The back to school catalogs began arriving in mid July and straight into the recycling bin they went. Now, more than a month later, I can no longer deny the fast approaching first day of school. The highlighted square on the calendar smugly reminding me that order will return in the form of routines, schedules, homework, and afterschool activities. Fuel is needed for us all, especially first thing in the morning. Enter granola.
Good granola is a tasty mix of humble ingredients barely touched with sweetness. Oats, nuts, seeds, dried fruits- all relatively inexpensive on their own, but for reasons I don’t understand, suddenly become a hot commodity when combined, packaged, and put on your local grocery store shelf. Make your own. You’ll save money, have control over the ingredients, and create something far better than anything you could get from a cardboard box.
This recipe makes a little more than 8 cups and keeps for several weeks in an airtight container. My granola goes into mason jars, but tupperware,and ziploc bags work too. I have it every morning with plain yogurt and whatever fruit is in season. My daughter‘s spin is little fancier; she likes to make yogurt parfaits- layering the granola with fruit and yogurt. Keep it simple and put the granola out in the morning as part of a breakfast bar. Each person can enjoy it the way they like best… with milk… with yogurt… with fruit… or even straight up by the handful as they race out the door to catch the school bus.
PS- A batch of homemade granola makes an excellent gift. Think teachers, new moms, care package for college kids…
Maple Nut Granola
3 cups rolled old-fashioned oats
1 cup unsweetened shredded coconut
1 cup unsalted raw sunflower seeds
1 cup unsalted raw pumpkin seeds
1 cup unsalted nuts… almonds, walnuts- whatever you want
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground ginger
¾ cup maple syrup
⅓ cup coconut oil (comes in a jar- solid form)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
pinch of salt
1 ½ cups total of your favorite dried fruits (raisins, cranberries, dried apricots, dried figs, dried apples, dried cherries)- either a combination of fruits or just one
Position a rack in the middle of the oven. Preheat the oven to 300°. Line a large cookie sheet with parchment paper or foil.
In a large bowl, combine the oats, coconut, sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds and nuts. In a small saucepan melt coconut oil over low heat, add cinnamon, ginger and maple syrup- stirring to combine. Take off the heat and add vanilla and pinch of salt. Pour coconut oil/maple syrup mixture over oat mixture and combine- stirring to be sure everything is evenly coated. Spread onto cookie sheet.
Bake for 30 to 40 minutes, stirring the granola about every 10 minutes- rotating the cookie sheet once or twice so the granola bakes evenly. The granola is ready when it just begins to turn a light golden color.
Remove from the oven, add dried fruits and stir well. Let cool,
stirring once or twice to break up any clumps.
*This recipe is very easy to play around with. Consider adding different dried fruits, wheat germ, flax seeds, etc.