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March 06, 2013

Hippie Chick

The Best Granola
Back in the 70s when I was growing up, granola was hippie food. The sort of breakfast cereal that people who wore torn jeans and braids in their hair ate. It wasn't the bacon and eggs that my grandparents served and it certainly wasn't the Lucky Charms™ that I loved, even if it was only to pick out the marshmallow four-leaf clovers. Nope; granola wasn't something that graced our breakfast table.

In high school, my best friend's mom didn't quite fit into my mom frame of reference. She went to yoga classes, meditated, made her own wheat bread and sprinkled nutritional yeast on salads. She also made homemade granola. But, she was pretty cool, so one night when I spent the night, I wound up trying it for breakfast the next morning and aside from the chewiness of the dried fruit, I found myself liking it well enough to talk my mother into buying a box. Naturally, the boxed granola was no where near as tasty as the homemade kind, so the box wound up getting shoved to the back of the cabinet. Right behind the Lucky Charms™.

Of course, I ate granola off and on over the years, but mostly, I didn't think much about it one way or the other. Then, by chance, I decided to make a batch and well, the stuff I make never gets shoved to the back of the cabinet. In fact, I'm lucky if it lasts half the week.

The great thing about granola is that you can customize it any way you like, so if you don't like apricots or almonds, substitute what you like instead.

House Granola

3 cups quick oats
3/4 cup shelled pistachios
3/4 cup toasted pecan pieces
1/2 cup slivered almonds
1 cup coconut flakes
1/2 cup chopped dried figs
1/2 cup chopped dried apricots
1/2 cup dried cherries
1/2 cup golden raisins
1/2 cup maple syrup or honey
1/2 cup olive oil
2 tablespoons brown sugar
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1 teaspoon nutmeg
1 teaspoon salt

*2 egg whites, beaten until frothy

1. Mix together oats, nuts, coconut, dried fruit, spices and salt.
2. In a separate bowl, mix together maple syrup or honey and olive oil; stir in vanilla.
3. Pour mixture over oat mixture; stir to combine.
4. If you want cluster granola, mix in the beaten egg whites, otherwise skip this step.
5. Spray a sheet pan with nonstick spray and spread the granola mixture over the pan evenly; press down mixture.
6. Bake at 300º for 45 minutes to 1 hour, stirring every 10 minutes, until granola and golden and toasty.
7. Turn off oven and let granola cool in the oven for 2-3 hours.
8. Transfer to an airtight container.

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