Friday, March 2, 2012

The Best Homemade Granola

I haven't always been the biggest granola fan - it's often too sweet for my taste or less healthy than it appears. This is until I made my own granola, and I have to tell you, it's one of the best things I've ever had and so incredibly easy to make. I've even given it recently as gifts, wrapped up in a mason jar. Homemade granola has a wonderful fresh, crunchy texture (but not too crunchy/hard like some storebought varieties) and I love that I can control what goes in mine. This recipe uses maple syrup (low glycemic) instead of brown sugar, and olive oil instead of canola oil or butter. I love the salty-sweet undertones and the combination of nuts, seeds, and coconut with the oats, but feel free to substitute and play around with whatever ingredients you like best in your granola. I love this granola over yogurt with banana or berries, or on its own with milk (it's a perfect pre-run breakfast). I keep the ingredients on hand in my pantry so that I can whip up a batch anytime. It's also gluten free for those of you who can't have wheat!

Homemade Granola
Makes about 7 cups

Active Time: 5 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour, 5 minutes

3 c. rolled oats (not instant)
1 c. raw hulled pumpkin seeds
1 1/4 c. raw hulled sunflower seeds
1 c. unsweetened coconut flakes (not shredded)
1 c. raw pecans
3/4 c. maple syrup (pure, not imitation)
1/2 c. extra virgin olive oil
Kosher salt
Turbinado sugar (optional)

Preheat oven to 300 degrees Fahrenheit. In a large bowl, combine the oats, pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds, coconut flakes, and pecans, then add the maple syrup, olive oil, and 1 t. kosher salt. Stir to combine, then transfer to a sheet pan and spread out in a relatively even layer. Bake for about 1 hour, stirring each 15 minutes (I remove the pan from the oven to stir it and then put it back in so that the oven doesn't cool down too much), until the granola is a nicely toasted golden brown. Remove from the oven, sprinkle with another pinch of kosher salt, and if you like, 1 T. of turbinado sugar (a coarse brown-colored sugar, which gives it a little extra texture) and stir. Let the mixture cool, then transfer to an airtight container for up to 1 month.

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