Growing up, we had some neighbors who I will lovingly describe as hippies. The wife wore funky printed natural fiber clothes and always smelled a bit funky too — I later learned she was a fan of patchouli. Her husband wore tie-dye t-shirts that expressed his love for the Grateful Dead and often sported socks with his Birkenstock sandals. I’m not sure if they were dyed in the wool hippies or just really loved that laid back style, but one thing I will never forget about them is their dedication to granola. They always had huge containers of granola and experimented with some truly unique combinations. From that moment on, I always associated granola with hippies. I also didn’t eat granola after that period in early childhood until I met my husband, who was also a fan of granola. Considering when I met my husband he sported long curly hair and was a fan of the Grateful Dead and Birkenstocks, I can’t say my view of hippies as granola lovers has changed. However, I have learned to embrace granola without feeling like I should be wearing tie-dye shirts.
What in the world does this have to do with cooking with kids?
Probably not much, but I can’t talk about granola without telling that story, so you’re welcome. Also, I promise to not give you the recipe for their “special granola” they kept in a box on top of their fridge. Also, I don’t know that recipe, so there’s that too.
My kids ALWAYS want to help in the kitchen. Of course, for a four-year-old and 18-month-old, their version of helping is seeing who can stir the fastest to splash liquids or how sneezing in the flour makes it go everywhere. When I want a pretty mess-free recipe that still lets them “help” and not drive me crazy, I pull out this recipe. The beautiful thing about granola is ANYTHING GOES. That’s right; you can add any type of toppings you want and it will taste delicious. You can substitute applesauce, agave, honey, coconut oil, and anything else your heart desires and it will taste yummy.
You can eat it as cereal in a bowl of milk, on top of yogurt, mixed with some diced fruit, or even on top of ice cream. Our family’s favorite way to eat this is as a snack by the handful. It’s crunchy and hits the spot when you want something crunchy, salty, and sweet while still being relatively healthy.
Here is my recipe, but feel free to mix and match your favorite add-ins to make this work for your family. I mean, just look at all that crunchy goodness! Enjoy!
- 3 cups rolled oats
- 3/4-1 cup of chopped nuts (walnuts, pecans, almonds)
- 1/4 cup unsweetened applesauce
- 1/4 cup of sweetener (honey, maple syrup, or agave syrup work best)
- 2 teaspoons coconut oil
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
- 1 teaspoon cinnamon
- 1/8 teaspoon salt
- Shredded Coconut
- Chocolate Chips
- Dried Fruit such as cherries, apricots, mango, pineapple, or berries
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
- On a waxed lined baking sheet, spread out oats and toast for 10-15 minutes, stirring occasionally.
- While the oats are toasting, combine applesauce, honey (or sweetener of choice), coconut oil, and vanilla.
- Stir in salt and cinnamon. Make sure mixture is well combined.
- After oats are toasted combine with the applesauce mixture.
- Spread mixture onto baking sheet and bake an additional 10 minutes, stirring often, until granola is the desired crunchiness.
- Remove from oven and cool completely.
- Store in an airtight container and store for up to 2 weeks.