Like a lot of food, granola is one of those things I have a hard time buying store-bought. Sure, it's convenient and saves a little time, but I like having control of what goes into my food, or rather, what doesn't. I'm not much for preservatives or weird and hard to pronounce fillers, ya feel? And I don't always mind that making things from scratch isn't "fast". I try to set aside one day a week when I spend a couple hours in the kitchen meal prepping for the week, usually Sunday afternoon. The way I see it, time I invest in the things that go into my body is time well spent. And most of the time being in the kitchen is therapeutic for me. It's calming. Like somehow, standing at the cutting board, wielding a knife, something bubbling on the stove, listening to Iron & Wine, feels most like me. So, if you've got half an hour to spare and you love breakfast, make this granola from scratch. I'm willing to bet that if you do, you probably won't want to eat store-bought anymore, either.
This recipe is easily customizable, as well. Often I'll mix up what kind of nuts I use, depending on what I have on hand. Hazelnuts, pecans, and pistachios are all delicious. I also like to swap out the cinnamon for other spices and even herbs, occasionally. Cardamom, ginger, and fresh chopped rosemary are all great additions. Feel free to experiment.
So why is this the "perfect" granola? Well, I won't go so far as to say it's THE perfect granola, but it's certainly mine. It's got all the criteria I look for in a granola: salty, sweet, crunchy, nutty, and full of nutrition. That's my idea of "perfect", anyway. The maple syrup adds sweetness but is a lower-glycemic sweetener, as apposed to sugar, brown sugar, or even honey so it won't spike your blood sugar, plus it's just delicious and full of flavor. I like to use Grade B maple syrup because it has more flavor and it's usually a little cheaper than Grade A. You've probably heard of all the amazing things you can do with coconut oil by now and how good is it for you, especially in place of processed vegetable oils which you often find in granola recipes, so I won't bore you but I will say, I absolutely LOVE coconut oil and cook with it a lot. The molasses is what gives it the sticky texture that helps it clump and also adds an almost caramelized flavor. Yum. And if you're not sure what blackstrap molasses is, not to worry. Neither did I until recently. It's the purest most nutritious form of molasses and it's packed full of beneficial minerals like iron, magnesium, and copper, which is really good for your hair. A granola that's delicious and makes your hair look awesome?? I'm in.
2 1/4 c old fashioned rolled oats
1 c shredded coconut, unsweetened
1 c toasted walnuts, roughly chopped
1 c toasted whole almonds, roughly chopped
1 t cinnamon
1/2 t pink himalayan sea salt
1/4 c coconut oil, melted
1/2 c pure maple syrup
2 T blackstrap (unsulphured) molasses
1 t vanilla extract
1 t vanilla bean paste or 1 whole vanilla bean, scraped
Preheat the oven to 300 degrees. In a large bowl combine the oats, nuts, coconut, cinnamon, and salt.
In a another bowl or measuring cup, combine the coconut oil, maple syrup, molasses, vanilla extract, and vanilla paste/ vanilla bean. Whisk wet mixture together until fully combined. Pour the wet mixture over the oat mixture and stir to combine until everything is well coated.
Pour the mixture onto a parchment or silpat-lined baking sheet. Spread in a single layer but leave the mixture a little chunky so that clumps form. Pop in the oven for 15 minutes and then flip the mixture once. Try to avoid stirring since this will disturb the clumps we're trying to make. Put it back in the oven for another 15 minutes or so. You're looking for the granola to be a nice golden brown and the oats to have a toasty/crisp texture but keep an eye on it as this stuff likes to burn! Trust me, I've gotten a little too ambitious on more than one occasion and jumped into other projects around the house until I smell it burning and realize I've done it again. Bummer.
Let it cool then transfer to a jar or airtight container for about a week. I love to eat mine with some kind of fresh fruit (whatever's in season) and unsweetened whole milk yogurt. I find this granola is plenty sweet on it's own but feel free to add a drizzle of honey to your yogurt if it strikes your fancy.