I am a granola lover. As cliche as it may sound, I started eating it when I was at college up in Vermont. Back then I would eat pretty much any granola put in front of me, but over time, I guess you could say I refined my granola tastes. One thing that drives me bonkers is when granola is too sweet. I find this to be the case with most store bought brands. There are a few places locally I can get granola made in house but typically it is pretty pricey. The solution to my granola conundrum? Make my own, of course! I mix this granola into soy yogurt, I eat it with soy or almond milk, and I even sprinkle it over fruity sorbets for dessert. It is versatile and delicious. There's also no reason you can't get creative with your flavors. Sometimes I stick with a classic recipe with cinnamon, raisins, and dried cranberries. But sometimes I go a little crazy in the bulk foods section at the grocery store and add things like dried pineapple, dried papaya, dried apricots, and ground ginger to make a tropically inspired granola (check out the picture below)!
Basic Crunchy Granola
-5 cups rolled oats
-1 cup sliced almonds
-3/4 cup sunflower seeds
-2 tsp ground cinnamon
-1/3 cup canola or vegetable oil
-1/3 cup real maple syrup (I'm obviously biased, but Vermont syrup is the best)
-2 tbsp agave syrup or honey, depending on your personal leanings
-1 1/2 cups dried fruit of your choice, chopped
-Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
-In a large bowl, mix together the oats, almonds, sunflower seeds, cinnamon, and nutmeg.
-Mix in the oil, maple syrup, and agave syrup or honey. Make sure everything is evenly coated with the liquids.
-Spread the oat mixture out on a foil lined baking sheet and smooth out so you have a nice even layer.
-Bake for 25 minutes. Be sure to thoroughly stir the oat mixture once in the middle of baking to prevent uneven cooking and sticking.
-Remove the granola from the oven and put on a wire rack. Stir in your dried fruit while the granola is still hot.
-While the granola cools for the next 20 minutes or so, give it a stir every few minutes to make sure it doesn't stick. This will also help it cool faster.
-Store the granola in an airtight container. It will keep for about 2 weeks, although it never lasts that long in my house.