Thursday, February 11, 2010

Sesame-ginger granola

I've been on a granola making kick lately. Fairly often I find I'm not in the mood for breakfast cereal. Besides the fact that they're super expensive for the ingredients that are actually in them, I just find them very boring. The main advantage I see to making your own granola are that you can control what goes into it, thus you can make a breakfast food that you are totally psyched about eating in the morning. A basic granola recipe is 6 cups rolled oats ("old-fashioned," not quick or instant) plus 2 c. seeds, nuts, and/or other grains, spices, and half a cup to a whole cup of honey or other sweetener, and up to a half a cup of oil or nut butter. I don't really like dried fruit in my granola so much, but you can add as much of that as you want to - just add it after baking so the raisins don't turn into tooth-destroying little rocks.

I love anything with sesame in it, so I was looking to make a sesame heavy granola. I think this one worked out really well. The texture is interesting and perhaps not very typical - somehow it ended up containing lots of chewy bites of oats, sesame seeds tahini and honey. The tahini I used was kind of old and thus very seperated into the solids and the oils; even heating didn't not homogenize it well. The chewy bites contrasted nicely with an overall crunch. It's almost like having sesame candy for breakfast. If you prefer a thoroughly crunchy granola I think you could just bake it longer and/or hotter.

The granola below is less than 2/3 the price (per ounce) of Bear Naked granola, Cinnamon Toast Crunch, or even Cheerios, and it is way more interesting. The main cost is actually the tahini, so you can see how making a more basic granola (with just nuts and raisins, for example) would be even cheaper. I've listed the costs of the ingredients for illustration - I just grabbed prices off of online listings pretty quickly - the honey seems too expensive, I think if you buy the 1/2 gallon containers like I do it's a lot cheaper. It's also super easy - the active working time is just a few minutes. The only tricky part is making sure it doesn't burn. At only 300, burning is much less likely, but you should still check on it and stir. Most recipes I've seen call for 325 or 350 but using tahini (or peanut butter) makes it easier to burn, so I think 300 is best.

6 c. oats ($1.52)
1/2 c. sesame seeds ($1.04)
1/2 c. wheat germ ($0.30)
3 T. ground ginger ($0.67)
1/2 t. salt (negligible)
1/2 c. honey ($1.49)
1/2 c. tahini ($1.61)
1 T. canola (or other neutral) oil (negligible)
2 T. orange juice (negligible)

1. Pre-heat the oven to 300.
2. In your largest mixing bowl, stir together oats, sesame seeds, wheat germ, and salt.
3. Over medium-low heat, stir together honey, tahini, oil, and orange juice until smooth (if possible).
4. Pour the hot liquids over the oat mixture and toss till well coated.
5. Spread the mixture onto two jelly roll pans (cookie sheets with sides).
6. Put in the oven for 25-30 minutes, stirring about every 5-8 minutes, and switch oven positions halfway through. Keep an eye out for any burning.

Total price: $6.63
Total weight: 32.1 ounces
Price per ounce: $0.21
Price per serving (8 servings): $0.81

They are infinite. But one of my other favorites has pumpkin seeds, pecans, a few tablespoons of cocoa powder, and 1/2 c. peanut butter instead of the tahini.


  1. I was on a major granola making kick a few weeks ago until I realized that it was only encouraging me to eat copious amounts of granola, which made my tummy hurt.

    Cinnamon-Raisin with fresh ground cloves and nutmeg was my go-to. Then I got into all the weird seeds and nuts you can add, perhaps because of the psychosomatic affect of thinking it was good for me.

    Chia seeds were my favorite becuase they're quite versatile. Yes Chia seeds, like the Chia Pet. How can you go wrong with a seed that turns into a gel when you add water, and then grows on any aerated surface?

  2. Wow, chia seeds?! Very interesting. I think seeds are an under-utilized source of good nutrition - some have good amounts of protein, sounds like chia are in that category. Do you buy them online?
    When I first read your comment, I thought you wrote "chai" which also sounds good, may have to experiment with both. Perhaps chai flavored chia granola?