Pantry Challenge Recipe #3: Easy Granola

I always keep oats around. They're the base for so many delicious things.  Oatmeal cookies with various add-ins (see my Oatmeal Cranberry Cookie recipe) are a special treat.  I also love a standard stick-to-your-ribs oatmeal for breakfast.  I make it special by using milk in the place of water, freshly grated cinnamon and a little sugar.  You could even blend your oatmeal and put it in a mug to drink on the go. Yum!  As an aside, I was appalled to find out the rest of the world made it (and hot chocolate) with water. Try milk if your diet allows.  It will change your feelings about the oatmeal if you weren't jazzed about the stuff before.

While the various oat based concoctions are delicious I especially love assembling a batch of granola.  Granola is a versatile treat.  I love it over Greek yogurt with just about any fruit and a drizzle of honey or maple syrup.  It's also tasty sprinkled over ice cream with some berries.  You've got to love a food that can be served any time of day!

Consider the possibilities when you create your own signature granola and you aren't saddled with the grocery store selections or prices! Add dried fruit, nuts and any assortment of sweeteners. You control the ingredient list! Give it a shot and don't be afraid to mix and match.

I'll mark the ingredients from my pantry with an *. Again, I didn't have to make a run to the grocery store for anything. The rest of the ingredients came from my stock.

Prep Time: 10
Cook Time: 1 hour and 25 minutes
Servings: 6 (if you're eating a bowlful of cereal... many more if you're just sprinkling it atop a dish)

3 cups rolled oats*
1 1/2 cups chopped pecans
3/4 cup shredded sweet coconut
1/3 cup dark brown sugar*
1/3 cup maple syrup*
1/4 cup vegetable oil*
3/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup raisins*

1. Preheat oven to 250º.
2. In a large bowl, combine the oats, nuts, coconut, and brown sugar.
3. In a separate bowl, combine maple syrup, oil, and salt. Combine both mixtures and pour onto 2 sheet pans. Cook for 1 hour and 15 minutes, stirring every 15 minutes to achieve even coloration.
4. Remove from oven and transfer into a large bowl. Add raisins and mix until evenly distributed.

Note: When you see raisins in a recipe think of it as a license to substitute with anything sweet and raisin-sized. You could use cranberries, craisins, dried cherries, dehydrated fruit (apricot, strawberry, and apple are my favorite). Same goes with nuts.  Each of them has a distinct flavor!  This recipe would be great with heart healthy almonds or walnuts too.

Note: Store granola in an airtight container for up to 1 month.  It's best right away, but it keeps for quite some time.


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