Guys! Homemade granola and this recipe! It deserves a million exclamation points! It holds a near and dear place in my heart. It is one of those recipes that instantly makes you think of the same person/people in your life who were the reason for all the fuzzy feelings around that food. It is one of those recipes were why I love cooking, sharing, hospitality and the deep warmth that food can bring to our lives. Homemade granola is this for me.
Now we have already covered the fact multiple times that I like crunchy (Roasted Chick Peas....drool), salty and the salty-sweet combo (raise your hand Loaded Salted Caramel Corn). This granola fits all the requirements. When I first graduated from college I was lost from not getting into graduate school. And when I say lost I mean utterly devasted. I didn't know what to do or where to go. My plans for my entire life had just been changed in an instant and to say God did a number on my heart and spirit throughout the next couple years is an understatement.
That summer the froyo craze had blown up and 3 incredible men in Lexington snagged up that market and Orange Leaf exploded! I honestly don't even remember how I got in contact with them but I was their first hire outside of the family. My world went from studying, sorority, and graduating to learning how to clean frozen yogurt machines, stirring gallons of froyo and sneaking handfuls of granola in the back with the best people I worked with. I didn't know it at the time but I needed that job more than they needed me.
The majority of people who worked there were the owners family members, church friends, and people who had just graduated and were in limbo like me. We would close out the store cranking the tunes, never taking breaks because it was so insanely busy, running down to Aldo to buy them out of milk and scooping out our favorite topping, granola, to eat on while we washed dishes. I look back and there will never ever be enough words for how thankful I am for Evan, Bryce, and Jeremiah giving me something that I desperately needed that was more than a job; I was surrounded by people and love and was reassured that I wasn't alone.
It was during that summer that I also met Justin (still swooning over here 🙂 ) and also started coaching track & field and cross country at a local high school. I have been running since I was in sixth grade but again, never in a million years did I have plans to ever coach. I began that fall and walked in the first day not knowing 1 thing about coaching and was scared out of my mind. If it weren't for the girls on the team who were in my life group at church I would not have stuck with it. 8 years later I am still coaching and that first class of students athletes are either married, graduated, working big people jobs, have had to grow up super quick because LIFE and incredible young adults (some of whom I still keep in touch with). There have been more than a couple times throughout each year that I question why I coach, why do I still do it, why I work around the hassle and schedule sometimes. Then I remember that first group. Who loved me and trusted me when I was scared and didn't have a clue what I was doing. It is to still be involved in their lives 8 years later and see how God has shaped and molded them. It is the athletes every year who leave that lasting impression on me. That is what helps make the time commitment and long meets so very worth it.
There is this other runner of mine that is long since graduated who was another one to make a lifetime impression. She is wise beyond her years and loves the Lord something fierce. She was friends with every single person on the team, always was smiling, always happy and is one heck of a runner. She would bring this ziplock bag of granola to every meet and one-weekday meet when I saw her picking at it and asked her what she was eating, my life was changed. 🙂 Every meet from then on that year I would beg her to bring some granola so I could have a bite or 2. So much so that her mom started to know to make a batch for every meet! 🙂 At our banquet the end of the season that year I came to my seat and there was a massive bag of homemade granola WITH A RECIPE ATTACHED!! It has been loved on and cherished and hangs on the inside of my kitchen cabinet along with all of my mom's staple recipes.
I have changed, adapted and played around with the recipe over the years. The best thing is that it has a great base (oats, coconut oil, honey, maple syrup, and spices) and you can add in whatever you like. I have made with just that before which is delicious and I have added just about everything in my kitchen pantry as well.
This recipe calls for flax seed, chia seed, pecans, almonds and unsweetened coconut flakes. Toss in whichever nuts and seeds you like, some dried fruit at the end, whatever your heart desires...the possibilities are endless!
Make sure to stir in the oven while cooking every 15-20 minutes to ensure even baking and let cool completely before you store in an airtight container. This will last for 3-4 weeks but I will be impressed if you have it longer than a week. I am forever grateful for Gods hand in the plans for my life, the people he has placed in it and for this granola. I smile with every bite of granola at how my life changed that summer after college and how it lead me to this recipe.
Oh and PS this recipe is free of refined oils, sugars, full of healthy fats and is the perfect little snack for you to enjoy while watching the Olympics this winter. GO TEAM USA!Print