A mere decade ago, I was simply interested in eating healthier. But as time passed, I started studying labels, reading books about food, cooking all the time, learning on the internet, the television, anywhere I could.
Then a few years back, in an effort to remove harmful items (preservatives, MSG, additives) from our diet, I started making my own taco seasoning (you know, the old-school American tacos our moms made us!) It was seriously so easy to make, I couldn’t believe I had not tried it earlier! Next came marinara, salad dressings, pizza dough, ice cream, popsicles, pancake mix, waffle mix, bread crumbs, croutons, granola bars — a whole rash of other pantry staples that were honestly quite fun to make, not to mention almost less effort than buying and certainly healthier!
Now, I’ve always been a “cereal for breakfast” kind of girl and one morning I sat and read the ingredients in our (healthful) cereal boxes and just thought, “I can do better than this.” So, I started making my own granola. I realize that literally every food blogger out there has a granola recipe online, but as I want to keep this real, it was then that I decided I wanted to expand on this idea of making even more of the essential items I keep in my kitchen.Thus the minimalist pantry was born. Other things to try would be:Yogurt, Butter, Ketchup, Mustard, Mayonnaise, Pickles, Crackers, Stock, Pasta, Tortillas, Nut butters, Applesauce, and Jam. But back to the granola…. I’ve been making this recipe for several years now. I’ve substituted oil for butter, used various sweeteners (honey, maple syrup, brown rice syrup, agave), added seeds, different fruits, spices, etc. It’s pretty hard to mess up, unless you overcook or undercook it. It’s a keeper for sure!
Minimalist Pantry Granola
- 8 cups of old-fashioned rolled oats (or 2 lb bag) (note: gluten free work fine)
- 2 cup of unsweetened, desiccated coconut flakes
- 2 cups of sliced almonds
- 2 cups of coarsely chopped pecans
- 6 TBL of brown sugar (this can be omitted if you use 1 cup of liquid sweetener, see below)
- 1 1/2 tsps of ground ginger (substitutes: nutmeg, allspice, etc.)
- 3 tsps of cinnamon
- 3/4 tsp of sea salt (generous)
- 1 cup of Safflower, Coconut or Olive oil (substitute: butter)
- 2/3 cup of brown rice syrup (substitutes: honey, maple syrup, agave, or a combo of these.)
- Dried fruits (I prefer cherries, but cranberries, raisins, apricots, currants, etc will all work.)
- Preheat oven to 300º F.
- Line 3 baking sheets with parchment paper.
- In a very large bowl, stir together all of the dry ingredients except for the dried fruit.
- Add the oil and syrup to the dry mixture and stir to evenly disperse.
- Divide and spread the mixture equally onto the 3 lined baking sheets (preferably jelly roll style.)
- Using three racks equally spread out in your oven, bake each sheet pan for 10 minutes on each rack (alternating them in three 10 minute intervals.)
- Bake for a total of 30 minutes or until deep golden brown. Do not undercook! Do not burn.
- Allow to cool completely. If it got a little browner than you'd like, remove the parchment from the pan for cooling. (I've even left mine out overnight and it was fine. It crisps up into larger pieces as it cools.)
- Pour into an airtight container and add the dried fruit(s), mixing to combine.
- Store in the refrigerator or freezer.
- This recipe has been doubled. It feeds our family of 4 for breakfast for approximately 7-10 days.
- Brown rice syrup creates the best large/chunky pieces of granola. Although my favorite combo lately has been using olive oil and maple syrup.