I can't believe people pay $5 or $6 for those little bags of granola they sell at the grocery store! If you know how to turn the oven on, use a measuring cup and a mixing spoon, then you can make it yourself for just pennies.
This particular recipe was a bit of an experiment using one of my favorite vegan sweeteners: apple juice concentrate. I think that this 100% natural sweetener has been overlooked for far to long, and I'm on a mission to find good uses for it! I haven't actually used it in baked goods yet, but maybe that should be my next experiment. Anyway, it sweetens the granola perfectly, though it doesn't leave much of an apple taste behind.
This cranberry-coconut-sunflower seed combination is one of my favourites, but obviously granola is endlessly flexible, so feel free to use whatever you'd like. I think any kind of nut, seed, or dried fruit would taste yummy in granola. I think for my next batch I'm going to try a coconut-apricot-almond combo.
One word of advice: it really is important to stick around the kitchen while the granola is baking and stir it every few minutes. Towards the end of the cooking time the granola can go from toasted to burnt in just seconds! But it makes your house smell great, so it's worth the stirring.
Cranberry-Coconut Granola (makes 5 cups)
1/4 c. oil
1/4 c. unsweetened apple juice concentrate
1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
1/2 tsp almond extract
3 cups rolled oats (regular or quick, not instant or steel cut)
1 c. unsweetened coconut
1 c. sunflower seeds
zest of one orange
2/3 c. dried cranberries
Preheat oven to 350 F. Combine all ingredients except the cranberries, and mix thouroughly in a large mixing bowl. Spread over a cookie sheet. Bake for approximately 20 minutes. Stir every 5 minutes for the first 15 minutes or so, and then watch carefully for the last 5. When it is a little lighter than you think it should be, it's done. (The mixture is extremely hot, so it will continute to darken even after you take it out of the oven.) Stir in the dried cranberries, and store in jars after the granola has cooled completely.