December 2, 2011

Maple Cinnamon Granola

Crunchy, nutty, and positively scrumptious in cold milk. I twisted a recipe for regular granola and incorporated the rich flavors of maple, cinnamon, and vanilla. M was asking me to get granola from the store so he could mix it into his favorite breakfast cereals. I knew I had whole rolled oats, and I also knew that store bought granola's are delicious but also fraught with fat and sugars. It was time to try my hand at a granola I had some control over.

The gently spiced sweetness of the cereal is balanced by its generous use of toasty nuts, including walnuts, peanuts, and sunflower seeds. Each time I've baked up a batch my mind has been exploring the creative possibilities. I plan to bake a batch that incorporates pureed pumpkin and another that involves peanut butter (two of my favorite flavors). It would be easy to do -- simply stir in the different flavors when mixing up the wet ingredients.

This granola is simple to make and the big batch will last you well throughout the week... which is good, because it will easily find its way into more than just your morning cereal bowl. Try it on top ice cream at dessert, or over Greek yogurt for lunch, too.

Maple Cinnamon Granola
2 cups whole rolled oats
1 cup toasted walnuts, coarsely chopped
1/2 cup coconut
1/2 cup unsalted, shelled sunflower seeds
1/4 cup Fiber One original cereal, finely crushed, or wheat germ
1/4 cup roasted peanuts, chopped
1/4 cup honey
1/4 cup real maple syrup
1 t. cinnamon
2 t. pure vanilla extract
Optional: dried fruit such as blueberry, cranberry, and cherry

Grease a 15x10 baking pan. In a large bowl combine the oats, walnuts, coconut, sunflower seeds, Fiber One or wheat germ, and peanuts. In another bowl whisk the honey, maple syrup, cinnamon, and vanilla extract. Stir the wet ingredients into the oat mixture. Pour into the baking pan and spread out evenly. Bake in a 300 degree oven for 30 minutes or until light golden brown, stirring after the first 20 minutes. If desired, stir in dried cherries, blueberries, or cranberries.

Spread on a large piece of foil to cool completely. Store in an airtight container for up to a week or freeze for two months.

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