You know how some foods have the ability to take you to a special, happy place? For me, there is nothing quite like the taste and smell of homemade granola. It makes me want to dance in delight.
The combination of nourishing oats, nuts and seeds with the indulgence of the softly sweet syrupy coating, sends me into a euphoric whirl. Each bite is exciting, as you invite a variety of luscious flavours into your mouth and they dance and spin and pop together, having their own little party, with you as the guest of honour. The sweetly tart and chewy cranberries, mixed with the mild crunch of the buttery pecans, rounded out with the wholesome flavour of the oats, sunflower seeds and pepitas…all the while being chaperoned by the gorgeously rich maple flavour along with undertones of vanilla. Only thinking about it and again, I'm spinning in delight.
Nothing makes me feel more like a domestic goddess than whipping up a batch of granola. It is one of my favourite ways to relax and have fun in the kitchen.
The process is simple enough that I can pop on some music, and be sure that I wont get distracted whilst dancing around the kitchen and end up with burnt oats. It also has room for creative freedom. Once you get the hang of the recipe, you can really have fun with making different types of granola.
If I'm craving the tropical flavour of coconut, I may add a cup of shredded coconut. If Ben has his way, then it will be full of dried apricots and heavy on the maple flavour. The next time I make granola, I plan on making it a little indulgent by adding some good quality dark chocolate drops.
That is the beauty of making your own granola rather than buying it in a store. It can reflect your tastes and mood.
I adore eating this warm, fresh out of the oven when the fragrance is out of this world - heavenly, wholesome and sweet. Be warned, more euphoric twirling is guaranteed….
Maple Granola with Vanilla and Pecans
Note: you can play around with the ingredients, opting for different nuts and dried fruit. You can also add in some bran flakes or other cereal grains in place of some oats. Tailor it to your preferences. In terms of the sweetener, you can swap the maple syrup for brown rice syrup (which I often use) or honey. Note that when using maple syrup, go for the real stuff. The maple 'flavoured' syrup just lacks the depth of flavour. Yes it is cheaper, but it tastes like sticky sweet water, and won't have the same effect.
4 cups rolled oats
½ cup pepitas (I often add ¾ cups as I love pepitas)
½ cup sunflower seeds
1 cup pecan pieces (if you buy whole or half pecans, break them up a into smaller pieces)
½ cup almond flakes (can use almond slithers too, for more of a crunch)
1 cup cranberries
10 dried apricots (cut into quarters or eighths, depending on how thick you like the pieces)
½ teaspoon salt
¾ cup real maple syrup
2 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon vanilla extract (this is quite a lot of vanilla, you can use less if you don't want such a strong vanilla flavour)
1. Pre-heat the oven to 180 Degrees Celsius. Combine the oats, pepitas, sunflower seeds, pecans, almonds and salt in a large bowl. In a separate, smaller bowl, combine the maple syrup, canola oil and vanilla. Gently whisk the liquids together, just until they combine. Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients, and fold until the dry ingredients are evenly coated in the syrup.
2. Line a large (or two small) rimmed baking dish with foil. Pour the oats onto the tray/dish and spread it out evenly. Put it into the oven and bake for 25-30 minutes, stirring occasionally. Remove from the oven and let cool.
3. Add in the dried fruit. Stir to combine. Store in an airtight container.
Personally, I like to serve my granola over vanilla yoghurt (with an extra sprinkle of chia seeds and/or linseeds), have it with milk and fruit, or sprinkle it over porridge. I also use it to make apple muesli muffins.
Whichever way you like to eat it, be sure to gobble some granola goodness. I hope it makes you twirl in delight and takes you to a special, happy place too.