Staff Recipe Favorites: Orange & Pepita Granola

One of the big perks of working at BenBella is getting to check out all of the scrumptious new cookbooks. With so many talented authors on our roster, it’s easy to end up experimenting a lot in the kitchen and developing fresh culinary favorites. In the Staff Recipe Favorites column, we’ll be sharing some of the best-loved employee eats. We hope you enjoy as much as we do! See previous posts here.


Staff RecommenderScreen Shot 2015-04-21 at 2.14.38 PM

Heather Butterfield, Editor


Orange & Pepita Granola from YumUniverse, by Heather Crosby

Thoughts from Heather

As my friends and family could tell you, I’m a sweets girl through and through. Always have been. Nothing would make me happier than if I were able to eat dessert for every meal, including breakfast, without suffering health consequences (and a stomachache).

Naturally, as a kid with a sweet tooth like mine, things like Lucky Charms and Pop-Tarts were incredibly tempting breakfast foods. Luckily—or not so luckily, as my eight-year-old self would tend to think—I grew up in a health-conscious household where these foods were reserved for special occasions, and things like quinoa and amaranth hot cereal were more regularly served.

Though I’ve grown to appreciate healthy foods, sometimes my inner kid just wants something a little more special and sweet. Enter the Orange & Pepita Granola. Don’t get me wrong: this granola is still a healthy, whole food breakfast, but the subtle orange flavor and sweet maple syrup hit the spot. It’s become a staple in my cupboard; a recipe I make in big batches a couple of times a month.

I love how flexible the recipe is. I’d even go so far as to say it’s foolproof. Once while making it, I realized at the last minute that I had run out of rolled oats, but I did have a big batch of steel-cut that I substituted. It made the granola a little crunchier, and I also had to break it up into pieces with my hands once it cooled, but it was still super tasty.

I love a big bowl topped with coconut milk and berries for breakfast. One of these days I’d also like to try Crosby’s recommendation of serving it atop her Easy Vanilla Bean Ice Cream (recipe also in YumUniverse).

Make it Yourself


Yields: 10+ servings


3/4 cup maple syrup
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

3 cups rolled oats
1 cup shredded coconut
1 cup pumpkin seeds
1 cup almonds, roughly chopped
Zest from 2 navel oranges
1 teaspoon sea salt
Pinch ground cardamom


  1. Preheat oven to 300°F.
  2. In a small bowl, stir together wet ingredients.
  3. In a large bowl, toss together dry ingredients.
  4. Add wet ingredients to dry and fold well.
  5. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper (or just one—you can split the batch, baking one half at a time).
  6. Bake the granola for 20–25 minutes. Granola should look slightly browned and toasted.
  7. Remove from oven and repeat if you are splitting your batch. Granola will harden as it cools.

Psst! Don’t overcrowd your baking sheet—you want granola evenly spread across the sheet about 1/4″ tall. Overcrowding leads to uneven toasting. If you bake and the edges of granola are browned but the center is not, you may have overcrowded the pan. Simply remove the toasted granola, spread the untoasted around the pan, and bake longer.

I made a version of this granola to serve the Art Campers at Camp Wandawega in Wisconsin one summer and added 2 teaspoons of orange blossom water to the wet ingredients before baking. I highly recommend it if you can find some—wowza.

Serve over dairy-free vanilla ice cream, chia pudding, or with homemade non-dairy milk.

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February 2024

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