With COVID-19 cases back on the rise, the daily quarantine routine might be starting to drag on and on (and on and on) for a lot of us. One of my favorite ways to break up the routine is by spending time in the kitchen and making something out of the food I stocked up on at the beginning of quarantine.
I always keep versatile pantry items like oats, nuts, and seeds on hand, especially since these are the base ingredients for my favorite go-to recipe - a simple and delicious homemade granola. Granola has been a staple stay-at-home snack since it’s easy to make, and it’s packed with nutrients. Oats are a great source of soluble fiber, which helps lower cholesterol levels. Nuts and seeds provide healthy fats, fiber, protein, iron, magnesium, and zinc.
Another reason to make granola is that it can be enjoyed in so many ways:
- Sprinkle some on top of yogurt for added crunch and protein
- Top it off with milk and sliced banana for a quick and fiber-filled breakfast
- Oats on oats! Add some granola to oatmeal for extra fiber and flavor
- Savory granola can be tossed into salads or used as a garnish for soups
The best thing about making granola at home is that you can customize it with whatever you have on hand. Don’t like almonds? Substitute it with pecans or pistachios. Ran out of dried cranberries? Use dried mango instead! Don’t have maple syrup? Honey works too!
When I’m feeling more experimental in the kitchen, I like to add more flavor by adding a scoop of peanut butter, tossing in some coconut chips, or sprinkling in some cocoa powder. Have fun in the kitchen and discover your own flavor combinations! The possibilities are endless!
Pantry Staple Granola
3 cups old-fashioned rolled oats (don't swap these out for quick oats since these will give the granola a more powdery texture)
1/4 cup of neutral oil (canola oil, olive oil for savory granola, or melted coconut oil)
1 cup of raw almonds
1/4 cup of raw pumpkin seeds
1/2 cup of dried cranberries
1/2 cup of maple syrup
pinch of salt
1/2 tsp of cinnamon (optional)
1/4 cup chia seeds (optional)
1. Preheat the oven to 300°F and line a rimmed baking pan with parchment paper.
2. In a large bowl, add and mix the oats, almonds, pumpkin seeds, salt, and cinnamon (optional).
3. Add in the maple syrup and oil and stir until oats, almonds, and seeds until all are evenly coated.
4. Pour the granola mixture onto the prepared baking pan and spread it out in an even layer.
5. Bake for 24-30 minutes or until the oats are golden brown, making sure to stir the granola every 8 to 10 minutes for even cooking. The granola will appear wet, but it will dry out as it cools.
(For chunkier granola: don’t stir the granola as often while it is baking. To help the granola stick together, pack down the mixture as it cools completely.)
6. Let the granola cool completely (about 30 to 40 minutes) before gently breaking it apart with a spoon.
7. Mix in the dried cranberries and chia seeds (optional).
8. Store granola in an air-tight container in a cool, dry place for 2 to 3 weeks.
Catrina is pursuing her M.S. in Nutrition and completing her dietetic internship through Texas Woman’s University. She hopes to one day combine her passion for food and nutrition with her love for helping others as a registered dietitian. She enjoys trying out new recipes, practicing Pilates, and spending time with her dog, Lucy.
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