My Favorite Granola

There is a special place in my heart for breakfast.  Think about it–when else can you acceptably eat dessert for an entire meal? Just think of the traditional breakfast foods: cinnamon rolls slathered with a generous amount of cream cheese frosting, buttermilk waffles with maple syrup and whipped cream, lemon-glazed scones, and creamy oatmeal with brown sugar.

Don’t get me wrong; I can’t deny my love for the savory options either: slow scrambled eggs with goat cheese, whole grain toast with mashed avocado, and cold pizza (I am a college student after all).

But one of my favorite items, and I’m sure my dad will agree, is this granola.  Unlike store-bought granola, this one has an intriguing mix of spices, and a barely sweet nature.  You can customize the ingredients according to your taste buds, substituting dried cherries and chocolate for raisins and walnuts.  Sprinkled over plain yogurt with fresh berries, in a bath of cold milk, or over a large scoop (or two!) of vanilla ice cream, this granola is one of my favorite ways to start the morning.

My Favorite Granola:
(Makes about 8 cups)
As mentioned above, feel free to substitute ingredients as you would like.  Another possible combination substitutes pecans for almonds, chocolate for dried fruit, and butter for olive oil–quite decadent!
3 1/3 cup old-fashioned oats
1 1/4 cup shredded coconut (I used sweetened)
1 cup unsalted almonds
1 tsp salt
2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp ground cloves
1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
3/4 tsp ground ginger
zest of an orange
1/2 cup olive oil
1/2 cup maple syrup or honey
1 tbsp pure vanilla extract
1 1/3 cup dried fruit (I typically use a combination of raisins, cranberries, cherries, and blueberries)
 
Preheat the oven to 300 degrees.  Line a large, rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper.
In a large bowl, mix together the oats, coconut, almonds, salt, cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg, ginger, and orange zest.  Pour over the olive oil, maple syrup or honey, and vanilla extract.  Mix well, until all the oats are beginning to form small clumps.
Spread the mixture evenly on the prepared baking sheet.  Bake until golden brown and fragrant, about 40 minutes.  Let cool completely.  Stir in the dried fruit.
Enjoy.