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One of my passions, besides sharing the message of real food, is teaching people how to cook. And I’m not just talking about teaching people how to cook special recipes. I’m talking about basic, flavorful, versatile cooking skills.
When you learn how to cook, as in how to prepare basic homemade foods and cooking techniques, you’re able to stop relying on the need for a recipe. When you know how to mix together a few simple ingredients to make muffins or pancakes, or how to cook a whole chicken, you experience a sense of freedom and also limitless possibility in the kitchen. Freedom from the need to rely on other people, recipes, boxes, and packages to prepare meals. And limitless possibility to use a variety of ingredients to adapt and customize basic meals.
That’s why I’ve started sharing recipes titled, “master recipe: one recipe, multiple possibilities.” I want to share the basic recipes and techniques that I lean on as real food foundations in my kitchen. The recipes that I turn to when I want to make muffins or pancakes or granola, or when cooking a whole chicken or making a salad dressing. I want to share my master recipes and also share how to customize the master using a variety of pantry, fridge, and sometimes freezer ingredients.
I’m sharing these “master” recipes to show you that eating real food can be incredibly simple and budget-friendly. You don’t need a ton of different ingredients or cookbooks or recipes to make really good food at home.
I think many of us are overwhelmed by the amount of recipes available today. We are crippled with decision fatigue when looking at Pinterest or the cookbook section in stores, and this is reflected in our frustration with meal planning and also not knowing what to eat.
I know, I share a lot of recipes. I get that. This probably sounds hypocritical. I love trying special recipes, and finding new meals to prepare. But, I think there’s something to be said for simplifying, and having a solid “go-to” list of master recipes we can rely on over and over again. There’s something so freeing about knowing the basics of real food cooking.
Today’s recipe is another “master recipe.” With just a few basic ingredients you can make really good granola at home. Knowing how to make your own granola is empowering and freeing. You don’t have to rely on packaged granola, unless you want to due to time or you just love a particular brand.
The master recipe is made with just five ingredients: rolled oats, nuts and/or seeds, salt, olive oil, and maple syrup. From this base recipe, you can add any customizations desired. Want a chunky granola, like granola clusters? Add an egg white to the mixture to bind the dry ingredients while baking. Want dried fruit in your granola? Add some at the end, once the granola has finished baking. Want chocolate in your granola? Add cacao nibs (so good!). Want a unique flavor combo? Add cinnamon or pumpkin pie spice or ginger. The possibilities are endless!
Also, granola is the best kind of prep-ahead/make-ahead food. Once you make a batch of granola, store some away in the freezer or the fridge. The granola will keep for months in a cool spot. This means you can make a batch of granola once on the weekend, and enjoy this homemade treat over and over again for breakfast, a late night snack (with yogurt and frozen fruit–my favorite dessert), or pack some granola in the school lunchbox (also with yogurt and fruit).
I would love to hear about the customized granola options you love making. Comment below and tell me what customizations you’re loving!
Master Homemade Granola Recipe: One Recipe, Multiple Possibilities
A homemade granola recipe you can customize to make your own. Use the base recipe, and then choose any spice, dried fruit, or nuts/seeds desired. One base granola recipe with multiple possibilities.
Preheat the oven to 300F. Line a rimmed sheet pan with parchment paper.
In a large bowl, combine the oats, nuts and/or seeds, and salt. Add any additional mix-ins from the list (see below: Additional Mix-Ins).
Add the olive oil and maple syrup to a medium bowl. If you’d like a chunkier granola, add an egg white to this mixture. Whisk to combine the liquid ingredients. Pour the liquid ingredients over the dry ingredients, and stir to combine.
Spread the granola over the parchment paper. Bake the granola for 45 minutes, or until toasted, golden, and fragrant.
Once the granola has been removed from the oven, stir in the dried fruit, if using. If you want a chunkier granola, don’t stir the granola when it's warm. For a chunkier granola, let the granola rest until slightly cool and then break into chunks, then add any dried fruit desired.
Enjoy the granola warm, or allow it to cool before storing the granola in containers. The granola will keep on the counter for about a week, in the fridge for a few weeks, or in the freezer for up to 6 months.
*Nut and/or Seed Options:
For large nuts, you may want to chop the nuts.
**Dried Fruit Options:
Chopped and pitted dates
Cinnamon--1 tsp, or to taste
Cardamom--1 tsp, or to taste
Pumpkin pie spice--1 tsp, or to taste
Ground Nutmeg--only use ¼-½ tsp to taste
Ground Clove--only use ¼ tsp to taste
Ground Ginger--only use ¼-½ tsp to taste
I also love to mix spices. For examples: 1 tsp cinnamon, ½ tsp ginger, and ¼ tsp nutmeg. Add the spice or spices of your choice, and taste as you stir--adding more spice if desired.
Additional Mix-Ins (add when mixing the dry ingredients before baking):
1 cup coconut flakes
½ cup cacao nibs--You can also use chocolate chips instead of cacao nibs. Wait to add the chocolate chips until after the granola bakes and cools. Cacao nibs won’t melt, so they can be added before baking the granola. Chocolate chips will melt.
1/4-1/2 cup chia seeds, flax meal, or hemp hearts