"I wish I were at the beach" tropical granola

I can't stop. An addicting crunch, flavors of far-off places, and the image of a cerulean horizon have me constantly in downward dog as I pay my obeisance to granola. 

I know. The THRID recipe. But when it comes to granola, I feel like a mad scientist, sitting cross-legged on the kitchen table with a bag of dried something-or-other, and wondering how I can make into a crunchy pile of something delicious. 

I've talked about the little boys I babysit on here from time to time, but in case my explanations have been sporadic (as they often are), their names are Wes and Dylan. Wes, the younger at five years old, enjoys memorizing the names of hockey players and US presidents, playing the guitar, and the book Everyone Poops. Dylan, four years older, prefers neon colored sharpies and watching Master Chef Junior as we demolish package after package of seaweed. Both love dried mango. 

While dried fruit has a bad reputation as the less-healthy sister to fresh fruit, I think it has some solid redeeming qualities. It's got chew. It's got bite. It is nature's dehydrated candy that comes in gem stone colors and flavors inspired from the soil. Eating dried mango requires a pull of the teeth, a solid bite, a hearty chew. The experience cannot be compared to that of a fresh mango. They are two different entities and bring joy in unique and valid ways. 

So came the dried-mango inspired granola recipe. It tastes like a road trip along the PCH, a tropical night with your legs brushing across against a cotton dress, and the glow of tiki lights illuminating nature's path. Sprinkle it atop your favorite cereal, enjoy it with milk, or steal a few scoops before running up a mountain. 

beachy tropical granola

ingredients

4 cups of dried oats

1 banana

1 cup of pineapple

1/4 cup of orange juice

2 tablespoons of cinnamon, divided

1/3 cup of melted coconut oil

1/4 cup of maple syrup

1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract

1 cup of coconut flakes

1 1/2 cup of dried blueberries

1 1/2 cup of chopped almonds

1 6oz package of dried mango, chopped

1/4 cup of brown sugar

salt to taste (I use about 1 teaspoon)

directions

Add the banana, pineapple, orange juice, 1 tablespoon of cinnamon, coconut oil, maple syrup, and vanilla into a blender. Puree until well combined. 

Pour the oats into a large mixing bowl. Add the chopped almonds and coconut flakes and stir to combine. Add the banana-pineapple mixture to the oats, and stir to thoroughly coat.  

Pour the granola onto two parchment paper lined baking sheets, using a rubber spatula to spread it evenly across each sheet. Bake for 20 minutes, stirring the granola after 10. After the first 20 minutes, add the dried blueberries and dried mango. Combine the brown sugar, salt, and remaining cinnamon in a small bowl and sprinkle this over each tray of granola. Gently stir and cook for another 20 minutes, again stirring at the ten minute mark. 

Allow the granola to cool before eating. (Or not. I fail miserably at this and end up with burnt fingertips, but that's okay too.)

*note! I like my granola salty, so I am heavy-handed when it comes to adding the salt. Use less if you prefer a sweeter kick. 

stay cozy!