My friend, Marilyn Cothren, is a cancer survivor of many years and to that end has worked to make her diet healthier in the time since. Along with exercise, one of her special recipes has been her homemade granola, a breakfast favorite.

There are lots of homemade granola recipes around and they are easy to adapt to slow cooking. It is also easy to add a few of your personal favorite ingredients if they fit in the overall picture. Add some flax seed or pumpkin seed if you like. Some suggest adding dried cranberries at the end of cook time.

Be sure you pay attention when purchasing the sunflower seeds. You are looking for sunflower seed kernels or the seeds without the shells.

After the granola is cooled completely, store in an airtight container. Cothren keeps hers about two weeks.

The secret to slow cooking a granola recipe is the same one I use when cooking my adapted Chex mix. At a certain point, turn the cooker to High and remove the lid. Stir every half-hour or so at that point in order to promote crispness.

Cothren uses the granola to make a beautiful parfait by pairing it with fresh fruit and yogurt. She says the recipe can easily be halved if desired.

Julie Kay is a columnist for The Advocate. She can be reached at