I usually never buy real maple syrup... it's just SO expensive and there's no way around it. Even when we go to the Highland County Maple Festival I've refrained from buying the freshly made syrup because I'm just too cheap. But, with "free money" left to spend at Arganica from the Groupon I purchased, I decided to go for the splurge and ordered a pint of local maple syrup. It's been amazing on pancakes, but I wanted to find some more uses for it, now that I actually have it available for once in my life. First up: maple almond granola!
4 cups rolled oats
1/2 cup wheat germ
1/2 cup ground flax seed
1 1/2 cups chopped or sliced almonds
1/3-1/2 cup real maple syrup (depending on how sweet you want the granola to be)
1/3 cup natural unsweetened peanut butter (or almond butter!)
1 T vegetable or canola oil
pinch of salt
1/2 t almond extract
1 cup dried fruit
Preheat oven to 300 degrees F. Combine the oats, wheat germ, flax, and almonds in a large bowl.
In a small bowl, combine the peanut butter, maple syrup, and vegetable oil. Microwave for 20 seconds and stir well. The microwaving softens the peanut butter making it easier to mix together. Add the pinch of salt and almond extract and stir to combine.
Pour this mixture over the dry ingredients and mix with your hands until it is all evenly coated. Spread the granola out over a large rimmed baking sheet, or two smaller ones. You could alternatively use a casserole dish.
Place in the oven and bake for 10-15 minutes. Stir. Continue baking for 10 minute increments, stirring in between until it is all evenly golden and toasted. It should take about 40 minutes total, more or less. Remove and cool. See the color difference?
When it is cooled, mix in the dry fruit, and store in a sealed container or zip lock bag. Enjoy for breakfast, for a snack, or even for dessert!