Coconut Granola (Muesli) - A daily tradition started in Tuscany
Lately I've been thinking a lot about how to take care of my body to keep it healthy as I grow older. During my years in Italy, I started a tradition that I think keeps my body well nourished and is my way of eating a healthy lunch. To most Italians, it seemed pretty strange (I wasn't eating pasta), but for me it was the perfect blend of a healthy fat, crunchy grains, and fresh fruit. Also, granola takes longer to eat as it is so crunchy, so it naturally slows you down and helps you enjoy every bite.
My routine in Tuscany was to have a coffee and carrot muffin in the morning, start my writing work for a few hours, then take a long hike just before 11 am or so. When I returned, my lunch was a bowl of fresh fruit topped with delicious full fat (the best I have ever had) yogurt from northern Italy (Alto Adige) and crunchy granola. The cows that roam the Italian Alps must be so happy and content, I could taste it in the yogurt. In Italy, the granola is called Muesli (based on the Swiss tradition) and I often would find the kind that had toasted coconut as the main ingredient. It was a staple in our pantry.
Even now, this combination is one of my favorite lunch options to have. Back in Minnesota, it was hard to find just the right granola that didn't have a bunch of extra ingredients that I didn't need or want, so I started making my own based on what I remember having in Italy. It is so easy to do, and really versatile. You can switch up the recipe and add your favorite nuts (pistachios and walnuts are fantastic) and dried fruit, or add another flavor (like cinnamon or vanilla) to fit your personal taste. The granola keeps for weeks in an airtight container. One of my favorite yogurts here is Oui - a French style yogurt. It's creamy, almost custard-like and really delicious without a lot of extra sugar. And, the bonus is the cute little jars are fantastic to use for Vincenzo's lemon cream later. I hope you enjoy the recipe and remember to always take care of yourself.
Coconut Granola (Muesli)
Sheryl Ness (The Chef’s Wife)
2 ½ cups old fashioned oats
1 cup toasted coconut chips
1 cup dried fruit (I love a mixture of dried cherries, blueberries, and cranberries)
1 cup nuts (I love whole almonds and coconut cashews from Trader Joes)
½ teaspoon sea salt
1/8 cup maple syrup
2 tablespoons olive oil
· Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
· Mix all ingredients together in a large bowl until well coated.
· Prepare a baking sheet by covering it with parchment paper (or use spray oil).
· Spread out the granola on a baking sheet and bake for 15 minutes until golden and toasty.
· Let cool and place in an airtight container.
· Enjoy on yogurt with fresh fruit!