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BACK TO SCHOOL: Recipe for cinnamon-citrus granola with pepitas and cashews

07/14/2015 10:47 EDT | Updated 07/14/2016 05:59 EDT
The best part of homemade granola isn't that it's cheaper. Or even that you can make it with healthier ingredients.

The best part of homemade granola is that you can customize it to be exactly the way you like it. Do you prefer it with gobs of peanuts and chocolate chips, but your store brand never has enough? Dump them in. Same goes for dried fruits, sweeteners, nuts, pretzel chunks, whatever you crave. DIY granola is the ultimate have-it-your-way food.

It also happens to be an excellent choice for when the kids head back to school. It's great at breakfast with yogurt or applesauce, packs easily into lunches, and even can be sprinkled over ice cream for dessert (or a particularly indulgent afterschool snack).

Our granola recipe is a great starting point, but customize it as you see fit. Combinations to consider include: coconut-almond-chocolate; lemon zest and sunflower seeds with dried pineapple and mango; and pistachio-cherry-white chocolate.

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CINNAMON-CITRUS GRANOLA WITH PEPITAS AND CASHEWS

If you decide to customize this recipe, note that chocolate, peanuts, pretzels and dried fruit should be stirred in after the rest of the granola has baked and cooled.

Start to finish: 1 1/2 hours (15 minutes active)

Servings: 12

3 cups rolled oats

1 tablespoon cinnamon

Zest of 2 oranges

2 tablespoons packed brown sugar

1/4 teaspoon kosher salt

1 cup pepitas (shelled pumpkin seeds)

1 cup broken cashews

1/3 cup honey

1/4 cup sunflower or grapeseed oil

2 teaspoons vanilla bean paste

Heat the oven to 275 F. Line a rimmed baking sheet with kitchen parchment.

In a large bowl, combine the oats, cinnamon, orange zest, brown sugar, salt, pepitas and cashews. In a small bowl, whisk together the honey, oil and vanilla bean paste. Drizzle the honey mixture over the oat mixture and stir to combine. Spread evenly on the prepared baking sheet and bake for 1 hour 15 minutes, stirring every 15 minutes, or until golden. The granola will still feel a little sticky, but will dry as it cools.

Cool on the pan, then store in an airtight container at room temperature.

Nutrition information per serving: 290 calories; 140 calories from fat (48 per cent of total calories); 16 g fat (2.5 g saturated; 0 g trans fats); 0 mg cholesterol; 45 mg sodium; 30 g carbohydrate; 4 g fiber; 12 g sugar; 8 g protein

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