DONNA'S DAY: Try some tasty slow-cooker granola

Try making some slow-cooker granola with nuts and fruits.

We're a granola-eating family. When the tall jar in our pantry reads almost empty, it's time to stir up and bake a new batch.

It's never a chore, because the fresh homemade taste of heart healthy oats with nuts and dried fruit always satisfies, whether combined with yogurt and berries at breakfast, or sprinkled over a scoop of ice cream for an evening dessert.

No wonder I was curious when a friend suggested I make granola in my slow cooker instead of baking it in the oven. Skeptical, I gave it a try and loved the results. In fact, it's a game-changer. I stick with my basic recipe that never disappoints. The hand-crafted, economical blend is open to variations, like substituting cashews for the almonds or pecans.

When I buy a jug of fresh local maple syrup, I leave out the brown sugar entirely. For variety, I'll cut up something unusual, like dried persimmons, to toss in at the end with the raisins.

TASTY SLOW-COOKER GRANOLA

Cooking spray or olive oil

4 cups old-fashioned rolled oats (not quick cooking)

1/2 cup brown sugar*

1 teaspoon cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon baking powder

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 cup coarsely chopped whole almonds

1/2 cup coarsely chopped pecans

1/2 cup canola oil

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

2 egg whites, slightly beaten

1/2 cup raisins**

1. Prepare the slow cooker: Spray the cooking spray on the bottom and sides of a 3-quart or larger slow cooker, or lightly coat with oil.

2. Combine the oats, brown sugar, cinnamon, baking powder, salt and nuts in a slow cooker.

3. Stir together the oil, vanilla and egg whites in a small bowl. Add to dry ingredients and toss well until fully coated.

4. Turn slow cooker to high. Set a wooden spoon under one side of the lid to hold the lid open, slightly ajar. Cook for 1 1/2 to 2 hours until toasted, stirring mixture well every 30 minutes.

5. Stir in raisins and spread mixture on a baking sheet to cool. Store in jars or in an airtight container. Makes about 6 cups.

*Substitute brown sugar with 1/2 cup maple syrup, honey or agave syrup, and combine with liquid ingredients before tossing with dry ingredients.

**In addition to (or instead of) raisins, use your favorite dried fruit, chopped.

TIP: To give as a gift, let kids draw a label to glue to a mason jar. It might say "The Johnsons' World's Best Granola."

Find more recipes and family fun at www.donnaerickson.com. Write to Donna at Info@donnaerickson.com. Donna Erickson’s award-winning series “Donna’s Day” is airing on public television nationwide. © 2021 Donna Erickson Distributed by King Features Synd.

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