My husband and I love granola but even most of the ‘organic’ and ‘natural’ varieties still have more ingredients than I would like.  Not to mention they are always sold in boxes the size of toy kitchen food that then need to be recycled and the granola itself is in a plastic bag that can’t be recycled.  So, when my friend Margo sent me a text saying she had ‘finally mastered granola’, I couldn’t wait to try the recipe.  We’ve been eating it all week so I would say it’s a hit.  My rebel husband likes his with milk (I wish I had time to go into it now…suffice to say I’ve at least converted him to organic milk from grass-fed cows).  I like mine with my favorite yogurt that can be had from a container: siggi’s Icelandic style skyr (http://www.skyr.com/), and I’m sure my middle brother will take the time to make this and then promptly add it to his Publix fat-free yogurt du jour.

For the oats, I have found it’s most economical to do the organic bulk oats from Whole Foods, but get yours wherever you like.  Just make certain you aren’t getting the ‘quick oats’ variety or steel cut oats.  This recipe calls for 5 cups and I take about 1/3 of that and grind it in the food processor for just a couple seconds so that the granola will be a little lumpier and have more clusters (although, Margo said getting those clusters like the store-bought kind has is something that continues to elude her, so, if either one of us figures it out, I’ll be sure to update you).  Don’t knock yourself out to have truly raw almonds for this recipe because you are baking it anyway, so it sort of defeats the purpose.  If you are new to brown rice syrup, I think you will really like using it.  I also use it for making sushi rice.  I get raw, flaked, unsweetened coconut and coconut oil from the same place I order my hemp seed (http://nutiva.com/), but I know that Whole Foods carries a nice organic flaked coconut and, again, because you are baking this, don’t be too concerned if it’s not ‘raw’.  Whole Foods also carries several varieties of coconut oil.  Just get the best you can find at your favorite grocery store.  If you ultimately find that you enjoy incorporating more coconut products into your diet, then definitely take a look at Nutiva. Their raw organic coconut flakes are a great treat to eat by themselves and are a wonderful addition to any store-bought granola!

Here is Margo’s recipe with my ‘tweaks’:

5 cups organic oats

1 cup organic almonds (more if you like)

3/4 cup organic, flaked, unsweetened coconut (plus another 1/2 cup for adding after the granola has been baked)

1 tsp. cinnamon

1/3 cup coconut oil, heated only enough to bring from a solid to liquid

1/3 cup organic brown rice syrup

1/4 cup honey

1 tsp. vanilla

3/4 cup organic raisins

Preheat oven to 325 degrees

Combine the dry ingredients (oats, almonds, 3/4 cup coconut, cinnamon) in a large mixing bowl

Combine the wet ingredients (coconut oil, brown rice syrup, honey, vanilla) and add to the wet ingredients, mixing thoroughly

Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper and spread the granola mixture evenly

Bake for about 25-30 minutes, checking every 10 minutes to stir and to check for doneness (you don’t want it to get to ‘browned’)

Once the mixture is cool, add your raisins and 1/2 cup coconut (or whatever dried fruits you like; I plan to try this with freeze-dried berries and walnuts instead of the raisins, coconut and almonds)

Store in a large glass container with a lid and enjoy.  Thank you Margo.