One crisp fall morning, a friend and I hiked with our respective dogs. It was a chilly, brisk start but by the time we returned – and typical for Colorado – the temperature had soared and we were so over-heated that instead of the promised breakfast of bacon & eggs, we ate homemade granola topped with juicy Paonia peaches, a few sliced strawberries and a dollop of Greek yoghurt.
My friend pronounced my granola to be “absolutely scrumptious – the best ever!” I was about to share the recipe with her but then I thought, why not share it with everyone?
After tinkering around with a variety of different combinations, I formulated this one below and proclaim it the overall winner; I hope you’ll agree. Play around with the ingredients at will – if pumpkin seeds aren’t available, just add more sunflower seeds or vary the nuts – but the quantities stand.
BTW…. NEVER add dried fruit until after the granola is cooked and cooled, or you’ll spend your hard-earned vacation money at the dentist because slow-baked dried fruit turns into gravel!
More notes at the bottom:
(Total cooking time 90 minutes)
In a large bowl, combine the following:
2 ¾ cups thick rolled organic oats
1/3 cup raw almonds (and/or hazelnuts), roughly chopped
1/3 cup unsweetened coconut flakes
1/3 cup raw pumpkin seeds/pepitas
1/3 cup raw sunflower seeds
1/3 cup raw sesame seeds
(Set aside ½ cup of dried fruit such as raisins, currants, cranberries etc., to be added once the granola is cooked and cooled)
Preheat the oven to 250F.
Combine and gently warm through the following ingredients, stirring well to combine:
1/3 cup runny honey
1/3 cup pure maple syrup
1/3 cup peanut butter – smooth or chunky
2 tablespoons of vegetable oil (I use grape seed or avocado oil for their delicate flavor)
Pour the above warmed mixture into the dry ingredients and give it a good stir to coat everything evenly.
Spread the mixture loosely on a nonstick cookie tray or shallow roasting pan. Because I’m a lazy chef, I line the cookie sheet with tinfoil and discard it afterwards to avoid unnecessary clean-up.
Place the baking tray on a mid to high rack in the preheated. set the timer and after 30 minutes, stir it gently and don’t worry about any clumping. Some clumping is good.
Stick it back in the oven, set the timer for another 30 minutes and repeat.
Back in the oven for the last 30 minutes; remove, stir it around once more and let it cool completely in the pan.
Add the dried fruit once it’s cool and store the granola in an airtight container. If served with fresh fruit and yogurt, this makes enough to last one greedy person for 2-3 weeks.
I know some of these ingredients are expensive so I buy bulk maple syrup, raw almonds, peanut butter, grape seed oil and honey at Costco – and always organic if possible.
Honey fact: did you know that honey has an unlimited shelf-life? So don’t be deterred when faced with purchasing a half gallon container of honey, as it will keep long after you’re gone from this world. Yes, it will have crystallized by then but no matter – gently warming it will return it to its runny state. As a child I remember sneaking spoonfuls of crystallized clover honey from the jars stored in my grandparent’s cellar, at least 5 years after they’d relinquished bee-keeping. Interestingly, when opening a new jar they never once commented on the spoon-shaped, scooped-out middle part.
Cooking at altitude: I live at 7,890 ft above sea level (2,405 meters) so you may need to adjust the cooking time. The oven temp and stirring at 30 min intervals, still stands.