olive oil, sea salt & vanilla granola

Turns out everyone is making olive oil granola but I didn't know that when I made this a few months ago. (oh well, she said) This is my take on what it looks like is a trend. Granola is having a moment. Another one. It is cool again after being cool and then not, a bit like Birkenstocks. One cannot really blame the granola for a fall from grace - really I would have to point to the commercialization and mass-production of what really ought to be made in small batches and is best made in home kitchens. Churned out by the ton it loses all the goodness and most of its charm, packaged into cardboard boxes and retaining only convenience. After that batch of blame there is the whole fiasco of low-fat, bad fat and the cascade of misinformation that characterized most nutritional theory for the past generation. I find it refreshing to read the more current (well- researched) thinking - that we need (good) fats, much less sugar, high quality carbs and protein for a healthy life. Go figure, eating whole and entirely satisfying food prepared simply is best. Our grandparents and their parents did it without thinking because that is all there was. Laziness and convenience have opened up a Pandora's box of options for us in recent decades until we have eaten ourselves into a nightmare of ill health and over-weight*. ....  I will climb down off my soap-box now and we can just talk about how much we love granola. 

I do love granola. It is a great hand-snack or breakfast bowl. Fast, easy and infinitely variable to make there is always a large glass canister in our kitchen filled with one flavour  or another. The standard for years and years at our house has been a fabulously fragrant and delicious cinnamon granola loaded with nuts and seeds and all kinds of goodness and health. But I am ever curious and eager for something new so when I recently embarked on an intense affair with olive oil that went beyond the usual pastas and salads and bread dip, granola was only logical. Cinnamon granola will always have a place in my heart and kitchen but you need to know that olive oil, sea salt and vanilla make an absolutely addictive version of the venerable mix. I am quite honestly obsessed and I proselyte my wares to any and all. I have been so eager to share that I have taken small tasting bags of it to social events (questionable behaviour I know but if you tried it you would understand). This granola is salty and chewy and tastes like olive oil, no mild oil wanted here. And clumps and bunches. Chewy salty-sweet bunches. Eat it out of hand, grab a cluster on the way past the jar, sprinkle it over a bowl of pure white, creamy, plain Greek yogurt or load that bowl of yogurt up with diced apples, a generous couple of handfuls of granola and a sprinkle of cinnamon. Grab your Birkenstocks and get your hippie on! 

There is not much that I would even consider retrieving from the '70's but granola? oh ya.

This truly amazing granola (I did say obsessed) fuelled day after day of walking and walking and walking  on a recent and equally amazing trip to Japan - well-worth the bag space and weight.

For this granola you really do want a superior and full-flavoured olive oil, something nice and green. 

olive oil, sea salt & vanilla granola

3 cups large flake rolled oats
3 cups flaked almonds
1 cup green pumpkin seeds (pepitas)
1/2 cup hemp seed heart
1 cup sunflower seeds
1 tsp vanilla powder
1 Tbsp flakey sea salt (I used Maldon's)
1 cup olive oil
3/4 cup maple syrup
1/4 cup brown rice syrup
3/4 cup coconut palm sugar
2 tsp vanilla
2 cups raisins

Preheat the oven to 300 degrees F. Line a half-sheet pan with parchment paper and set aside.

Mix the oats, almonds, pepitas, hemp seeds, sunflower seeds, and vanilla powder in a large bowl. Combine the olive oil, maple syrup, brown rice syrup, coconut sugar, and vanilla in a small bowl and pour over the mixture in the large bowl. Mix well - get your hands into it if need be - add the raisins and mix some more.

Spread evenly in the parchment lined baking sheet and bake for 30 minutes. Increase the oven temperature to 350 and bake for another 15 minutes or until nicely toasted. Remove from oven and cool in the pan before transferring to a container to store.

* For an interesting read try The Big Fat Surprise by Nina Teicholz. Then relax and enjoy your full-fat yogurt and olive oil granola bowl, Birks optional.

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