Saturday, September 29, 2012

Granola Goodness

Something about autumn inspires even the biggest couch potato to take long walks through nature. The cool, crisp air and beautiful fall colors beg us to come out and play. But all that activity can make you hungry, fortunately granola is the perfect take-a-long snack. Homemade granola is an ideal project for a creative person, because the tasty combinations are endless. Okay, enough talk, let's get cooking!

Here's what you'll need to make your own granola:

  • 4 1/2 cups of old-fashioned rolled oats (NOT the instant kind)
  • 1/2 cup raw sunflower seeds (I've used roasted ones when I couldn't find raw ones)
  • 1 1/2 cups coarsely chopped hazelnuts, or almonds
  • 2 Tablespoons of ground cinnamon
  • 1 1/4 cups of maple syrup
  • 1/3 cup vegetable oil
  • 1 cup Ocean Spray Craisins (dried cranberries)
  • 1/2 cup shredded coconut (sweetened or unsweetened)
  • Anything else you might like! (ie. M&M's, snipped dried apricots, white chocolate pieces, etc.)

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees Fahrenheit.

Mix the oats, sunflower seeds, nuts, and cinnamon in a large bowl and stir to combine. 
Add the maple syrup and oil to the dry ingredients, then stir together until all the dry ingredients are moistened.
Spread the granola on a 17x12x1 inch rimmed cookie sheet and bake about 25 minutes.
Remove from the oven and stir with a flat spatula. Continue to bake for another 15 to 20 minutes until the granola is dry, light brown and smells amazing. You may need to stir it again and bake for another 5 minutes or so. You'll know it is dry when it is no longer soft and quiet when you stir it. It becomes hard and noisy when it is dry enough to be crunchy. By all means, scoop some up and taste it (after it cools a little).
*Tip - Watch the granola carefully in the final minutes because it is a fine line between crunchy granola and burned granola!
Let the granola cool. You can put it on a cooling rack, or not. I usually leave it right on top of the stove. Once the granola is cool, stir in the cranberries, and anything else you want to add in like M&M's, white chocolate, toffee pieces etc.
It is best to keep your completely cooled granola in an airtight container and store at room temperature for up to one month, or in the freezer for up to three months. 
Granola is great eaten all by itself, with milk as a cereal, mixed in with yogurt, or on top of ice cream! Enjoy : )

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Many Blessings,

Jana : )