Vanilla-Scented Granola

Everyone with celiac disease or gluten sensitivity knows the basic gluten mantra: Wheat. Barley. Rye. And sometimes oats. Although subject to debate, oats are put on the “Do Not Eat” list because they are usually processed with wheat and thus subject to gluten contamination. But oats are a wonderfully nutritious, not to mention extremely delicious, grain. They can be used in everything from breakfast porridge and cereal bars to cookies  and, my personal favorite, granola.  In the past, these dishes were generally off limits to gluten-free followers, but this is no longer the case thanks to Bob’s Red Mill. Say hello to gluten-free oats; granola-lovers rejoice!

Indeed, why submit to the boring and inferior store-bought cereal brands when delicious homemade granola is only a few simple steps away? All you need is some gluten-free oats and a few basic ingredients, and in no time at all you will have the granola of your dreams. All you have to do is read on.

Really, what is not to love about a recipe entitled “Vanilla-Scented Granola”? This is truly one of the best granolas I have ever eaten. It is crunchy crisp with a delicate sweet honey taste and a full, natural vanilla flavor (there is absolutely nothing artificial tasting here!).  And what is particularly wonderful about this granola is how simple and adaptable it is. It  pairs wonderfully with any flavor of yogurt or just a splash of milk. And it is easily adapted to suit your personal preferences. For example, I love adding dried cranberries as they offset the granola’s sweetness with their bright tartness, but raisins, apricots, or any other dried fruit/nut combination would be equally delicious. Anyway you have it, I highly recommend making this recipe. But be warned, once you go homemade, you may never want store-bought again!

Note: I typically halve this recipe and bake it in a 9×13″ baking pan, just to make it easier to stir during the baking process. So if you intend to do the full recipe, you will definitely need the larger baking pan opposed to the baking sheet. But other than a few stirs here and there, this recipe takes very little work; no one, however, will be able to tell because this granola tastes gourmet!

Vanilla-Scented Granola
Slightly adapted from Bon Appétit, March 2002

4 cups old-fashioned gluten-free oats
1 cup sliced almonds
1/4 cup packed brown sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/3 cup vegetable oil
1/4 cup honey
2 tablespoons sugar
4 teaspoons vanilla extract

Position rack in middle of oven and preheat to 300 F. Lightly spray large baking sheet or pan with nonstick spray. Mix next 5 ingredients in large bowl. Combine oil, honey, and sugar in small saucepan; bring to simmer over medium heat.

Remove from heat; stir in vanilla. Pour hot liquid over oat mixture and stir well to coat oats completely.

Spread granola on prepared baking sheet or pan. Bake until golden brown, stirring occasionally, about 25-30 minutes (I typically stir about every 10 minutes). Transfer sheet to rack; cool granola completely.

Can be made 2 weeks ahead. Store in airtight container at room temperature.

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