During my dad’s time away, my mom was afraid that he would go hungry while trying to feed himself (something he had not done in 15 years!). Before dad left, she baked him trays upon trays of casseroles and meals to tide him over until he could come back home for a visit. One of the treats she made for him was Uncle Greg’s Granola, and it stands out in my memory as something completely foreign – and delicious! – that I did not remember ever eating before.
My mom wasn’t a granola eater and therefore we kids were not exposed to it much as kids. This was probably for the better as most granola is either full of butter (tasty, but not really a healthy treat!) or nuts (and we all know how I feel about nuts!). I hadn’t really thought of granola again until I was shopping with my friend LeAnn at our local health food store. LeAnn told me that her kids mow through the homemade granola mix she makes. Homemade granola? Why had I not thought of this?
Homemade granola is not just for breakfast. In fact, it’s the ideal snack since it needs no refrigeration or heating and it’s a perfect balance of salty and sweet. I pack granola on trips and include it as part of care packages for friends who need a little extra love. If I think about it, I stash some in my purse in case I am stuck somewhere with nothing to eat and a tummy that insists I feed it immediately. What is there not to like about this granola?
recipe adapted from www.foodnetwork.com
3 cups old fashioned rolled oats
3/4 cup sweetened flaked coconut
1 cup sliced almonds
1 cup cashews (optional… I think these are icky!)
3/8 cup (6 tbsp) maple syrup
3/8 cup (6 tbsp) honey
1/4 cup vegetable oil
1/2-3/4 tsp salt, to taste
1 cup (or more!) chocolate chips
1 cup chopped mixed dried fruits (I love apricots, craisins, and even prunes!)
Preheat the oven to 250F.
Combine the oats, coconut, and nuts in a large bowl. Add syrup, honey, oil, and salt and mix well. Divide the mixture among two rimmed baking trays. Cook for 1 hour 15 minutes. Every 15 minutes, stir the mixture in each pan and swap the position of the pans. The granola is done when the mixture is golden. Let cool completely (it will get crispy – I promise!) and then add the chocolate chips and fruit and store in an airtight container. Grab a spoon, shovel it into your mouth, and smile. Oh, wait. And go back one more time and grab another spoonful. Or two. Okay, so just grab the bowl and carry it with you.