Every winter I make lots of this granola. The smell of baking granola makes my home feel warm and toasty, and eating fresh, homemade granola makes me feel so much more healthy than eating any store bought brand! I eat it for breakfast, snacks, or even dessert, either combined with plain yogurt or milk, or extra fresh fruit. I've even been known to warm the milk and cereal up for an in-between version of cereal and oatmeal.
This granola is flavorful, slightly sweet, and very nutty. While I've indicated that the orange zest is optional, the combination of vanilla, orange, honey, and cinnamon flavors really makes this granola special.
I've given this granola out as gifts for the holidays, packaged in small brown paper bags, and it's always been well received. I think it would also be a great host gift for a weekend stay with friends.
Winter Warmth Granola
- 1 cup each of pecans, almonds, and sunflower seeds
- 2 1/2 cups rolled oats (make sure they are not quick oats)
- 1/3 cup maple syrup
- 1/4 cup honey
- 2Tbsp vegetable oil
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 2 tsp cinnamon
- zest of 1 orange, optional
- 2 cups dried blueberries
Preheat oven to 350degrees. Combine nuts, seeds, and oats in a large bowl. In a separate smaller bowl, combine maple syrup, honey, oil, vanilla extract, cinnamon and orange zest, and microwave for 1 minute, or just long enough to melt the honey. Stir to combine.
Pour warm syrup mixture over the dry ingredients and combine, coating the oats, nuts, and seeds. Gently transfer to a metal, shallow-rimmed baking pan, and distribute evenly. Bake granola mixture for 20 minutes, undisturbed. With a wooden spoon or spatula, gently turn over the granola mixture so that it cooks evenly. Return to the oven and bake for another 20 minutes, or just until the nuts and oats take on a deep golden, toasted color.
While granola is toasting, cut open a brown paper grocery bag, lying it out on a flat surface. You will cool the granola on this once you remove it from the oven.
After granola is golden and toasted, remove the pan from the oven and gently pour the granola out on to the paper bag. The nuts and oats will feel soft, but don't worry. As soon as they cool, they will become very crunchy. With the granola still warm, add the dried blueberries to the mixture and toss granola and blueberries to combine. Be careful, as the granola will still be hot!
Let granola cool completely before storing in an airtight container. The granola should stay fresh for at least 2 weeks.