Cherry Turnovers

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I hear from a lot of people that they don’t like to bake.

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Many complain that it’s too labor intensive, or they’re single or there’s only two of them left at home and much of their baked goods go to waste.

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Or, it’s too calorie dense.

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I can’t help you with your calorie worries, other than to tell you that life’s way, way, too short not to indulge in an extra special treat now and then. Especially pastries!

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But, I can tell you that if you want to learn to love baking, preparation is key, especially when baking things that require a crust.

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I try to keep a batch of pie dough in my freezer at all times. That way, when the mood strikes, we have unannounced company, or a birthday dinner is coming up like last night, all I have to do is thaw it and roll it out.

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For me, making the dough and baking with it at the same time, seems labor intensive.

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Plus, most doughs require refrigeration prior to use anyway.

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With the dough made ahead of time, whipping up an impressive dessert or even a chicken pot pie, or quiche, with little notice is pretty darn easy.

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If there’s only one or two of you at your home and you think these aren’t going to get eaten in time, these pastries freeze very well. You can also cut the recipe in half, or even quarter it. I wrap each one in a freezer bag and then layer them in a larger freezer bag. Simply take out however many individual servings you plan on eating and allow them to thaw before serving.

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 Cherry Turnovers

~ Makes 14 Turnovers~

*Preheat oven to 35o degrees

1 Recipe of my Gluten Free & Dairy Free Pie Dough

3 – 14.5 oz cans of Tart Cherries, drained well

1/2 Cup of Coconut Sugar

3 Tablespoons of Mama’s All Purpose Almond Flour, plus more for rolling

1 teaspoon of Pure Almond Extract

About 4 Cups of Confectioners Sugar

About 1/4 Cup of Dairy Free Butter

2 teaspoons of Pure Almond Extract

Water to thin out frosting

Remove dough discs from freezer and allow to thaw on counter for about 30 minutes. If you’re making the dough the same day you’re making the turnovers, refrigerate the dough for two hours before rolling. Place a large sieve over a large bowl and drain all the cherries while lining two baking sheets with parchment, preparing your rolling surface, and preheating the oven.

Move the drained cherries to a large bowl and add the sugar, flour, and 1 teaspoon of almond extract. Toss carefully to combine thoroughly. Set aside. Roll dough out one disc at a time and cut into rounds. Place rounds on baking sheets. Continue to roll out dough until you have enough rounds to top the turnovers. Once the rounds are on the sheets, pat each one out a little bit with your fingers.

Place a large spoonful of the cherry mixture in the middle of each round on the baking sheets. With a spoon, drizzle a small amount of cherry juice around all of the edges. Roll each top out a little more after cutting and cover the cherries. Press down into the cherry juice on the bottoms, and crimp edges (I used the handle end of a fork). Poke each top once or twice with fork tines.

Bake for 35 minutes. Move to cooling racks and let rest for 30 minutes before frosting.

For the frosting:

Melt the butter, add the powdered sugar and almond extract. Whisk until combined adding a little water at a time to make a thick drizzling consistency. Drizzle over the tops of each turnover, allow to set before serving.

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Happy 49th to my hubby. xoxo

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Chocolate Chai Tea Latte & a bit of This & That

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How has the first month of the New Year been going for you? January has been a bit of a crazy month for our family. One thing after another it seems.

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We lost my mom’s brother unexpectedly. He had a staff infection in his heart and it caused a stroke. We were thankful that mom and all of his kids were able to get down to Nevada and spend time with him before he passed. I stayed home to watch mom’s house and tend to her kitties. Mike’s kids came from all over. One child came from Colorado, another from New York, and another was able to make it in time from England.  Mike was very happy they were all there with him. The day before he passed away they sat in his room sharing stories and talking about what he meant to each one of them. Mom said it was a wonderful day and a blessing to be able to have that time together with him. One of the children had to leave her husband who was also with his dying father at the time, to come to be at her own father’s side. So much grief to handle.

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Mom and Mike’s oldest daughter Nancy from England, were in charge of finding Mike’s loving companion Angel, a Newfoundland, a new home. She’s very old and there were several homing ideas being discussed. Mike loved her dearly, so not just any home would do. After a few days a wonderful blessing just dropped into their laps. One of Nancy’s friends who had continued his relationship with Mike all these years, heard of Mike’s passing and it turns out…he and his wife take in and care for aging animals. He knows Angel, and was thrilled to adopt and love Angel. He said, “My wife and I take in elderly and ill dogs, love them until they die and break our hearts, and then we do it all over again.” Amazing people.

 

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After Angel had been in her new home for two days mom and Nancy were invited to dinner. They were both absolutely shocked at how happy Angel was. Relaxed and carefree. I think pets know so much more than we think they do. While she was with my mom at Mike’s house, she was very depressed. But mom and Nancy were pleased to report that in her new home, where she doesn’t have to worry anymore, she was like a new pup!

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Then… mom’s wallet was stolen when they were out to dinner one of the nights. It is Reno after all. Probably one of the biggest pick pocket cities in the US next to Vegas and New Orleans. Luckily, she had her passport and after hours and hours of phone calls and stress, she was able to iron everything out and eventually get a flight home.

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Last night’s simple dinner. Salmon, quinoa, & steamed beets.

On our end, Tony got some kind of strange eye infection that was very painful. He wears extended wear contacts…which I think is a terrible idea for your eyes! I tried to tell him it was an infection at the very beginning and to go to the doctor…but do you think he would take my word for it? Of course not. Three days later after sleepless nights and a lot of pain, he finally went to the eye doctor and you know what she told him? You guessed it.

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This morning’s breakfast. Quinoa and salmon stuffed squash.

 

For me, January has been a cruddy health roller coaster. I’ve  had numerous horrible migraines and have been feeling under the weather. My focus for the beginning of the New Year was going to be on “rest and relaxation”after an extremely busy December. But you know how that goes. I hate to give into the “sick” and rest during the day.

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And because when it rains it pours, Romeo tore some ligaments in his right knee. He yelped on a hike we were on in the snow a few weeks ago but we couldn’t determine the issue. So we rested him for a few days and he seemed fine.

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About a week ago we were walking them and he was running around like a maniac in the snow of course, and he yelped again. Well, this time, he was definitely favoring one leg. We rested it for another few days with no improvement, and decided it was time to see the vet. They put him on “bed rest” for two weeks. A practically impossible feat.

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They are active dogs and we walk, hike, run, or mountain bike with them every day. Two weeks is a lifetime for all of us! While we were at the vet I also had the doc look at some growths on Abigail that we recently found. Turns out she’ll need those removed as well. In two weeks if Romeo’s knee is not greatly improved, then he’ll need surgery (and I’m assuming more “bed rest”) and Abigail will go in at the same time to have the growths removed.

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Not quite the January I would have planned for all of us of course, but as we all know, we aren’t the planners of this life. So instead of getting bogged down, we try to focus on the good of it all. With Mike, although he’ll be missed greatly, it was a blessing that mom and his children had each other for support and were able to be there to say goodbye. As my husband said in his prayer for Mike, “He was one of the good ones.” It’s also a blessing to be able to know that Mike’s best friend is being taken care of by trusted, loving, people.

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Our new favorite pizza place. Gluten free and dairy free options.

 

Mom’s wallet thing all worked out. And in the end, she said it was probably a blessing because had she still had her wallet and all of her cash she took down there with her, she would have stayed much longer to take care of Mike’s belongings, which would have been really hard on her as she and Mike were close, and all the kids had to go back home to work. So for now, it can all wait, and they can work on it together this summer.

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My faithful epsom bath companion.

With Tony’s eye, we can be thankful that it wasn’t serious, and be very thankful that we have insurance to pay for things like that. Another blessing.

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Breakfast yesterday. Homemade coconut milk yogurt with all kinds of goodies.

For me, the bright side is always, always….that things could be much worse health wise. I try really hard to take it one day at a time and focus on the good parts.

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As for the fur babies, every day we have with them is a tremendous blessing. And thankfully, Tony  has a good job and we have the means to help them when they need it.

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Though sometimes it feels like the stress outweighs the joy, if you pay close attention, there’s always good to focus on and things to be grateful for!

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Chocolate Chai Tea Latte

*Makes 2 servings

1 1/2 Cups of Filtered Water

2 Decaf Black Tea Bags

1/2 Cup of 100% Coconut Milk

1 ounce of Dark Chocolate

 2 teaspoons Chai Tea Spice Mix (see below)

1 teaspoon of Raw Honey

Chai Spice Mix: 

1 Small Jar

3 teaspoons of Turmeric

4 teaspoons of Cardamom

5 teaspoons of Cloves

4 teaspoons of Allspice

10 teaspoons of Cinnamon

7 teaspoons of Ginger

Measure all ingredients into a small bowl and whisk together until combined. Spoon into a storage jar.

Bring the filtered water to a boil in a small pan. Turn off heat and add tea bags, steep for 10 minutes. Remove bags, heat on medium and add the chocolate, coconut milk, and chai spices. Bring to a low boil, remove from heat and add honey.

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Toasted Coconut Pecan Toffee

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I’m knee-deep in Christmas preparations but never too busy to make a few favorites. I love the Christmas holiday and I look forward to the family traditions we’ve established over the years. One one of them of course, is holiday goodies. This year I veered off the grain free path to make our favorite gluten-free and dairy free gingerbread, sugar cookies, and pie dough cookies.

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I usually make a few different types of candy but just wanted to stick to one this year (maybe two if I have extra time) and settled on toffee. I really wanted to try to use coconut sugar as much as possible in the baking this year as it is one of healthier forms of unrefined sugar.

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I don’t have many toffee prep pictures for you because I burned the 1st batch so I kept an eagle eye on the 2nd batch and kept my spoon moving which made it impossible to take prep pictures. The first batch I didn’t add water and I cooked it the traditional way. Once it started boiling I didn’t stir it and allowed it to get to 280 or so. One second it was looking fantastic and I was sending pictures to my friend Kelly in Florida and to my husband where he was getting the car repaired….and the next second it was smoking and completely separated. It turned ugly very quickly. That’s what I get I guess for sending out pictures and boasting about my beautiful toffee!

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So the second batch I added a little water and stirred it the entire time. I also stayed off the phone and didn’t pay much attention to the thermometer. I just eyeballed it and about 10 seconds before I felt it was going to get too thick and burn I whisked it off the burner and poured it into the pan. Less than 8 minutes from the beginning of when it began to boil. Then I topped it with dairy free mini chocolate chips and toasted coconut and pecans and crossed my fingers that it would set up properly. Thankfully, it was a success and tastes wonderful! The coconut sugar gives it an extra strong toffee flavor and the color is a deep and rich, velvety brown.

Great for snacking and beautiful for gift giving.

Toasted Coconut Pecan Toffee

About 1/4 Cup of Unsweetened Shredded Coconut

About 1/3 Cup of Chopped Pecans

1 Cup of Dairy Free Butter

1 1/3 Cups of Coconut Sugar

1 Tablespoon of Water

1/4 teaspoon of Sea Salt

1/2 Cup of Miniature Dairy Free Chocolate Chips

Measure the coconut and chopped pecans into a large skillet and toast on medium heat until the coconut is golden and you can smell the nuts toasting. Set aside. Line a small baking sheet with parchment and set aside.

In a heavy pan or dutch oven, measure the sugar, butter, water, and salt. Heat on medium stirring constantly. It will take a couple of minutes for the sugar and butter to incorporate. Once it starts boiling, keep a good eye on it and stir it the entire time. You can use a thermometer but with the first batch I did, it was clear that coconut sugar and dairy free butter don’t need to get up to 280 to form toffee and if they do, they will likely burn and separate. I removed mine from the burner when it was getting very thick to the point where my spoon marks were remaining in the mixture as I stirred.

At the point where you pour it out of the pan, you’re going to have to work very quickly. Pour it and then pick up the pan to spread it around. Don’t use a spoon or spatula as it will glob up and stick. Then, sprinkle the chocolate chips over the top, wait for about 3 minutes and spread them out over the top of the toffee. Sprinkle with the coconut and pecan mixture and chill for 20-30 minutes to set.

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Chocolate Chip Gingersnaps

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I love gingersnaps and so does my husband. Especially this snowy time of year with a good cup of tea and a bit of coconut milk. I try to have a homemade treat available to snack on when he returns from traveling for work and this time it’s grain free gingersnaps.

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I’m working on creating more and more grain free recipes as even gluten free grains don’t agree with me much these days. If you’re just looking for a gluten free gingersnap recipe, you can find another very tasty one HERE.

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It took a couple attempts to make these work. Grain free baking is a challenge! With a few tweaks, the second batch turned out fantastic in texture and taste.

Crisp on the outside and chewy in the middle, and so aromatic. Your house will smell wonderful after you’ve baked them!

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Grain Free Chocolate Chip Gingersnaps

*Makes about 2o cookies

1/4 Cup of Spectrum Shortening

3/4 Cup of Coconut Sugar

1 Egg

4 Tablespoons of Unsulphured Molasses

2 teaspoons of Pure Vanilla Extract

1 teaspoon of Baking Soda

1/4 teaspoon of Sea Salt

1 1/2 teaspoons of Ground Ginger

1 1/2 teaspoons of Ground Cinnamon

1 teaspoon of Ground Cloves

1 Cup of Sweet Potato Flour

1/4 Cup of Arrowroot

1/2 Cup of Coconut Flour

1/4 Cup of Dairy Free Mini Chocolate Chips

Extra Coconut Sugar For Rolling & Pressing

Preheat oven to 350 degrees and line two baking sheets with parchment.

Place 2 Tablespoons of coconut sugar onto a small plate and set aside. In a mixer, beat the shortening until fluffy and scrape down bowl. Add the sugar and mix until combined. Add the egg, molasses, vanilla, baking soda, sea salt, ginger, cinnamon, and cloves. Mix until thoroughly combined. Add the sweet potato flour, arrowroot, and coconut flour and mix until thoroughly incorporated. Add the chocolate chips and mix until distributed. 

Refrigerate dough for 1 hour. Roll into balls, then roll in coconut sugar and press down with a fork.

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Bake for 7-9 minutes until golden and allow to rest on baking sheet for 3 minutes before removing with a spatula to a cooling rack.

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Cherry Chocolate Chip Granola with Caramelized Pecans & Walnuts

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You are not going to want to miss out on this granola.

It is full of dried cherries, mini chocolate chips, and caramelized pecans and walnuts. 

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This is my third and final granola recipe for the holiday season and it is FABULOUS!

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 The previous two recipes, Maple Almond Raisin Granola and Pumpkin Spice Granola with Medjool Dates are delicious as well, but this one…

…this one is the crown jewel. 

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Enjoy!

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Cherry Chocolate Chip Granola with Caramelized Pecans & Walnuts

*Preheat oven to 350 degrees

For The Nuts:

1 Cup of Walnut Halves

1 Cup of Pecan Halves

1 1/2 Cups of Coconut Sugar

2 Tablespoons of Dairy Free Butter

2 teaspoons of Pure Maple Syrup

1 Tablespoon of Ground Cinnamon

Generous Pinch of Sea Salt

Measure all ingredients into a medium frying pan (non stick!). Cook on medium stirring regularly until sugar is melted (but thick), and nuts are coated, about 7 minutes. Pour out onto a couple of sheets of parchment and immediately separate with two spoons. Allow to cool completely and then break apart the larger pieces. You will also have caramel that isn’t stuck to nuts. I broke that up as well and put it in the granola.

(**My nuts were still a little buttery after cooling so I moved them to a paper towel to soak up any excess that would otherwise take away from the crunch of the granola.)

For The Granola:

6 Cups of Gluten Free Oats

3 Tablespoons of Coconut Oil, melted

3/4 Cup of Pure Maple Syrup

1/4 teaspoon of Sea Salt

1 Cup of Dairy Free Mini Chocolate Chips

1 Cup of Dried Cherries

Caramelized Nuts

Measure the oats, coconut oil, maple syrup, and sea salt into a large roasting pan and stir until thoroughly combined. Bake in 10 minute increments until a small amount removed and cooled is golden and crisp. Mine took about 40 minutes. Pour out onto the counter onto to parchment to cool completely. Then pour into a bowl and stir in the chocolate chips, cherries, and caramelized nuts.

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Pumpkin Spice Granola with Medjool Dates

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Here’s a another fantastic granola to make for your family or share with friends for the holidays!

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Beautiful and golden and made the house smell so spicy and wonderful!

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Tomorrow I’ll post my third and last granola recipe for this holiday season. You can find the first one here.

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The dates add the perfect sweetness to the pumpkin and spice.

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Enjoy!

Pumpkin Spice Granola with Medjool Dates

*Preheat oven to 350 degrees

6 Cups of Gluten Free Rolled Oats

3/4 Cup of Coconut Sugar

1/8 Cup of Unsulphured Molasses

2 Tablespoons of Avocado Oil

2 Tablespoons of Pumpkin Pie Spice

1/4 teaspoon of Sea Salt

3/4 Cup Canned Plain Pumpkin

2 Tablespoons of Pure Vanilla Extract

20 Medjool Dates, seeded & chopped

Place all ingredients except the dates into a large roasting pan and stir thoroughly to combine. Bake in 10 minute increments until a small amount removed when cooled is golden and crispy. Mine took about 50 minutes. Pour out onto parchment paper and once it is cooled completely, poor into a bowl and stir in the dates.

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Maple Almond Raisin Granola

6 Comments

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I love granola.

It’s sweet, a bit salty, crispy, chewy. All great things in one.

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Plain, or with dairy free milk, or half and half if you can have dairy.

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On top of ice cream, on top of yogurt, over fruit, on a hike, in the car….It’s delicious any way or anywhere you choose to eat it.

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I can’t eat it often because grains and I don’t get along well, but over the next few days I’m making a small exception.

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Of course, someone has to be here as the taste tester, and that happens to be me!

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I’m going to bring you two more fabulous granola recipes over the next few days that you can make for your family or as gifts to give.

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This recipe was particularly tough for me to keep my hands off of because it happens to have candied almonds. Unbelievably good!

I could not stay away from them.

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In fact, they would make a nice gift all on their own if you didn’t eat them all before you were able to get them packaged.

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Granola is a great gift because most people love it, it’s easy to make, and your creative options are endless!

Candied Sliced Almonds

1 Cup of Sliced Almonds

3/4 Cup (kind of small-ish heaping) of Maple Sugar

1 1/2 Tablespoons of Dairy Free Butter

1 teaspoon of Pure Maple Syrup

Generous Pinch of Sea Salt

Measure the almonds, maple sugar, and butter into a small fry pan. I used my omelette pan so it wouldn’t have any chance of sticking. Turn the burner onto medium and toss and stir lightly until all of the butter is melted and the sugar begins to stick to the almonds. Drizzle in the maple syrup and throw in a good pinch of sea salt and continue to carefully toss. I like to cook mine about 7-9 minutes or so to ensure that the sugar is melting and sticking and will harden lightly when it cools. Keep an eye on it though so it doesn’t burn and turn down the heat a bit if necessary. Pour them out onto parchment and quickly separate them with two spoons. Allow to cool completely.

Maple Almond Raisin Granola

*Preheat oven to 350 degrees

6 Cups of Gluten Free Rolled Oats

3 Tablespoons of Avocado Oil

3/4 Cup of Pure Maple Syrup

1/4 Cup of Pure Maple Sugar

1/2 teaspoon of Sea Salt

1 Cup of Candied Sliced Almonds

1 Cup of Organic Raisins

Measure the oats, avocado, maple syrup, maple sugar, and sea salt into a large roasting pan and stir until completely combined. Bake in 7 minute increments stirring thoroughly  until it is toasted and golden in color. It took mine about 35 minutes and I use convection. A good way to test if it is crispy enough is to take a small spoonful and spread it out on the counter to cool. It will cool quickly, then taste test for crunch.

Once it’s crispy to your liking (I like mine lightly crispy), pour it out onto parchment paper on the counter and spread out to cool. When completely cooled, pour it into a large bowl, add the candied almonds and raisins, and stir until everything is distributed evenly.

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