It's no secret I love food. I love everything about it: growing it, cooking it, appreciating when others have cooked it, and, of course, eating it.

But breakfast is a real conundrum. What's a busy, health-loving, food-loving, modern-day gal on the go to do? I'm not going to cook myself a big breakfast on a weekday morning, but a bowl of processed, sugar-laded crap that passes for cereal isn't going to cut it either. Cue my lovely Aussie friend Matilda recently presenting me with a glass jar tied with a lavender bow. Inside was her homemade granola.

The verdict? YUM. Yeah…it was that good. 

I refused to share. I hoarded it like some crazy lady.  I think I devoured it in what can only be described as truly astounding speed. And I was promptly inspired to make my own.

According to my sister the nutritionist, granola with fat-free plain yogurt is a great way to start your day because it's a good source of calcium, vitamin D, and lean protein from the yogurt, as well as whole grains, dietary fiber, and healthy (monounsaturated) fats from the nuts. It's also a heart-healthy breakfast that will keep you fuller, longer. Best of all, it can be made ahead and eaten all week. Oh, and did I mention it's also delicious??

Here's a basic version:

Preheat the over to 250.

In a big bowl, combine about 3 cups of whole oats with 1 cup of slivered almonds, 1 cup of sunflower seeds, and 1/2 cup of unsweetened shredded coconut. Stir in 1/4 cup canola oil and 1/4 cup maple syrup until everything's well-mixed and fully coated.

Spread out on a baking sheet (recommend pre-spraying with cooking oil spray or lightly covering with oil so it doesn't stick) and bake for 90 minutes. STIR IT EVERY 20 MINUTES.

Remove and let cool. Then add 1/2 to 1 cup of raisins depending on how much you want. Or dried cranberries.

Voila!

Adjustments and options: The recipe called for an additional 1/4 cup of brown sugar and 1/4 more of oil but I cut them out to keep it less sweet and more healthy. If you like it sweeter, play with these measurements.

SUBSTITUTE: Any nuts or seeds you want! I tried pumpkin seeds last week and they were awesome. They're super recommended in the world or ayurveda, so definitely give them a go. You could also use cashews or whole almonds or sliced almonds or walnuts or peanuts or flax seeds or anything else. Ditto on the dried fruit: cranberries, mango, blueberries, cherries…whatever you want! That's the joy (and the power – bwahaha) of being the chef! 🙂

NOTE: Do *NOT* try to make a speedy version by broiling it for a few minutes. I tried and all I ended up with was a tray full of charred bits and an apartment filled with smoke. Learn from my mistake.

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