It’s September, and though we won’t feel a breath of cool air in these parts for at least another two months, I like to slip into a blissful ignorance about my tropical climes and imagine the cool autumn breezes that wik away the summer sweat. I’m not the only one. Anyone who lives in South Florida looks forward to those intermittent seasonal dips and the scents and flavors they evoke.
Which is how I came up with this apple walnut spice granola. September and October are full-on apple season, and really, the only other flavor that’s more “fall” is pumpkin — but you really should wait until October for that one.
This granola gets crunch from toasted oats, wheat germ and walnuts, with an extra boost of nutrition from flax and chia seeds (optional, but tasty).
Granola should have fruit, too. At least I think it should. I used chewy dried apples and tangy golden raisins for little pops of sweetness throughout.
The binder is a combination of almond butter, honey and maple syrup with a shower of apple pie spice to tickle your nose and tastebuds.
OK – confession time. I planned to make granola bars. I packed the still warm mixture into my pan. I baked it and let it cool. I turned it out onto a cutting board and using my sharpest knife, began to cut it into bars. But they didn’t cut like “bars”. Instead they shattered into jagged chunks, shards and crumbles. Not cool!
I think it was the dried apple. Turns out that dried apple is more leathery in texture than I’d remembered. And because the apple was scattered throughout the granola, I couldn’t achieve any neat, orderly portions. Rather than feed the whole batch to the squirrels, I decided to call it what it was. Granola. Delicious with fruit, yummy over yogurt, sensational to snack on at your desk. Any way you slice it, or crumble it, it’s good!
apple walnut spice granola bars
- 2 cups old fashioned rolled oatmeal
- 1 cup walnuts chopped
- 1/2 cup wheat germ
- 1 tablespoon flax seed optional
- 1 tablespoon chia seed optional
- 1 cup dried apple chopped into 1/2" pieces
- 1/2 cup golden raisins
- 1/3 cup organic almond butter
- 2 tablespoons honey
- 1/4 cup brown sugar
- 3 tablespoons maple syrup
- 2 tablespoons canola or vegetable oil
- 1 teaspoon apple pie spice or 3/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon, 1/8 teaspoon fresh nutmeg, dash of ground cloves, dash of mace
- 1 teaspoon vanilla.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Prepare an 8x8 baking pan by spraying it with vegetable oil and lining with parchment paper, so that the ends hang off the sides. Set aside.
Evenly spread the oatmeal and chopped walnuts on a baking sheet and bake for 10 minutes until lightly toasted. Transfer the oatmeal to a large bowl. Add the wheat germ, flax and chia seeds, apple and raisins to the oatmeal mixture and toss to combine. Set aside.
Reduce the oven to 300 degrees.
In a small saucepan combine the almond butter, honey, brown sugar, maple syrup, canola oil and apple pie spice. Heat to boiling and cook, stirring for about 1 minute until everything is combined. Remove from heat and stir in the vanilla.
Pour the almond butter mixture into the oatmeal mixture and work with a rubber spatula until thoroughly combined. Transfer the granola to the baking pan and use your fingers to press the mixture firmly and evenly into the pan. Bake for 25-30 minutes. Allow granola to cool for an hour before breaking into pieces. Store at room temperature in an airtight container.