not sure I would grind nuts that way, since as the bag becomes abraded from the friction, it might make it easier for plastics to enter your food. If you have two similar sized sturdy bowls, though, you could put the nuts in one, nest them, and use the top to crush them. I expect this would work for softer nuts, such as pecans, walnuts, and cashews, but perhaps not so much for almonds?

  2. Update on my nut grinding: I still enjoy hand-grinding my nuts, and have been experimenting with doing so on a chopping board or rimmed baking pan (so nut fragments don't go everywhere), and keeping the ground nuts in a glass container. It's been working out well so far. Thanks for the reminder about the plastic bag residue!