Vanilla Granola

I would love to take complete credit for this granola, but I’m afraid I can’t. I mix and match parts of it (i.e. to use walnuts in place of mixed nuts, pancake syrup in place of real maple syrup [only because we never have real maple syrup]) but I found this recipe online somewhere years ago and I’ve been addicted ever since to it. It’s very simple to make. I usually make a double batch (just double every single item) and use 2 cookie sheets so that I can make an extra bunch of it. I usually go through it within one month, more if I don’t cook dinner at night some times and use this for my dinner. 
 
It’s also great to top oatmeal with this granola, or ice cream. Some times you can even use it on top of yogurt, or anything else you may enjoy using this with! The best part of this granola? Is how your house smells during and after you’ve made it!
 
Now since I always end up with needing to use substitutions, I’ll asterisk a lot of the items and tell you what I use to substitute. This is a very flexible recipe! You can even change the vanilla extract (base flavor) to orange, almond, or lemon flavoring. Even maple! 
 
ETA (5-2014): Another recipe at the bottom. This is one that I use all the time.
 
 
 Vanilla Granola
 
 
 Preheat oven to 375*
Ingredients:
          3 1/2 cup oats (old-fashioned)
          1/2 sweetened shredded coconut
          3 Tbsp Sesame Seeds*
          1/4 cup Sunflower/Pumpkin Seeds*
          1/2 cup toasted mixed nuts**, chopped (just slightly, depends on how big you’d like the pieces)
          2 tsp. cinnamon
          1 tsp. sea salt
          1/4 cup light brown sugar***
          1/4 cup oil
          2 Tbsp honey****
          1 Tbsp pure maple syrup*****
          2 tsp. pure vanilla extract (regular imitation is fine)
          2 cup dried fruits bits (cut up to your size you wish) and/or chocolate bits (I usually don’t use either, but if you do wait until after you’ve cooked the granola to mix these)
*I rarely have these on hand, so I choose the sesame seeds to use, but you can omit these both if you don’t have them, or double the amounts. All about your personal preference.
**I usually only have, and like, walnuts, and prefer a little more than this recipe calls for. Sometimes ‘ll even toast them before placing in the granola to cook. Lends different flavors.
***Substitute for the light brown sugar is the same amount in white sugar plus 1 1/2 Tbsp molasses (or in my case, maple pancake syrup)
****Substitute for the honey, I will just use the same amount in corn syrup as well if I absolutely have to
*****Substitute as I never usually have real maple syrup is using maple pancake syrup (my typical on hand is Mrs. Butterworth’s) Still fine!
Directions:
Get a large bowl (really large if you double the recipe). Mix all ingredients in bowl. I’ve found it best to simply follow the recipe from top to bottom and then to mix it up, I get my hands in there and knead it all together. That way it just ensures all the syrups are mixed throughout really well so that there aren’t any areas with more syrup and others not so much.
(Remember: don’t add the chocolate and fruit if you plan on using it until after cooking.)
Line a 13×9 cookie sheet with aluminum foil, and if inclined, spray lightly with oil spray (just helps you remove granola after cooking, but I rarely remember to do it and have had no problems removing the granola because of the oil in recipe prevents it from sticking if you remove it soon enough) and pour granola onto foil. Try to even it out. If you’ve doubled the recipe you’ll just need to do the same to another cookie sheet and divide the granola in half.
 
 
Place in the 375* oven for just about 20 minutes. Since I usually have twice the amount, I will lower one of the oven racks (so they are both nearly in the center) and then simply place both cookie sheets in the oven, switching the one on top with the one on bottom 10 minutes through the cooking for more even cooking of the granola.
 
 
Cool. Add chocolate and fruit if you’ve decided to include it. Place into a airtight jar and use as you wish.
 
 
Enjoy!
 
 
 
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