Make the Basics, Part I: Granola

This is the first installment in an occasional series of recipes I will share with you of basic foods I think are worth making yourself. Whether it be because the store-bought version isn’t nearly as tasty or healthful as one I can create or because it’s much more expensive to purchase the prepared version, there are several staple items in my diet that I’ve found are better made at home. Granola is one of these. Now that I’ve come up with a recipe that suits my tastes perfectly, I plan to make my own much more often. It’s simple, takes a half hour and can frequently be made with ingredients you have on hand.

After making many different batches, I’ve settled on this recipe that uses my favorite elements of a few different recipes. It’s plenty sweet to my taste, even though there is no sweetener other than maple syrup. The coconut oil adds a nice flavor, but you could use a different type of oil if you don’t like the taste of coconut or it isn’t readily available. You can also use a different type of sweetener, and, of course, you can substitute various fruits and nuts based on your likes and what you have in your cupboards. Go ahead and experiment. Remember, recipes are merely suggestions!

My Favorite Granola
(with a nod to The New York Times and Super Natural Cooking)

3 cups rolled oats

1/2 cup sunflower seeds

1/2 cup pumpkin seeds

1 cup unsweetened shredded coconut

1 teaspoon kosher salt

1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

3/4 cup dried cranberries (or raisins or other dried fruit)

1 cup pistachios (or almonds or other nuts)

3/4 cup pure maple syrup (or honey or brown rice syrup)

1/4 cup coconut oil

Preheat oven to 300 degrees. In a large bowl, combine the first eight ingredients (oats through nuts). Combine maple syrup and coconut oil in a small saucepan and heat on low, stirring until the oil blends with the syrup. Pour on oat mixture and stir until mixture is evenly coated. Spread evenly on a baking sheet and bake for 30-35 minutes, stirring every 10 minutes, until as toasty as you like. Cool and then store in a pretty glass jar on a kitchen shelf or counter (clearly, this is the most important part of the recipe!).

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