Maple Pecan Granola is hearty, satisfying and wholesome with less sugar than most pre-packaged granola. It's so easy to make homemade with a few simple ingredients. This recipe is vegan and optionally gluten free. NOTE: Due to a few notes I've received regarding baking time for this recipe, be sure to use an external oven thermometer for best out come and/or start watching the granola during the last 20 minutes of baking. The granola should be golden and fragrant when done.
Optional Add Ins: 1/2 cup of chocolate chips* (pre bake - see note). OR a few handfuls of chopped dried fruit such as chopped Turkish apricot, sour cherries, cranberries or raisins (post bake).
Line a sheet pan with parchment paper and set oven to 275F (135C). Place a baking rack in the center of the oven.
In a mixing bowl, add the rolled oats, pecans, coconut, sunflower seeds, salt, cinnamon, and chocolate chips (optional). Set aside.
In a spouted measuring cup, combine the melted coconut oil, maple syrup and vanilla bean paste. Stir. You will see separation. If the coconut oil solidifies, gently rewarm it in the microwave to keep it in a liquid state.
Pour wet ingredients into the dry. Using a wooden spoon or your hands, mix throughly, ensuring that each, individual dry ingredient gets some wet on it. Press the granola into the pan, in one even layer.
Place the pan in preheated oven and bake at 275F (135C) for 1 hour. Rotate the pan, turn the oven up to 300F (148C), and bake for an additional 20-25 minutes OR until golden and fragrant (keep an eye on the granola during the last 20 minutes of baking due to oven temperature variation - it should be golden when done). Do not stir the granola, or clustering will be greatly reduced.
Remove from the oven. The granola will be golden and soft to the touch. It will firm up as it cools. Allow the granola to cool completely in the pan before transferring to a storage container. Doing this will ensure crunchy clusters. If desired, toss in your favorite dried fruit such as chopped Turkish apricot, sour cherries, cranberries or raisins.
Store in a covered container, at room temperature, for up to three weeks. Granola can also be frozen for up to one month.
*For a flavor bomb, stir in 1/2 C of mini chocolate chips while adding the dry ingredients. I enthusiastically recommend anoven thermometer! due to oven calibration variations, temperature fluctuations and for the best baking outcome. Adapted from Alton Brown's Granola Recipe on the Food Network.