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Where EAST meets the Northwest

From The Asian Reporter, V34, #01 (January 1, 2024), page 13.

Mixing up homemade granola is simple

By Katie Workman

The Associated Press

Need a gift for a friend or family member? A homemade gift with a little personal touch might be a good choice. For me, granola fits the bill. Not only is it good to eat, it can be shared.

A beautiful jar of crunchy, chewy, slightly sweet granola for quick breakfasts, tossing onto little bowls of yogurt or skyr, or (if you are my older son) grabbing by the handful every time you pass through the kitchen, is perfect.

Granola is so customizable that once you start playing around with it, making it can become almost as addictive as eating it. Change up the dried fruits, use all maple syrup or all honey, add a bit of crystallized ginger or a pinch of ground cloves.

Because nut allergies are so prevalent (I speak from personal experience), keeping your granola nut-free will make it a gift that almost everyone can enjoy.

Many store-bought granolas have a lot of added fat and sugar. This recipe has a much more manageable amount of oil and sweeteners. Note this granola is vegetarian but not vegan, thanks to the honey and egg whites. The egg whites help create nice little clumps of granola without necessitating the addition of more fat or sugar.

This is also a great recipe for getting the kids involved. They can measure, mix, and spread everything out on the baking sheet. With supervision around the hot baking sheet, older kids can gently stir the granola during baking.

Baking tips

Because the dried fruit will burn if baked too long, add it to the oat mix only during the second part of bake time. Baking it lets it becomes chewy and incorporated into the mix.

If you want your granola crunchier, bake the oat part a bit longer before stirring in the fruit.

If youíre certain nut allergies arenít an issue, add a handful or two of chopped nuts when you add the dried fruit midway through baking.

This granola keeps for three weeks in a cool place, well sealed (though I have never once had it last that long).

Presentation

I like to package up this granola in clear glass Mason jars with attached lids, ribbons, and labels. You can also find jars that have spoons attached.

Think about adding some suggestions on a little card attached to the jar for how the recipients can use the granola. Recommend using it as a topping for everything from ice cream to yogurt, a complement to oatmeal, a dip for a banana, or blended into a crumble on a fruit crisp.

You can double or triple the recipe easily ó and I always do, because I donít want to give it all away!

Katie Workman writes regularly about food for The Associated Press. She has written two cookbooks focused on family-friendly cooking, Dinner Solved! and The Mom 100 Cookbook.

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Granola Recipe

1/4 cup honey

1/4 cup pure maple syrup

2 large egg whites

1/3 cup vegetable oil, plus oil for

the baking sheet (optional)

1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1 teaspoon kosher salt

Ĺ teaspoon grated orange zest, optional

4 cups old-fashioned oats, not quick-cooking

2 cups mixed chopped dried fruit such as apricots or prunes,
and/or dried cherries, blueberries, cranberries, and raisins

Nonstick cooking spray (optional)

Preheat the oven to 275į Fahrenheit.

Place the honey, maple syrup, egg whites, oil, vanilla, cinnamon, salt, and orange zest, if using, in a large bowl and mix until well blended. Set 1/2 cup of the honey mixture aside in a medium-size bowl. Add the oats to the large bowl and mix with a spoon or your hands until everything is well combined and coated.

Add the dried fruit to the reserved 1/2 cup of the honey mixture and stir to combine. Set the dried fruit mixture aside.

Spray a rimmed baking sheet with nonstick cooking spray, or coat it lightly with oil, or line it with parchment paper. Spread the oat mixture out on the prepared baking sheet in a thin, even layer. Bake the oat mixture for 30 minutes (see baking tips above).

Add the dried fruit mixture to the oat mixture and stir well with a spoon or spatula to combine. Spread the granola out again in an even layer. Bake it until the oats are golden brown and crunchy, 25 to 30 minutes, stirring it once more halfway through the baking time, but leave some clumps! Let the granola cool on the baking sheet on a wire rack.

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