Totally addicting Granola (and some thoughts on snacking)

I think I might have a problem. 

A snacking problem. 

Nate and I are getting ready to leave on a trip to Italy this weekend and I have an entire duffel packed full of snacks. 

If you are anything like my hubby, you are wondering why I am packing so many snacks  for a trip to the land of some of the best food there is.

I admit that I can be an over-planner and over-preparer at times, but I don't think I am being all that unreasonable this time. Let me explain myself. 

I fully intend to indulge in all Italy has to offer in the way of food and drink (and everything else). I plan to enjoy the included breakfast at our hotels, pastries included. I plan to taste everything during our day long cooking experience in Amalfi. I plan to get wine with most meals. And I plan to eat gelato, multiple times.

What I don't plan to do is snack on junk food during the long flight over or the transfers in between cities. This is where it is easy to find yourself in a pinch and buy a package of nutritionally-void cookies or chips. I also don't plan to get "hangry" during our day long trip to Capri and Anacapri so I will have a purse full of a few goodies in case we are in a bind. By fueling myself properly during the times when we aren't having a true Italian meal experience, I can actually enjoy the indulgent food and drinks we are having, guilt-free. 

While this is my thought process while preparing for a big trip, my thought process isn't all that different on a daily basis. There is rarely a time when I leave the house without a snack in my purse. I might not always eat it, but it's always there, just in case.  

So, what's in my snack bag (er, suitcase)? 

- Apples: satisfying, hydrating, fiber-filled, durable, and relatively mess-free

- Clementines: easy to peel, provides a dose of vitamin C to fend of inflight germs, hydrating, and relatively mess-free

- Sulfate-free dried mango: a sweet treat, no added sugar or preservatives, fiber-filled

- Individual packets of trail-mix: satisfying healthy fat and protein for an inflight or midday snack. Easy to pack in my purse. 

- Individual packets of pita chips: not much nutritional value here but the windy drives along the Amalfi Coast might call for a salty snack to settle our stomachs. 

- Larabars: I love these! These bars are filled with real ingredients. Check the label and you will see nothing but dried fruit and nuts in these guys. Easy to pack in my purse for a day of touring. 

- Totally Addicting Granola: Filled with whole foods, this is a great addition to some yogurt in the airport or to snack on straight out of the bag. The hearty ingredients provide you with satisfying fiber, healthy fat, and protein. 

I also plan to drink plenty of water to stay hydrated on the flight over. 

Totally Addicting Granola

Makes about 6 cups

2 3⁄4 cups rolled oats

1/2 cup shelled pistachios

1/2 cup walnut halves

1 cup unsweetened coconut chips

1/3 cup pumpkinseeds

3/4 teaspoon salt

1/3 cup light brown sugar

1/4 cup maple syrup

1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil

3⁄4 cup dried sour cherries (optional)

1. Preheat oven to 300. In a large bowl, mix together the oats, pistachios, walnuts, coconut, pumpkinseeds and salt.

2. In a small saucepan set over low heat, warm the sugar, syrup and olive oil until the sugar has just dissolved, then remove from heat. Pour over oat mixture and stir until all ingredients are well-coated. 

3. Line a large rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper or a silicone baking mat, and spread granola over it. Bake until dry and lightly golden, 35 to 40 minutes, stirring granola a few times along the way.

4. Remove granola from oven, and mix into it the dried sour cherries, if using. Allow to cool to room temperature before transferring to a storage container.