Easy homemade granola

“Eat your breakfast alone, share your lunch with a friend, and give your dinner to your enemy.”  This old saying in Romanian culture still rings so true today.  In a nutshell, you have to eat a generous breakfast, a small lunch, and an even smaller dinner, or skip dinner entirely to maintain a healthy lifestyle.  So, we’re talking about breakfast again, a meal I was never fond of yet steadily grew to appreciate.  But, stay with me, it’s worth it!  Breakfast today includes a very easy and lip-smacking granola!       
I have to tell you that Romania doesn’t really do granola.  In fact, it’s only been a few years since we started incorporating cereal into our daily breakfast.  Traditionally, breakfast in Romania is substantial and comprised of bread; eggs turned into omelettes, scrambled, fried or hard-boiled; cheese, butter, cold cuts, fresh vegetables such as tomatoes, peppers and cucumbers, jams, coffee and tea.  Frequently and mostly in the countryside, Romanians still prepare with great pride the country’s national breakfast called mămăligă or polenta, a rich and filling cornmeal dish served with cheese.  These days, in our house this type of breakfast has evolved into a brunch, which we fully relish on the weekend.  On weekdays, though, this Easy Homemade Granola has breakfast written all over it!  
Truth be told, I used to purchase my fair share of sickly pale store-bought granola, but now the search has ceased.  I’ve found a recipe that makes me look forward to breakfast every morning.  It’s my go-to invigorating breakfast (and late night guilty sweet snack).  This granola has it all; it’s simple but rich in flavor, crisp and crunchy, nutty and nicely spiced, packed with the usual suspects – oats, nuts, seeds and sweet accompaniments – freckled with colorful chewy raisins and dried cranberries, and lacquered with a healthy dose of olive oil.  And that pinch of salt in a sea of crackly deliciousness binds everything together and nails the faint savory component.  All there’s left to do is sprinkle a couple of spoonfuls of granola over creamy plain yogurt, and toss in a few slices of apple or your favorite fruit while you’re at it, simply douse it in milk, or use it to make this bad boy.  Enjoy!    
Easy Homemade Granola
Adapted from Bon Appétit (February 2013)
Makes: 12+ servings

·         1 large egg white, beaten
·         3 cups old-fashioned oats
·         ½ cup whole raw almonds
·         ½ cup whole raw cashews
·         ½ cup whole raw walnuts
·         1 ½ cup sweetened flaked coconut
·         ¼ cup agave nectar
·         ¼ cup maple syrup
·         ¼ cup olive oil
·         ¼ cup sesame seeds
·         2 Tablespoons packed light brown sugar
·         1 ½ teaspoon kosher salt
·         ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
·         ½ cup golden raisins
·         ½ cup dried cranberries
Preheat the oven to 350°F.  Spread out the almonds, cashews and walnuts on a baking sheet and toast them for 10 minutes.  Take them out of the oven and let them cool completely.  Once cooled, chop the nuts and set them aside.  Lower the oven temperature to 300°F. 
In a large bowl, combine the egg white, old-fashioned oats, nuts, coconut shavings, agave nectar, maple syrup olive oil, sesame seeds, light brown sugar, salt, and cinnamon.  Toss well to combine.  Spread out on a rimmed baking sheet.  Bake the granola, stirring every 10 minutes, until golden brown and dry, about 40-45 minutes.  Once out of the oven, mix in the golden raisins and dried cranberries.  Allow the granola to cool on the baking sheet (it will crisp as it cools).  
Do ahead:  The granola can be made 2 weeks ahead.  Store airtight at room temperature.
Note:  Feel free to tweak this recipe as you wish – you can swap honey for maple syrup and agave; you can play around with the dried fruit or add chocolate chips at the end if you wish.  There’s plenty of room for negotiation!
Poftă Bună! (Bon Appétit!)

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