Crunchy Granola

Original granola recipe by Mark Bittman, adapted by Jane TaylorMakes 8-10 cups

Shopping list: 6 cups rolled oats (NOT quick cooking or instant) 2 cups small pieces of mixed nuts (almonds, pecans, walnuts) 1 cup shredded coconut 1 tsp cinnamon, or to taste dash of salt ½-1 cup honey, maple syrup or agave 2 cups dried fruit coconut oil non-stick cooking spray

What & how to do it: ♦    Preheat your oven on bake mode to 350°. ♦    Line a baking sheet with heavy-duty aluminum foil and spray with coconut oil. ♦    Chop up your nuts into small-medium sized pieces- the kind of size you would want to see floating around in your morning cereal bowl- and set aside.  The types of nuts I use are pecans, walnuts and raw almonds, but you can put anything you like. ♦    In one very large boil combine the oats, nuts, coconut, cinnamon, salt and sweetener.  I prefer a combination of maple syrup and agave.  The honey is super sweet and sometimes heavy, whereas the agave is light and the maple very flavorful.  Mix very well until all the oats & nuts are coated with the sweetener. ♦    Pour this mixture onto your baking sheet and bake for approx 20-30 minutes or until the oats become a toasty caramel color.  Your kitchen will fill up with the cinnamon smell, indicating that readiness is approaching! ♦    While the oat mixture is baking, chop up the dried fruit.  I usually put any combination of: apricots, figs, cherries, blueberries, and cranberries. Trader Joe's has some fantastic packages of mixed dried fruit.   Lately I have been dehydrating strawberries & peaches and adding them in, since at the time of posting this recipe it is the summer fruit growing season, and these are a great addition to this recipe. Again, I chop up the fruit into relatively small pieces around the size of something that fits into my morning cereal bowl.  Toss all of your chopped dried fruit into the big bowl that you mixed the oats and nuts in because it has the cinnamon-maple flavoring already in it. ♦     Once the baking tray has cooled down a bit but is not cold, toss the warm oat mix into the large bowl with the fruit, and mix all together well so that the flavors become totally combined. ♦    You are done!  Let the granola cool down, place in container and enjoy!