Lavender Vanilla Granola with Almonds

Lavender Vanilla Granola (2)

The whole yogurt with fruit and granola thing is not new for anyone…except for me. I have a touchy history with yogurt, due to an unfortunate childhood incident, and I stayed away from it for a good long while until Greek yogurt came into vogue. I gave it a try, what with the claims about how healthy it is, but I’ve stuck with it because it’s a good, filling snack and doesn’t have the off-putting gelatinous texture that regular yogurt (and pudding and other creamy things) has.

Granola is another story. I’ve always loved a good bowl of granola. If that means I have to start hugging trees, the trees better get ready because granola is tops in terms of delicious sweet, crunchy things. Granola, however, is not always as healthy as the stereotype makes it out to be. I rarely buy granola for just this reason, but as I’ve recently discovered the wonderful trifecta that is yogurt with fruit and granola, I needed to figure out a way to get my granola fix without all the sugar and fake ingredients of the store-bought variety.

What I needed was a basic recipe and I found in and oldie-but-goodie post on Gapers Block from Cinnamon’s One Good Meal column. The recipe contains only five ingredients and begs to be played around with. Which is exactly what I did.

Having decided I wanted to use almonds for the nut component, I knew I wanted to incorporate some vanilla extract. Vanilla, almonds…perfect combination, no? You know what else goes really well with vanilla? Lavender. I love the floral herbaceousness of lavender and with just a half-tablespoon of it here you get the occasional bite that releases a hit of that wonderfully unique flavor. (Just take care not to use too much or you’ll wonder why you’re eating laundry detergent.) Use the granola to top some vanilla yogurt and thawed frozen blueberries and you’ve got a fantastic afternoon snack.

Lavender Vanilla Granola (3)

This granola is easy to put together and takes only about a half an hour with the occasional stir. I started and completed it in the course of a wash cycle of laundry (which I decided to do based on the fact that the temp was in the mid-20s, but did not factor in the melting that would occur and make the gangway that houses the entrance to our laundry room into a death trap; I was seriously concerned that I would be impaled by a slow dripping icicle). I can’t wait to try it again and incorporate different flavors: pecans, figs, nutmeg, peanut butter, hazelnuts, ginger…I know making this recipe is going to be a common occurrence in my kitchen.

I made half of Cinnamon’s original recipe because I’d have more opportunities to try different combinations that way. If there’s more than one of you eating it, or you just want A LOT of granola, make the full amount. The half recipe makes enough to mostly fill a mason jar, about 3 cups.

Lavender Vanilla Granola

¼ cup corn or peanut oil
2 cups rolled oats (not quick or instant)
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
½ cup sliced almonds
½ tablespoon dried lavender flowers
1 tablespoon clover honey
pinch of salt*

Preheat oven to 325°. Pour the oil in a baking pan with sides (a quarter-sheet pan is a perfect size). Add the oats to the pan and drizzle with the vanilla extract. Stir to combine everything so the oats are coated with the oil. Toast in the oven for 15 minutes, stirring every 5 minutes to prevent burning. Add the nuts and dried lavender, stir again, and bake for another 10-15 minutes. If you think the nuts are done, they are done. They will go from toasty and delicious to burned fairly quickly, so better to pull them out early than late. After pulling the oats and nuts from the oven, add the honey and a pinch of salt and stir to combine. Let cool completely.

*The original recipe does not call for salt, but as I am a salty person, I thought it would add a nice touch. I was right, but you can leave it out if you like.

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