Coconut Raisin Granola

Lately, I have become a bit of an exercise nut. A month ago I was dragging myself to a gym after work, but now it feels like a treat. Until my love for sweating and sore muscles wears off (and, if history is any indication, it inevitably will), I have been looking for a power breakfast to help me sustain my long workouts. While I typically mix some fruit into oatmeal or quinoa, some mornings I just don't have the time to stir a hot pot on the stove. For these mornings, I reach for a bowl of cereal, but it never fills me up as a breakfast should. While I love a good, satisfying granola, I just can't get behind the boxed brands with too much sugar and strange preservatives.

It took a few weeks for me to realize that a robust, hearty, and filling homemade granola is the perfect food to fuel an afternoon run.

For several years now, I have been hunting down the secret to a good chunky granola. Though there is little comparison of flavor between boxed granola and a personalized batch fresh from the oven, it bothered me that I could not quite get the textures to match. My ideal granola has big chunks along with a smattering of stray oats—just as the boxed granola features. If there were any stray clumps of oats in my homemade granola, it was seemingly by accident. I played around with ratios, substituted different ingredients in and out, and waved around my magic spatula, but the secret to my perfect granola remained untold.

Untold, that is, until now.

The secret to a good chunky granola is egg whites. The egg whites help to bind the granola together, allowing it to clump together while it toasts in the oven, but the egg whites do not lend any flavor to the finished product. Traditionally granola is stirred while baking to keep it evenly toasted. Granola bound together with egg whites is not stirred while in the oven, so it is best to spread it out evenly on one or two baking pans so it toasts evenly. When you are ready to eat or store the granola, you may break apart the granola into as large or as small pieces as you desire.

Now this is my perfect granola.

Coconut Raisin Granola makes for a healthy and robust breakfast. The sweetness of the granola comes from a drizzling of pure maple syrup and the coconut oil is used to help give the granola a nice crunch (while adding a light flavor). Oats, raisins, almonds, and coconut flakes give the granola a hearty texture. A pinch of nutmeg helps bring the flavors together in a wonderful blend. Serve plain, stirred into thick Greek yogurt, or as a cereal with a cup of milk.

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Coconut Raisin Granola

Yields 6 cups

1/4 cup (80 grams) pure maple syrup
1/4 cup (55 grams) coconut oil, liquid state
2 large egg whites, optional*
1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon salt
3 cups (240 grams) old fashioned or rolled oats
1 cup (120 grams) sliced almonds
1 cup (120 grams) unsweetened coconut flakes, lightly packed
1 cup (160 grams) raisins

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F (190 degrees C).

In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the maple syrup, coconut oil, egg whites, nutmeg, and salt until smooth. Stir in the oats, almonds, and coconut flakes until mixture is evenly coated.

Spread out evenly on a rimmed baking sheet and bake for 15-20 minutes, or until lightly toasted and fragrant. Stir in raisins. Cool before storing in an airtight container at room temperature.

Serve with milk, yogurt, or by the handful.

*The egg whites bind the granola together for a chunkier texture, allowing you to break it apart into small or large chunks of your choosing. If you prefer a looser granola, omit this ingredient.