Low-Waste Bikepacking: Emma’s Gracious Granola
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Winter is upon us, and for many, it’s “lockdown-season” too. Why not use this enforced downtime to hone your culinary skills for the coming spring? Tasty, nutty, fruity granola never fails to make an energy-packed start to the day. The very best is homemade, so try baking a batch of Emma’s Gracious Granola for your next local overnighter. Find the full, easy-to-follow recipe here, along with variations on a theme for bikepacking foodies…
Some bikepackers love their morning pastry whilst on tour, be it a bear claw in the US or a pain au chocolat in Europe. Others are coffee connoisseurs. When it comes to breakfast, I consider myself a dedicated granola enthusiast and I sample local blends whenever I can. In fact, granola is one of my preferred choices on my menu of ideal bikepacking fare, second only to a good quality nut butter. Speaking of which, did you check out our accompanying recipe for Energy Balls yet?
Trouble is, the really good stuff is generally made by small companies using high-quality ingredients, which means it’s often costly and difficult to find outside cities. Cheaper big brand varieties are either loaded with ladlefuls of refined sugar or cheap wheat is used to bulk them up, both of which are less energy-rich and no friend to those who want to reduce inflammatory foods in their diet.
So, why not make your own? Investing 45 minutes of your time (plus an hour to let it cool) into doing so is not only a way of enjoying a delicious, affordable, and energy-packed breakfast, but it also means you can adjust your granola to taste, diet, and ingredient availability. Gluten-free? Use appropriate oats. Lactose intolerant? Lace in dehydrated coconut powder instead of milk. Hate pecans? Choose almonds! Or, just make the most of what’s local to wherever you live or where you’re travelling.
Anyway, I consider Emma’s Gracious Granola an excellent base blend from which to work, in part because it uses coconut oil, which packs it with the kind of fats your body often craves whilst bikepacking. Plus, local honey or maple syrup as sweeteners are far more beneficial to your system than the cheap sugar found in commercially made granola. As a final flourish, sea salt helps offset its ensuing sweetness and will set you up for a day of sweaty climbs too.
It’s also relatively easy to make granola without creating too much waste. All you need is a bulk store and access to an oven, which means you can even cook up a 10-portion batch if you spend the night in a hostel. Trust me, it’s well worth the weight! If you’re based at home for a while, put aside a few rations in the freezer for an overnighter or weekend campout before you gobble it all down. And if you don’t end up using it for breakfast on your next campout, a handful of Gracious Granola in your feedbag is great for snacking on too!
Granola Recipe Ingredients (~10 servings)
- 4 cups of whole oats
- 2 cups raw chopped nuts and/or lightly roasted unsalted seeds (a combination of almonds, pecans, and sunflower seeds works really well)
- 3/4 cup of melted coconut oil
- 1/2 cup of raw honey and/or maple syrup
- 1 teaspoon of sea salt
- 1 teaspoon cinnamon (optional)
- 3/4 cup chopped dried fruit (cranberries are great)
What to do
1. Preheat oven to 350°F (176°C). Line a large baking sheet with a reusable silicone baking mat if you want to avoid serious scraping at the end, or just leave it bare and use it as a chance to build your biceps.
2. In a large mixing bowl, combine oats, chopped nuts/seeds, salt, and cinnamon. Mix well.
3. Melt the coconut oil and honey/maple syrup in a pot, then stir it in until every oat and nut is glistening happily.
4. Pour the resulting mixture onto a large sheet pan and spread it out evenly across the surface.
5. Pop the pan into the preheated oven and bake for a total of 21 to 24 minutes, taking it out to stir thoroughly every 7 to 8 minutes. Burnt granola is a travesty, so be sure to set a timer! Also, if you like clumpy granola, pat down the mixture into the pan firmly after the last stir.
6. Take the tray out of the oven and sprinkle dried fruit on top, such as cranberries. Let the granola cool completely (which takes about an hour or so) before scraping it off the pan. Store in an air-tight container (a large glass jar with a lid works well) to keep it crunchy, or if you’re riding, stash some portions in a re-usable plastic bag, like a zip-lock.
Variations on a granola theme
There are many variations you can try with this simple recipe. Adding coconut flakes or dark chocolate morsels – after the granola is completely cool – are just a couple of ideas. We like to work in some dehydrated coconut milk, so all it needs in the morning is some water and a good stir.
If you manage to safely transport a banana to your chosen camp spot, slicing it up and adding it in is, in my opinion, the icing on the cake. Okay, maybe you can go one better by sprinkling your Gracious Granola with some wild blueberries or wineberries. Or, go next-level-fancy and treat yourself to a serving of natural or Greek yoghurt for a true glampacking start to the day.
Otherwise, just add water, enjoy breakfast, and savour the view!
With thanks to Emma Bucke for sharing this recipe, honed over years of fine dining in the great outdoors.