If you’re looking for a last-minute sweet treat to give as a gift (or save for yourself), try mixing up a batch of granola to package in bags or jars. Adding dried cherries or cranberries and chunks of white chocolate makes it a little fancier, but you could customize this basic recipe with any type of nuts, seeds, and dried fruit you like. If you’re not a fan of white chocolate, dry adding dark chocolate instead. Or leave it out altogether.
Use melted butter instead of oil for particularly decadent granola, or add some flax oil to boost omega 3s. The nuts and seeds (I like using fresh walnut halves, which should be sweet, not bitter – if they’re bitter, they’re likely old) deliver heart-healthy fats, fiber and protein.
White Chocolate & Cherry Granola
4-5 cups old-fashioned (large flake) oats
1 cup sliced or slivered almonds, pecans, walnuts, hazelnuts or a combination
1/2 cup shredded coconut
1/4 tsp. salt
1/4 cup canola oil
1/2 cup honey or maple syrup
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
1 tsp. vanilla or coconut extract
1/2-1 cup dried cherries or cranberries (or raisins, slivered apricots or other dried fruit)
1/2-1 cup white chocolate chunks or chips
Preheat the oven to 325˚F. Line a large rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper or a Silpat baking mat.
In a large bowl, mix the oats, nuts, coconut, cinnamon and salt. In a small bowl, stir together the oil, brown sugar, honey or maple syrup and vanilla. Pour over the oat mixture and stir until well coated.
Spread out onto one or two baking sheets, making clumps by squeezing some of it together if you like. Bake for 20-30 minutes, stirring two or three times, until golden. Remove from the oven and cool completely before stirring in the dried cherries or cranberries and white chocolate. Package in jars or sealed bags.