Scrumptious Granola Clusters

We recently took a weekend visit to Northern Ohio. We wanted to spend time with family, watch our nephew play some amazing high school football, and enjoy the rolling hills and colorful treelined byways while visiting a few local Amish community shops.
When in Ohio, I try to take the opportunity to stop at Marc’s, a local discount store that can offer some amazing deals. It’s “hit or miss”, but I often stock up on coffee, staples and seasonal trinkets that are placed on entry area shelves listed at rock bottom, close-out prices. 
After carefully searching the bountiful shelves, I ended up buying a few color coordinated cutting boards, silicone trivets, and pin-striped double oven mitts to give as Christmas gift sets this holiday season. I often pair kitchen items with wholesome baked goods for a more personal holiday gift. I also bought large boxes of flavored k-cups, cereal, and oatmeal.
I purchased several boxes of this low-sugar cereal with this granola recipe in mind… Kashi Original GoLean has lots of fun shapes and textures nestled within the box.
I also use our own maple syrup to sweeten the mix and it’s sticky properties help to form the crunchy granola clusters. Pair this delicious granola with Greek yogurt and sweet crunchy apples for an awesome breakfast combination. What a way to start the day!
Scrumptious Granola Clusters
4 cups dry, sugarless breakfast cereal ( I use Kashi GoLean Original pictured above)
1 cup chopped walnuts
1/2 cup sunflower seeds
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 cup coconut oil, melted
1/2 cup maple syrup or honey
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2/3 cup dried fruit (optional)

Preheat oven to 325 degrees and line a large, jellyroll pan with aluminum foil or parchment, lightly sprayed with cooking spray. In a large mixing bowl, combine the cereal, nuts and seeds. Stir to blend.
In a small saucepan, combine the oil, maple syrup and/or honey, cinnamon and salt. Bring to a boil, remove from heat and stir in vanilla. Pour hot mixture into dry cereal mixture. Mix well, until every oat and nut is lightly coated. Pour the granola onto your prepared pan and use a large spoon to spread it in an even layer. Bake until golden, about 18 to 20 minutes, stirring halfway. The granola will continue to crisp up as it cools.
Let the granola cool for 10 minutes before breaking it into pieces and stirring in the (optional) dried fruit. Store the granola in an airtight container at room temperature for 1 to 2 weeks, or in a sealed freezer bag in the freezer.

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Rita’s Oat and Raisin Breakfast Cereal

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I bumped into an old friend the other day. She and I used to work together. Our paths would often cross as we headed in and out of the office. Most of our work was done in the field so we weren’t able to see one another on a regular basis. Whenever we had the opportunity to stop and catch up for a bit, she would always share her latest recipe find. The recipes that she enjoyed most, were those that were simple, healthy, and inexpensive.
Well, I have since moved up in rank and our paths really don’t cross any longer. But to my delight, she sent an email the other day, with an invitation to lunch. I was thrilled to hear from her so we met for a quick bite to eat at a local restaurant. The minutes passed as we shared stories of kids, husbands, work, and the daily grind. It was so great to see her. Without fail, she slipped me a piece of paper as we parted ways. On it was printed her latest recipe find. She calls it Peanut Butter Granola but after making it this morning, I’m calling it Rita’s Oat and Raisin Breakfast Cereal. The texture is softer and less crunchy as compared to a traditional granola. My daughter, M ate it as a breakfast cereal this morning and raved about the texture and taste. I hope you enjoy it…Thanks, Rita!

Rita’s Oat and Raisin Breakfast Cereal

2 cups old fashioned oats
1/2 cup raisins
2 1/2 cup rice cereal
1/2 cup apple juice
1/4 cup brown sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup natural peanut butter

Stir together in a mixing bowl, whole oats, rice cereal, and raisins. In a saucepan, bring to a boil the apple juice and brown sugar. Remove from the stove and suit in vanilla and peanut butter. When peanut butter has dissolved, pour over cereal mixture in the bowl and stir until thoroughly combined. Pour mixture onto a jelly roll pan and bake at 300 degrees for 10 minutes. Cool completely and store in an air-tight container.

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