Crunchy Granola & Variations

There's only one thing vegetarians, vegans, carnivores and even paleo eaters never disagree on: Granola. Crunchy, salty and open to a vast well of interpretations, this epic breakfast, snack and topper-of-all-things is so simple to master, there's really only one question to answer before making it: What's your signature blend?

In addition to launching countless granola companies, that question is the reason so many incredible blends of grains, fruits and flavors occupy store shelves. But why leave all the fun to the entrepreneurs? Successfully inventing your own signature granola is as easy as remembering a simple ratio and a few rules of thumb. Here's the breakdown:

Everyday granola is a mix of three elements: Dry ingredients, wet ingredients and heat. "Dry ingredients" represent a blend of oats, seeds, nuts and your other favorite grains. "Wet ingredients" represent a mix of fats and sweeteners (which in granola function best as liquids like coconut oil, maple syrup, or liquid coconut nectar). Pairing the wet and dry ingredients at a steady ratio of 6:1 ensures your dry ingredients are perfectly coated with just enough wet stuff to do their crunchy bidding, brought out by a few rounds in a 300F oven.

Put in practice, that 6:1 ratio can inspire hundreds of different recipes, but every single one of them will represent six parts dry ingredients, and one part wet ingredients (for example, 3 cups total oats, grains, seeds and nuts to 1/2 cup total  liquid fats and sweetener). There are only two good rules of thumb to both keep things simple and maximize the flavors of your final ingredients:

1) Seasonings like salt or cinnamon don't need to be included in your total dry ingredient measurements. It's too complex and won't make a real difference in the final product.

2) If you're using things like dried or dehydrated fruit, chocolate chunks, or other components (bacon, perhaps?) whose flavors won't be enhanced by toasting, mix them in after the oat blend has come out of the oven. Since you're mixing them in after baking, these ingredients also don't need to be included in your 6:1 ratio.

Got it? Awesome. Here's a recipe to get you started, but we hope you feel confident enough to riff on it until your signature granola is perfected. 


Cocoa Cabanana Granola

2 cups rolled oats

1/2 cup raw almonds, roughly chopped

1/2 cup pistachios

1/4 cup coconut oil

1/4 cup coconut nectar syrup

1 tsp vanilla extract

1 tbsp unsweetened cocoa powder

1/2 tsp salt

1/2 cup dried pineapple, roughly chopped

1/2 cup dried bananas, roughly chopped

1/4 cup raw cocoa nibs


1. Preheat oven to 300F. Line a rimmed cookie sheet with parchment paper and set aside.

2. In a large bowl, mix oats, almonds, pistachios, cocoa powder and salt. Add coconut nectar, oil and vanilla and stir thoroughly, until dry ingredients are evenly coated. 

3. Spread mixture evenly on prepared baking sheet. Bake for 30-45 minutes total, stirring every 10-15 minutes. 

4. When granola is toasted to your taste, remove from oven. Allow to cool slightly, then add dried pineapple, bananas and cocoa nibs and stir to blend. Cool completely and store in an airtight container for up to 2 weeks.




Maple Ginger Pumpkin Butter

This easy, homemade pumpkin butter is excellent on toast, killer on pancakes or waffles, and even makes a great topping for greek yogurt.

Has anyone else ever wished pumpkin butter tasted a little more like – butter? Call me clueless, but as a kid I never stopped wanting each bite to taste like the seasonal output of an exotic, gourd eating cow. Of course, the reality was something much closer to gourmet applesauce, and while still tasty, it was just – missing something. Something like, you know, butter. 

Which I guess is why a lot of people eat their pumpkin butter with butter – a perfectly fine solution, but one that the idealist in me can't help but want to tinker with. Because it seems to me that a purée is a purée, and a butter is a butter. And if we're really going to call this pumpkin butter, well, we need to add some. And maybe some freshly ground ginger and lemon peel, just because we can.

This recipe is super simple: All the ingredients go in one pan, where they're whisked together then simmered over low heat for about 20 minutes before finishing with just enough butter to add depth, but not a ton of extra calories. One batch will make about two small jam jars worth of pumpkin butter, which you can keep yourself or give away as hostess gifts or other small offerings once the holiday rounds pick up. The butter is excellent on toast, incredible on pancakes or waffles, and it even makes a great topping for greek yogurt. Here, we boil it down to a thick but spreadable consistency, but if you keep going you can reduce it further to a topping for a pumpkin pie cheesecake or other layered dessert. Lastly, don't hesitate to fold some into whipped cream for a killer pumpkin mousse.

One final note about the simmering stage: This is a thick sauce, so be extra careful with safety while it's cooking. Those bubbles can fling off some very hot splashes, so covering the pot partially is not a bad idea, nor is being very careful when you stir to keep your hand and arms protected. 

Maple Ginger Pumpkin Butter

1 15oz can of pumpkin

1/2 cup apple juice

1/4 cup maple syrup

1/2 cup granulated coconut flower nectar

1 tbsp lemon juice

1 tsp lemon peel

2 tsp freshly grated ginger

1 tsp cinnamon

1/4 tsp nutmeg

1/4 tsp cloves

Pinch of salt

1/4 cup butter 

1. With the exception of the salt and the butter, place all ingredients in a medium saucepan and stir well to combine. Over medium-low heat, cook until mixture starts to boil, stirring regularly.

2. Reduce heat to low, and partially cover the pot with a lid to guard from splashes. Allow to simmer for 20 minutes, stirring regularly so the mixture doesn't burn.

3. Remove pan from heat; add butter and salt. Whisk carefully until the butter is fully incorporated and the pumpkin butter has a sheen. Transfer to heat-proof containers and allow to cool. Cover and store in refrigerator.