Vanilla Maple Granola

When I first met my husband 6 years ago (goodness that's a long time!), he was a root beer drinking, white pasta and Tyson frozen chicken eating grad student. Though he usually denies such allegations ("I never drank soda! I just had it in the fridge that one time your came over."), his diet left much to be desired. In fact, he never really thought about food until we met. He ate when he was hungry and that was about it, where as I'm one who thinks about lunch while chomping breakfast. His parents weren't food-oriented (It's OK if I call them out, they don't read this anyway) so the delicious sense-engaging nature of food was not at the top of my dear husband's priority list. I am being a little hard on him though. While a student he had a crazy schedule with very little time to shower, let alone eat well. And yet, it's when we run around like chickens with our heads cut off that we NEED good food to fuel our overworked bodies. There were times I brought him dinner during certain all nighters, but for the most part I let him fend for himself. What a lovely girlfriend I was. I can't believe he married me! It's OK, I make up for it now. Every morning he rolled out of bed to a bowl of dry sugared cereal with milk or a frosting-shellacked danish on the way to class. Let's shoot our blood sugar through the roof before 9 am, shall we! I tried my hardest to explain the poor quality of his morning meals but to no avail. If there is one thing I know about my man, its that he will not tolerate being told what to do. Even if I'm right!

So what I've learned is if I can't go through him, I will go around him. My way of getting around the breakfast debacle was to simply give him a better yet similar option. "Have you ever tried granola?", I asked one morning. "Yeah, it's OK," he replied, not really listening to me. "What if I got you some to try instead of your regular cereal?", I queried. "Sure, I'm open." I'm open??? Sweet! Not one to look a gift horse in the mouth, I ran off to Whole Foods to get what I thought was a healthy breakfast alternative. Man, was I wrong! Most of the granola available had almost as much sugar as regular cereal complete with bizarre freeze dried strawberries and other "fruits". I was able to find one that fit my requirements but for the most part the selection left much to be desired. After a few months (yes months!) of eating barely Jamie-legal granola I said, "You know, the granola you get is kind of expensive and loaded with sugar. What if I make you some instead?", I offered. "Sure, I'm into it."

And so it was on that very day that Gray became a homemade granola man. He liked the first batch so much he's been making it himself every few weeks for the last 3 years. It's the only thing he makes, but he makes it good! I certainly feel proud of my little triumph over the sugared breakfast cereal. Now I just need to work on the copious beer consumption. Though I fear that's a lost cause!

Vanilla Maple Granola

2 cups organic whole rolled oats 1 cup sunflower seeds 1 cup raw nuts, chopped (almonds, walnuts, pecans, cashews) 1/2 teaspoon sea salt 1/4 cup shredded coconut (optional) 1/3 cup organic maple syrup (you can us a little extra if you like things particularly sweet) 1/3 cup extra virgin coconut oil or organic butter, melted 1 tablespoon real vanilla extract (no corn syrup or coloring added)

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Combine oats, seeds, nuts, salt and coconut in a large bowl. Whisk together the maple syrup, oil/butter, and vanilla and pour over the dry ingredients. Spread out in a large Pyrex baking dish. Make sure the granola is not piled on too high. Use two smaller Pyrex dishes if necessary.

Bake for 25-30 minutes or until golden, stirring twice during baking. Remove from the oven and let it cool. Store in a large cereal container and enjoy! This granola also make a fantastic gift.

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