Food + Wine

The Truth About Granola, and make it quick

So, I love granola.  I do.  And I think most people do, right?  What’s not to like?   It more or less tastes like cookie crumbs.  Love it.  However, I will not order granola, nor will I buy it.  Because…. well, most of the granola out there is pure junk.  Ok, so that’s an exaggeration.  It’s a beautiful mixture of lovely and innocent ingredients that are then covered in pure junk.  There’s so much oil, so much sugar… very rarely is granola an actual health food.  Then there are the ‘low fat’, ‘low sugar’, ‘healthy’ granolas you can buy, which take out all of the oil and sugar… and you’re left with a sad display of dried up cereal box dust.  There needs to be a balance between the two.

But first, here’s a little history on the subject (because I know you’ve all been dying to know the genesis of granola)…  Granola came about in the U.S. around the same time as muesli did in Switzerland.  (Muesli being pretty much what granola would be if you didn’t sweeten it or bake it.)  It was initially called Granula, and invented in New York by a man named James Caleb Jackson who owned a health spa.  He made his granula primarily out of graham flour and it, more or less, resembled giant grape nuts.  Then along comes John Harvey Kellogg who developed his own (very similar) version of granula, but then, sneaky fox style, changed the name to granola so he wouldn’t get in trouble with Jackson…

Flash forward to the 1960’s when fruits and nuts were added to make granola more of a health food, and it became a food of choice for all them hippies, which allowed the word granola to later be used as a descriptor for anyone of similar style and mindframe:

Oh, he’s verrrry granola.  

She’s, like, suuuuuper crunchy granola.


And lots of people during that time claim to have ‘re-invented’ granola, so things get a little fuzzy there.  But once we get into the 70’s, ‘Pet Milk’ commercialized granola on a major scale for the first time with Heartland Natural Cereal… Quaker did the same with ‘Quaker 100% Natural Granola’, then came Kellogg’s ‘Country Morning Granola Cereal’ and General Mills’ ‘Nature Valley’.

Class dismissed.  And you’re welcome.

So I’ve been making this granola for years, since my oldest was a tiny lad.  And I’m bracing myself right now for the backlash that is surely to come my way, as the cooking method I use is controversial.

But then again, so am I.  So, bring. it.

I cook my granola in the microwave.  *gasp*  Yep. It’s just how I first developed this recipe when my babies were babies, and any mother out there knows how crucial methods of any kind are during that stage of life.  See, I spent most of my baby-mothering days wearing said baby, so any leaning over and into an oven just didn’t seem appropriate.  Reaching up for a microwave door just made more sense.

This recipe is incredibly easy and quick.  And it has that perfect balance of deliciousness and wholesomeness that you want in a granola.  My whole family loves it, and it never tends to last long when I whip up a batch. It’s that good.

So, I may not go down in the history books for my granola, but I’d like to think I could.


makes roughly 8 cups, or 16 servings

In a large glass bowl, stir together the following…

  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 1/4 cup coconut oil + 1 TB
  • 1/3 cup light brown sugar
  • 1 heaping tsp kosher salt
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon

Make sure the brown sugar has dissolved into the liquid with no lumps.

Microwave on high for 2 minutes, or until boiling.

Remove and add in the following…

  • 3 cups rolled oats
  • 1 cup shredded coconut (I use the natural, unsweetened kind but if you only have the sugared variety, no problem!  It’ll just be sweeter.)
  • 3/4 cup chopped raw walnuts or pecans
  • big splash vanilla extract

Stir well to coat in the hot liquid.

Return to the microwave and cook on high for 4 minutes, stirring a couple times throughout.

Remove and add the following…

  • 1 cup total of a mixture of: golden raisins, chopped apricots and dried cranberries (I buy the apple juice sweetened cranberries from my local ‘crunchy granola health food store’, but use what you have!)
  • 2 TB unsalted butter, cut into small pieces for easy melting

Stir well and let the butter melt and coat everything.

Taste and adjust seasoning if necessary… (sometimes I sprinkle in more salt at this point, or a little more honey… if it seems drier than you’d like, add more oil.  It’s interesting to me how it can change sometimes, so that’s why we taste!)

Spread evenly onto a large, parchment-lined cookie sheet and allow to cool and rest at room temperature for about 2 hours.

It will harden a bit as it cools.

Transfer to an air-tight container and store in the refrigerator for several weeks.

My favorite way to eat it is over some plain, Greek yogurt, topped with fresh fruit… but there’s no wrong way to have it.

Thanks for reading, y’all!  Enjoy your Tuesday. xo

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