Ever since reading and reviewing Lisa Leake's 100 Days of Real Food last year, I've been making granola. It's primarily oats, and oats are a minimally processed food so they fit the "real food" bill. Instead of brown sugar, I've switched to unrefined sugar in the form of honey or maple syrup. We're a nut- and seed-free family due to food allergies, but I think some pumpkin seeds or sliced almonds would be divine (just swap out a cup of rolled oats for a cup of whatever you choose).
Real Food Granola
makes approximately 8 cups
1/4 cup butter (or 2 tablespoons butter + 2 tablespoons coconut oil)
1/2 cup honey or maple syrup
1 1/2 cups water
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
4 cups rolled oats (or one 1-lb package)
2 cups quick oats (I always have these on hand through Subscribe & Save)
1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt (I like the Trader Joe's canister, because salt is the only ingredient - no anti-clumping agents)
1 cup responsibly sourced mini chocolate chips (I get mine at Whole Foods)
1 cup chopped dried cranberries or other fruit of your choice
1 cup roasted dried coconut chips, optional
1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper, with an inch or two of overhang on the sides.
2. In a large mixing bowl, combine rolled oats, quick oats, and salt. In a 2-cup microwave-safe measuring cup, combine the butter and honey or maple syrup. Microwave on medium-high for one minute, or until the butter is melted. Add water until you have 2 cups of liquid. Stir in the vanilla and mix until all liquids are thoroughly combined. Pour the liquid mixture over the oat mixture and stir until the oats are thoroughly covered and have absorbed all of the liquid.
3. Pour the oat mixture onto the prepared baking sheet, and spread the mixture into an even layer. Bake for approximately two hours, stirring every half hour, until all oats are golden brown. (Burnt granola is bitter and awful, so if you're not completely confident in your monitoring ability, reduce the heat to 275 and bake for three to four hours. If you forget to stir the granola every half hour, it shouldn't burn as long as you don't leave it too long!)
4. Once all of the oats are a beautiful golden brown, remove the baking sheet from the oven and let the oats cool completely. Transfer the cooled oats to a large mixing bowl (you should be able to pull the sides of the parchment paper together to lift the oats and slide them into the bowl). Add the chocolate chips, dried fruit, and dried coconut if using. Stir to thoroughly distribute the mix-ins. (Depending on how large your pan is, you may be able to do your mixing right on the parchment, and save yourself from having to wash another bowl.) Store the granola in an airtight container. Serve with yogurt for a delicious and easy breakfast!