A good granola is hard to find. The supermarket selection, no matter what the flavor or brand — organic or otherwise — tastes like stale oat flakes. And the proliferation of low fat granolas — don't even bother with those, unless you enjoy snacking on sweetened cardboard. Sure, there are tasty, crunchy, sweet mixes out there. Euro Pane and The La Brea Bakery make rich, nutty blends. You might also enjoy the unique flavors, small-batch quality and the frisson of a clandestine cereal pick-up from The Granola Project. But, if you eat granola everyday, those whole-grain-fruit-and-nut treats could prove a pretty pricey habit.

Making granola is easy. The process is usually two-fold; combining oats, seeds, nuts and fruit with a syrup made from brown sugar, molasses, honey or agave sweetener and then toasting the mixture to golden brown perfection in the oven. In the following recipe egg whites are used to create a good clump-factor and a crisp, clean crunch without adding too much sugar or fat, and judging by the aforementioned abundance of low-fat granolas, people care about that. Walnut oil (the roasted kind from La Tourangelle) adds toasty walnut flavor and helps with the browning. Ground flax seed meal is added for even more nutty goodness and for a jolt of Omega-3's. Honey is drizzled and dates are strewn over the mix towards end of baking to lend just the right amount of sweetness, chew and stick. So no, this is not vegan granola, but omnivores like granola too, especially when sprinkled over plain yogurt and sliced, ripe strawberries.

granola; Credit: Jeanne Kelley

granola; Credit: Jeanne Kelley

Oat-Walnut Granola

From: Jeanne Kelley

Note: This recipe adapts easily. If almonds and dry cherries are more to your tastes, substitute almond oil, almonds and cherries for the walnut oil, walnuts, raisins or dates. Hazelnut and figs with hazelnut oil and a pinch of anise seed is a good mix too. For heavy users, this recipe doubles and triples well.

Makes: About 6 cups.

3/4 cup firmly packed golden or dark brown sugar

1/4 cup egg whites (about 2 large egg whites)

2 tablespoons roasted walnut oil, plus more for brushing

1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

3 cups old-fashioned oats

1 cup walnut halves, coarsely chopped

1/2 cup flax seed meal (available from Bob's Red Mill)

3/4 cup pitted dates, coarsely chopped or torn into pieces

½ cup raisins

1/4 cup honey

1. Preheat the oven to 350°F. Generously brush a heavy large rimmed baking sheet with walnut oil.

2. Whisk the brown sugar, egg whites, walnut oil and salt in large bowl until well blended. Add the oats, walnuts and flax seed meal; mix well.

3. Spread the mixture in an even layer on the prepared baking sheet. Bake the granola until it is beginning to turn brown at the edges, about 15 minutes.

4. Using a metal spatula, stir the granola. Bake until almost evenly golden brown, about 15 minutes and stir well. Sprinkle the dates and raisins over the granola and drizzle evenly with the honey.

5. Continue baking the granola until it is golden brown about 15 minutes longer. Stir the granola to loosen and cool completely. (Granola can be made up to 2 weeks ahead. Store it in an airtight container.)

Jeanne Kelley is a Los Angeles cook and cookbook author, who also writes at Jeanne Kelley Kitchen. Or follow her on her Tumblr.

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