The third batch, a compromise between the two, was just right. Oil makes the bars chewy, but I used as little as I could get away with. I replaced some of the maple syrup with brown rice syrup, another natural sweetener with the thickness of honey and a mild caramel flavor that doesn't dominate the granola. I tossed in a variety of seeds rich in nutrients and essential fatty acids: pumpkin seeds for protein and copper, sesame for calcium and zinc, sunflower seeds for vitamin E, and omega-3-rich flax seeds to help bind the granola. You'll be proud of yourself for eating these satisfying snacks that showcase local, seasonal maple syrup.
3 cups oats
1/2 cup coconut
1/2 cup chopped nuts (I used pecans)
1/2 cup dried fruit (cranberries, cherries, or raisins)
1/2 cup pepitas (hulled pumpkin seeds)
1/4 cup sesame seeds
1/4 cup sunflower seeds
1/4 cup ground flax seeds
3/4 cup Maine maple syrup
1/4 cup brown rice syrup
1/4 cup vegetable oil
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 tsp salt
Heat the oven to 325F. On a baking sheet, combine the oats, coconut, and chopped nuts, and toast for 15 minutes, stirring every five minutes to ensure even toasting. Once toasted, combine the oat mixture with the seeds and dried fruit in a large bowl.
In a small saucepan over medium-low heat, whisk together the maple syrup, brown rice syrup, oil, vanilla, cinnamon, and salt until evenly combined. Remove from heat and pour over the dry ingredients. Stir until uniformly coated.
The granola will not be set firmly when it comes out of the oven. Let it sit undisturbed in the baking dish for at least 6 hours. This is hard, because it will smell wonderful, but it must cool completely before being cut into bars. When ready to cut, use the overhanging parchment paper to lift the granola out of the baking dish and onto a cutting board. Cut into 10-12 bars and store in an airtight container.