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Dorothy Dean presents: Family favorite granola is a healthy and customizable snack

By Audrey Alfaro For The Spokesman-Review

Granola is one of the most versatile snacks. From its endless options of ingredients to how it’s served, it’s a healthy and customizable snack that’s downright addicting.

The crunchy clusters of lightly sweetened oats and nuts and hint of cinnamon, maple syrup, brown sugar and vanilla flavors make this a household favorite.

My husband eats it by the handful, and my daughter loves it with milk as cereal. I enjoy it with Greek yogurt and fresh berries.

This simple recipe starts with combining all the dry ingredients: rolled oats, almonds, pecans, banana chips, coconut and dark brown sugar.

The wet ingredients and seasonings (maple syrup, oil, vanilla extract, cinnamon and salt) are combined and then stirred into the oat mixture.

The granola is divided between two baking sheets and baked for a little more than 1 hour until toasted and golden.

It crisps up as it completely cools on the baking sheet, which also creates a good balance of clusters and loose bits of granola.

If you prefer a loose cereal consistency, just stir the granola every 20 minutes during the baking process. With this as a base recipe, you can easily make it your own.

Try it with pepitas, cashews, walnuts, sunflower seeds or macadamia nuts. The maple syrup can be replaced with honey or agave.

Chocolate chips, cacao nibs or dried fruits like cranberries, blueberries, apricots, raisins, apples or mango can be mixed in once the granola has completely cooled.

And seasonings like ginger, nutmeg, cardamom or pumpkin pie spice also can be used in this recipe.

Granola

Adapted from foodnetwork.com.

3 cups rolled oats

1 cup sliced almonds

1 cup chopped pecans

1/2 cup banana chips, coarsely chopped

1 cup sweet coconut, shredded or chips

1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons dark brown sugar

1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons maple syrup

1/4 cup coconut or canola oil

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

1 teaspoon cinnamon

3/4 teaspoon salt

Preheat oven to 250 degrees. Line two sheet pans with parchment paper or silicone baking mats.

In a large bowl, combine the oats, nuts, banana chips, coconut and brown sugar.

In a separate bowl, combine maple syrup, oil, vanilla, cinnamon and salt, then pour over oat mixture.

Stir until thoroughly combined and divide mixture between the two sheet pans and spread out evenly.

Cook for 1 hour and 15 minutes, rotating pans every 20 minutes to ensure even cooking.

Remove from oven and let completely cool on baking sheets. Store in airtight container.

Audrey Alfaro can be reached at spoonandswallow@yahoo.com.

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