Coconut, quinoa & cashew granola

During my senior year of college in the tiny town of Grinnell, Iowa, I lived with five other girls in a huge, rambling farmhouse on the edge of campus. Rent, if you can believe it, was under $200 a month. The house had creaky wood floors, no laundry, one working shower, and a terrifying basement I never set foot in (maybe there was laundry down there?!). I lived upstairs with Hannah, while Ellyn, Eliza, Carla, and Zoe lived downstairs. My room had five windows, two closets, and a small “office” (#RuralIowa). The tiny kitchen had about one square foot of counter space, but believe it or not, I couldn’t have cared less about food. While my housemates baked cookies and whipped up dinners that made the house smell heavenly, I was probably dipping Fritos in hummus in the student center grill. (You should try it sometime—it’s actually delicious.)

A few months ago, I got an email from Carla with a link to an old article from our college newspaper, the Scarlett & Black, describing our house dynamic and each member’s unique cooking style. Allow me to quote a particularly poetic paragraph:

While Leas cooks ‘random sh*t,’ Rodriguez’s style is ‘down home, whatever that means.’ Ochs likes ‘gourmet,’ but also ‘whatever’ and Eckland prefers ‘Southwest.’ Bauman enjoys a ‘Mediterranean diet’ and Mendel’s appetite can best be summarized by ‘cereal.’

…And, friends, it was true. I’ve always nurtured an undying love for cereal of all kinds, from Frosted Flakes and Reese’s Puffs to the “healthy” varieties called things like Harvest Yam Puffs and Ancient Maize Grains. I do not discriminate. My friends got used to me loading up my bowl with the dining hall’s signature granola and then methodically sorting through to remove the raisins one by one.

While I like to think my palate has developed slightly since my college years, I am still powerless before the supermarket cereal aisle. Luckily, I’ve figured out how to make granola at home to satisfy my nightly Cereal Course without all the terrifying additives, sugar, and unpronounceable ingredients. Made with olive oil, coconut oil, and maple syrup, this granola is nutty, crunchy, and toasty. It’s not too sweet, not too complicated, and has just a hint of salt. It’s perfect on greek yogurt or eaten by the handful from the jar. The key is toasting the ingredients before combining and baking them. This lends the whole thing a warm flavor and allows the coconut flakes to stay extra crunchy. (By “toasting,” I mean tossing in a skillet on high heat until golden.) Try it and let me know what you think!

Ingredients

  • 1 ¾ cups rolled oats
  • ½ cup sunflower seeds
  • ½ cup walnuts
  • ¾ cup unsweetened coconut flakes, toasted
  • ½ cup raw unsalted cashews, roughly chopped, toasted
  • 2 ½ tablespoons uncooked quinoa, toasted
  • ¼ cup + 1 tablespoon good quality olive oil
  • ¼ cup + 2 tablespoons real maple syrup
  • 1 tablespoon coconut oil, melted
  • Hearty pinch coarse salt

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 375°
  2. Combine all dry ingredients in a large mixing bowl and stir to. Add olive oil, maple syrup, and coconut oil and stir to incorporate evenly.
  3. Spread granola evenly on two baking trays and bake for 12 minutes, stirring thoroughly every 5 minutes. Keep an eye on the granola to make sure it doesn’t get too dark. You want a nice, toasty, golden brown, so if this happens before 12 minutes, feel free to take it out early.
  4. Remove trays  from oven and place on racks to cool. Stir one more time and allow granola to cool completely before snacking storing.

Little Sister Links:

  1. “Eat what you love.” This Great British Bake Off alum is preaching some serious words to live by
  2. For those who geek out on the subject of caramelizing onions
  3. Have you ever baked a babka? This one’s at the top of my list!
  4. Also on my list is this mysterious 3-ingredient stovetop mac’n’cheese that comes together in under 10 minutes. Can you guess the secret ingredient?
  5. Currently my favorite snap on the internet.

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