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Easy Homemade Crunchy Maple Walnut Granola

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Yield: Approximately 7 cups

4 cups old-fashioned rolled oats
3/4 cup shredded sweetened coconut
1 1/2 cups coarsely chopped walnuts
3/4 cup dried tart cherries
3/4 cup dried banana chips
3/4 cup pure maple syrup
1/4 cup unsalted butter (or butter substitute such as Smart Balance)
1-2 teaspoons maple extract*
1 /2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg

1. Preheat oven to 300 degrees F. Combine first 5 ingredients in a medium bowl.

2. In a small pan over medium heat, melt maple syrup and butter. Remove from heat; stir in maple extract, salt, cinnamon, and nutmeg.

3. Pour maple-butter mixture over the oat mixture and stir until well coated. Spread mixture on a large rimmed baking sheet coated with cooking spray. Bake for 20-25 minutes, stirring once or twice, until granola is golden brown. (If you want it extra crunchy, then turn off heat and leave in the warm oven for another 20-25 minutes.) Cool completely. Store in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 2 weeks.

*Note: Maple extract is intensely flavored, so it's a great, reduced calorie way to cut down on the amount of maple syrup needed. It's available in the spice section of most major supermarkets. If you can't find it, then add an extra 1/4 cup of maple syrup to the recipe.

- Recipe courtesy of Susan Russo

 

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