Reality Bites: Spiced Maple Granola
Good cereal is a beautiful thing. Cereal in general: meh. But good cereal? That’s the stuff that dreams are made of. Good cereal is a careful and precise mathematical equation of toasted whole grains mixed with hearty nuts and plump dried fruit, all coated in a subtle layer of warm spices and natural sweetness. It delivers a hearty dose of fiber, protein and nutritionally dense carbohydrates to fuel you through the morning (or afternoon, or evening... is there really such thing as a bad time to eat good cereal?)
In my never-ending quest to find a truly delicious and healthy cereal that wasn’t loaded with refined sugars, palm oil or other sketchy ingredients, I did some experimenting of my own and eventually ended up with this bad boy of a recipe -- spiced maple granola. It’s everything that good cereal should be, and absolutely nothing that it shouldn’t. The recipe is simple, quick and versatile, so don’t hesitate to try a couple of different batches, mixing up the types of nuts or dried fruit, sneaking in some super foods for added nutrition, or testing other types of natural sweeteners. Once you figure out your own perfect formula for good cereal, you’ll never look back at that lame box of stale Fruity O’s ever again. So get to it! Endless possibilities await...
6 cups rolled oats
1 cup raw, unsalted pumpkin seeds (or other seeds of choice)
1 cup raw, unsalted almonds, chopped (or other chopped nuts of choice)
¼ cup ground flax seed (optional)
¾ cup pure maple syrup
¼ cup coconut oil
1 tsp vanilla extract
¼ tsp salt
2 tsp cinnamon
½ tsp nutmeg
½ tsp all spice or cloves
2 cups raisins (or other dried fruit of choice)
Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
In a large mixing bowl, combine the rolled oats, seeds, nuts and ground flax (if using).
On the stovetop in a small pot, warm the maple syrup, coconut oil, vanilla, salt and spices over low heat, stirring occasionally, until the oil is melted.
Pour the maple syrup mixture over the oats, nuts and seeds, stirring thoroughly to ensure that everything is evenly coated.
Transfer the granola to a large rimmed baking sheet (maybe two, if necessary) and bake in preheated oven for approximately 30 minutes, stirring at least twice during baking. Granola is ready when the oats look golden brown.
Remove from oven, and stir in the raisins.
Cool before serving, then store in a sealed Ziploc container or bag for up to 1 month. Enjoy!
Super Food Spotlight:
Shelled pumpkin seeds, often lovingly referred to as “pepitas”, are one of few remaining nutritionally-dense “super foods” that have yet to be popularized in the mainstream health scene. But have no fear, their time will come… These little fellas pack a mean punch of plant-based protein and fiber, backed up with a dense concentration of many essential vitamins and minerals, particularly heart-healthy magnesium and immune-supporting zinc. To top it all off, pepitas are also loaded with healthy Omega-3 fats, which can be challenging to get enough of, especially when following a largely plant-based diet.