I’ve been exercising a lot this week. This is weird for me because, as I have frequently mentioned, my laziness and distaste for sweat tend to discourage intense physical activity. However, I spent the days following Driggstock with Logan and his parents in Idaho, and they are very big on “activities.” Logan’s parents are possibly the most active people in the world, and they love nothing more than spending their days hiking, biking, running, kayaking, and engaging in any other form of outdoor exercise that you can possibly think of. Needless to say, this is a slight departure from my ideal day of lying motionless in the sun.
Even though Logan and his family don’t expect much from me in terms of athleticism, I like to at least try to participate in their idea of “fun.” Luckily for them, I am also easily tricked into doing things as a result of my naiveté surrounding the aforementioned activities. When asked if I would like to go on a bike ride earlier this week, I happily accepted. In my mind, a bike ride is a casual 45-minute jaunt along a flat road, which I consider totally doable. Unfortunately, Logan’s family’s definition of a bike ride is a two and a half hour trek through fields and forests. Tricky. Although I couldn’t feel my butt cheeks for several hours after said bike ride, I had a surprisingly nice time, and I felt weirdly invigorated afterwards.
In addition to my “mountain biking” adventure, I have also survived several impressive hikes recently. Logan and I are now in Colorado, and he intends to continue this activity hot streak until we leave on Monday. I’m actually okay with this, since I’m starting to think I’m in really good shape. My emerging muscle tone has even distracted me from the rather unfortunate tan lines that I have developed, and I’m 50% sure that I experienced my first exercise-induced endorphin rush earlier this week. If I don’t die from spraying myself with heavy-duty bug spray every five minutes, I’m considering buying myself a pair of real hiking boots. I’m such an outdoorswoman.
Anyhoo, my new athletic lifestyle has increased my appetite rather drastically, and I’ve been thinking a lot about healthy portable snacks that Logan can carry for me in his fanny-pack. (I may have embraced outdoor exercise, but I refuse to sport a fanny-pack. Unforgivable.) I wanted to make something healthy, satisfying, and in keeping with my adopted “crunchy Colorado” persona. Naturally, granola was the first thing that popped into my head, and after some experimentation in the kitchen, Maple Cinnamon Granola was born.
Maple Cinnamon Granola is everything that you want in a granola. Oats, flaxseeds, chia seeds, almonds, and walnuts are tossed with cinnamon, nutmeg, coconut oil and maple syrup and then baked until beautifully golden and crisp. The granola is nutty and cinnamon-y with a light maple glaze and a hint of salt, which strikes the perfect balance of sweet and savory. It has just the right amount of crunch, and plump golden raisins add a nice textural contrast and extra sweetness. If nothing else, Maple Cinnamon Granola is worth making simply based on how unbelievably delicious your house will smell while it’s in the oven. (I felt like I was living in a cloud of snickerdoodles and fresh pancakes for like two hours yesterday.)
The best part about Maple Cinnamon Granola is that it’s bursting with health benefits. First of all, I used coconut oil instead of butter or vegetable oil. If you aren’t familiar with coconut oil, it’s the tits, and it has been proven to boost weight loss, immunity, digestion and metabolism. Its flavor is very subtle, so chances are that you’ll like it even if you’re not a coconut fan. Next, you’ve got flaxseeds and chia seeds, which are tiny superfoods packed with omega-3 fats and fiber. These seeds are praised for their ability to boost energy, lower cholesterol, regulate appetite and improve mood, which is good news for everyone. This granola also has plenty of protein and healthy fat from the almonds and walnuts, and there is no refined sugar. Long story short, eating this granola will make you thinner, happier, and more energetic. Boom.
I am also pleased to inform you that Maple Cinnamon Granola is vegan, gluten-free, and Dude Diet approved! If your reaction to the word “vegan” is similar to Logan’s, which is to fake gag and refuse to eat any “nasty vegan stuff,” please chillax and re-read the above description of how awesome this granola tastes. I didn’t hide any tofu or other “weird shit” in there, I swear. And for the record, Logan stood in the kitchen happily crushing this by the handful yesterday after his bike ride, so I consider Maple Cinnamon Granola to be a great success on many fronts.
This recipe makes about 12 servings, which is good because you’re going to want to eat it all the time, and it can easily be stored in an airtight container for up to three weeks. Obviously, Maple Cinnamon Granola is delicious on its own, but I suggest getting creative with it. Eat it as cereal with some almond milk, or sprinkle it over yogurt with fresh fruit for a tasty and nutritious breakfast. Add it to a salad with some fresh berries and goat cheese, or use it as a healthy topping for frozen yogurt or frozen banana ice cream. Personally, I like to put this granola in the middle of a peanut butter and jelly sandwich for some crunch. Definitely do that.
You’ll probably want to hoard this granola for yourself, but I also highly recommend gifting it to others. Put it in a mason jar, a fancy burlap bag, or plain old plastic, write a nice note, and give it as a thank you/host/housewarming present. I usually bring flowers or wine to people’s houses, but realistically, granola is a much more thoughtful and responsible choice. Pollen allergies are common, and apparently, some people don’t drink. My rather domestic friend, Meg Starr, has been showing up places with homemade granola for years, and I’m pretty sure that’s why people like her so much. So basically, in addition to all the perks I mentioned before, making this granola will increase your popularity. Maple Cinnamon Granola for the win.
Maple Cinnamon Granola: (Serves 12)
Preparing your Maple Cinnamon Granola:
*Pre-heat the oven to 325 degrees.
-In a large bowl, combine the rolled oats, chia seeds, flax seeds, almonds, walnuts, salt, cinnamon and nutmeg.
-In a small bowl, combine the maple syrup and coconut oil. If your coconut oil is in solid form, melt it first over low heat until it is completely liquefied.
-Pour the maple syrup and coconut oil over the dry ingredients and mix well.
-Spread the granola onto 2 parchment-lined baking sheets.
-Bake for 30 minutes, stirring every 10 minutes, until golden and crispy. If you are making this granola at high altitude, you may need to bake it for an additional ten minutes.
-Transfer the granola to a wire rack to cool. (If you don’t have a wire rack, don’t panic. Just slide the parchment onto your countertop and let the granola cool.) When cool, break up the granola and sprinkle with the golden raisins.
-Store your granola in an airtight container. High five your inner hippie and get down with your crunchy self.
- 3 cups gluten-free rolled oats
- ¼ cup raw chia seeds
- ¼ cup raw whole flaxseed
- 1 cup slivered almonds
- ½ cup chopped walnuts or pecans
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon cinnamon
- ¼ teaspoon ground nutmeg
- ½ cup pure coconut oil
- ½ cup good quality maple syrup
- ¾ cup golden raisins
- Pre-heat the oven to 325 degrees.
- In a large bowl, combine the rolled oats, chia seeds, flax seeds, almonds, walnuts, salt, cinnamon and nutmeg.
- In a small bowl, combine the maple syrup and coconut oil. If your coconut oil is in solid form, melt it first over low heat until it is completely liquefied.
- Pour the maple syrup and coconut oil over the dry ingredients and mix well.
- Spread the granola onto 2 parchment-lined baking sheets.
- Bake for 30 minutes, stirring every 10 minutes, until golden and crispy. If you are making this granola at high altitude, you may need to bake it for an additional ten minutes.
- Transfer the granola to a wire rack to cool. (If you don’t have a wire rack, don’t panic. Just slide the parchment onto your countertop and let the granola cool.) When cool, break up the granola and sprinkle with the golden raisins.
- Store your granola in an airtight container. High five your inner hippie and get down with your crunchy self.