Halloween is a big deal at our house. We live in a neighborhood full of tiny trick-or-treaters, and, of course, I love making healthy snacks for friends and family—something to offer wee ones instead of that artificially colored and suspiciously flavored mound of pretend chocolate that may come home in the goblin bag. Everybody needs a splurge sometime, but having the ability to offset some of the ghoulish goodies with a healthy alternative keeps everybody eating well without feeling deprived.

One of my every-year solutions has been homemade granola. My granola recipe is incredibly flexible, allowing for special-needs diets and ingredient preferences. So here’s the basic version, with instructions for the seasonal goblin variety and notes on my favorite ingredient brands. Please don’t be overwhelmed by the huge list of ingredients—you can pick and choose what you want/don’t want as long as the quantities are as listed below. The final product yields at least 20 servings and keeps for a good two weeks in a sealed storage bag or lidded container. So economical, in the long run.

Green Gal Goblin Granola

Preheat your oven to 300 degrees.

variety of grains used in granola

A variety of grains not only adds nutrition but also flavor. Gluten-free choices are now more available.

Assembly Step One: Go with the grain

  • organic rolled oats (certified gluten-free, if need be)
  • organic toasted wheat germ
  • unbleached, organic whole wheat flour, whole wheat pastry flour, almond meal, very fine cornmeal, rye flour, buckwheat flour or oat flour (The addition of flour allows the granola to clump. You may or may not desire this. If you do include flour, use it sparingly, perhaps a quarter cup or less.)
  • organic wheat and/or oat bran (not more than a quarter cup)
  • organic whey protein powder (This is a good choice if you cannot use nuts because it will increase your protein. Keep it to a couple of scoops.)
  • Uncooked whole grain cereal (barley flakes, rye flakes, Quinoa flakes), or high-quality packaged cereals such as Bob’s Red Mill 5, 7, or 12-grain)
  • fresh-ground organic golden flaxseed (Grind in coffee grinder to a fine powder.)

Select your ingredients from the list above to equal eight cups. Combine well in a very large mixing bowl.

For Green Gal Goblin Granola, I used seven and a half packed cups of oat, rye and barley flakes, a quarter cup of oat bran, a quarter cup of ground golden flaxseed.

spices in a dish

This may seem like a lot of spice, but it is flavoring a large recipe, and as it bakes, the spice flavor will mellow.

Assembly Step Two: Spice it up with three to five tablespoons of your favorite dry spices and one teaspoon of salt, which balances the sweet spice

  • cinnamon
  • nutmeg
  • cloves
  • allspice
  • ginger
  • cardamom

How much spice you put in really depends on what your family prefers. We like lots of spice, so four or five tablespoons for us. Put all your spices in the bowl with your dry grains and combine well.

In my Green Gal Goblin Granola I used a tablespoon of Penzey’s Extra-Fancy Vietnamese Cinnamon, a tablespoon of Penzey’s whole nutmeg (ground with my zester), a teaspoon ground cloves, a teaspoon allspice, a half teaspoon cardamom and a very special ingredient—a heaping tablespoon Rapunzel Dark Cocoa.

nuts for recipe

As with most things in life, the nuttier the better. But if you are allergic, seeds can be a great alternative, as well as simply adding more grains to make up the difference in quantity.

Assembly Step Three: Get a little nutty with your favorite raw nuts and/or seeds (depending on diet restrictions, of course) by adding one and half cups

  • organic seeds: sunflower, sesame, pumpkin(shelled pepitas), hemp
  • organic nuts: walnuts, pecans, almonds, cashews, coconut (raw, flaked), macadamia, peanuts, pistachios

Put your desired combination of nuts and seeds into your mixing bowl and combine well. You really want raw, unsalted nuts and seeds for this recipe because the granola bakes, so already-toasted nuts will become overdone. Further, you want to control the taste, which can’t happen if you go with salted nuts.

For Green Gal Goblin Granola, I used walnuts, cashews, almonds, pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds and Blue Mountain Organics Love Raw Food Coconut Flakes.

liquid ingredients

Your liquid ingredients should be a balance of richness and sweetness.

Assembly Step Four: Be sweet by adding one and half cups of liquid, comprised of any/all of the following

  • organic honey or organic raw honey
  • organic pure maple syrup
  • organic blackstrap molasses (unsulfured only)
  • organic peanut butter, almond butter or cashew butter
  • organic milk or almond milk
  • organic coconut milk
  • organic brown rice syrup
  • organic barley malt
  • organic agave
  • organic vanilla, almond or other extract
  • My Coconut Kitchen Coconut Butter—I never make my granola without this wonderful ingredient, at least four tablespoons.

liquid ingredients combinedPut your desired liquid ingredients in a small bowl or large measuring cup and whisk until smooth. You are looking for a glossy, smooth texture that is similar to ganache. You want this to be spreadable, but not runny. Note that I always use coconut butter from My Coconut Kitchen. This wonderful product is both gluten- and dairy-free, and it comes in nine flavors, including “naked.” Keep in mind that this liquid is the only sweetener you are going to be adding to the granola. Your final liquid combination should taste pretty sweet because it will mellow out as it bakes; however, the nut butters make it rich and should not be overlooked.

You will need to use a little patience and a strong arm to work the liquid ingredients into the dry. Use a large wooden spoon and your very clean hands. A little messy, but not too bad.

For Green Gal Goblin Granola I combined a quarter cup of raw honey, a quarter cup of pure maple syrup, a quarter cup of almond butter (chunky), a few tablespoons blackstrap molasses, a couple of tablespoons almond milk (plain), a tablespoon of vanilla, and four tablespoons Divinely Dark Coconut Butter for a special chocolate treat.

granola spread in baking dishesThis very large bowl of granola fills my three 13 x 9 baking dishes and my one 8 x 8 baking dish, all of which I coat generously with cooking spray. I spread out the granola evenly among the baking dishes, being careful to create very shallow layers.

Bake for 60 minutes, stirring every 15 minutes and shifting your dishes around the oven—side to side/up and down. You do not want the granola to get too brown. Cool in pans. Crunchiness depends on ingredients, proportions and your oven. Keep a watchful eye. For a chunkier cereal, allow granola to cool undisturbed; then break into pieces.

assorted dried fruitOnce your granola has cooled, you can add chopped up dried fruit, if you like. When fresh berries and peaches are in season, we go with that, but in fall and winter we use about one to one and half cups dried fruit—always organic and always unsulfured.

Our favorites are:

  • dates
  • cranberries
  • raisins
  • currants
  • blueberries
  • apricots
  • apples
  • cherries

However you make it, this granola is good with milk, almond milk or yogurt. It’s great on cold mornings or when you have a busy day ahead of you and no time for a big breakfast–very filling and very nutritious. It’s also a superb trail mix for hiking and camping. It can be made gluten free, dairy free or nut free with success—just choose your ingredients appropriately. And, it’s the perfect snack for hungry goblins.

One last thing, as much as I love this recipe, it is hard to source the ingredients locally. Many items come from very far away and carry a high carbon footprint. So how do I make it wisely green? I try my best to choose organic, non-GMO ingredients that are fair trade and sustainably grown. I search for companies that give back to their local communities. Doing our best is what counts, I think.

If you give this granola a try, I’d love to hear how it turns out, what ingredients you chose and how you served it.

granola in a bowl