No Frills Cooking: Comforting Granola

My earliest memory of granola is sweet — literally and metaphorically. It was store-bought granola in a cereal box that my mom would always have out on the kitchen table on the weekends. Nothing could compete with the taste of stale raisins and the victorious feeling of finding a golden granola cluster within a sea of crumbled oats, and then, following my mom’s lead, I would sprinkle extra “exotic” nuts like pecans or walnuts in my bowl.

The store-bought granola never looked as good as it did on the box, but it was special to our family.

However, I’ve learned a couple things over the years: Store-bought granola is expensive, it’s too sugary, and no matter what anyone has told you, there’s no worse feeling in the world than eating half of a granola bar and putting it into your bag, only to find it a crumbly mess two hours later. It’s OK — we’ve all been there. Some of us multiple times.

This recipe is easy, quick and relies on ingredients that you most likely have on hand. Keep in an airtight container and enjoy on yogurt, as cereal, or, if you’re me, by the handful as you watch the drama unfold on “The Bachelor!”

Comforting Granola

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2 cups old fashioned oats

1 teaspoon of vanilla

3 tablespoons canola oil (this helps the granola cluster together)

1/4 cup honey

1 cup of chopped nuts — I like to use pecans and slivered almonds. Walnuts are good, too.

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Spices — cinnamon, pumpkin pie spice, nutmeg, cloves are all good options. If my kitchen doesn’t smell like a fall-scented candle, it’s not granola.

Optional: chocolate chips and dried fruit such as raisins or cranberries

Heat oven to 325 degrees. In a large bowl, mix together all of the above ingredients, except for the chocolate chips and dried fruit. Make sure everything is thoroughly coated with the wet ingredients. Spray a baking sheet with cooking spray and pour the granola mixture onto it. Bake for 20–25 minutes, stirring around halfway through. Let it cool for about 10 minutes. Transfer into a large bowl. If using chocolate chips or dried fruit, add them now and mix until evenly distributed.

Yield: Makes 12 servings.

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