Give Peace A Chance Walnut Granola


I remember exactly when the name for this recipe came to me: 29 November 2001. Late that afternoon, John Lennon stopped by for a beer and after tasting the granola I had just finished baking, generously offered the use of his favorite song title as a name for my recipe. John spoke earnestly, so it was no surprise to me, after making his offer, that he continued on to a larger point: to argue that the concept of peace went well beyond the simple absence of war. “Peace is a thing, it is a tangible, graspable entity that can be held, internalized, and gifted. It doesn’t mean that everything is good, or even peaceful, but you are aware of what lies ahead and you are confident that it can be dealt with.” He shrugged, as if stating the obvious. “You know that feeling you get when you have settled upon a plan? A zing in your head that this is going to be good, that you can do it, that this is what you have prepared for and it will work? Believe me, Tom, that is peace.” I always thought that the most endearing thing about John was that his actions – and his music – were seemingly so simple, straightforward and honest compared to how obviously complex a person he was. With hindsight, I now see that he was at peace. “Preparing and eating good food is a kind of peace. It means you see the promise in yourself and in those you are feeding, and you care enough to nurture it.”

John became silent, quietly chewing and focusing on his hand. “People cannot be hungry and at peace. Hunger is a violence that overwhelms you. A community that is hungry is a community at war, with themselves and others … and you cannot win this war with bad food. A child, a young woman, a grown man, will never be able to seize the day or grasp the promise of their future if they are hungry or eat poorly.”

“Your granola is good food, and you need to give it a name that reflects how it makes you feel.”

I often think of this imaginary conversation since that fateful day George Harrison died. Every time I put a tray of granola in the oven, I am thankful for the contributions of their music to my own peace. I always gift at least one bag of five to someone, and I encourage you to do the same.

It wasn’t the last time I saw John, for I talk to him every time I add a new member of the Give Peace A Chance recipe family, such as vanilla extract or Masala chai. They have their own stories, however, and I will write about them later.

This granola recipe has evolved considerably over the past dozen years. Starting life as an overly complex hippy-inspired mix of seemingly everything whole, it has simplified to a nut-rich collection slightly sweetened with honey and coconut. Enjoy.

Give Peace A Chance Walnut Granola                            

If shopping where bulk supplies are available, such as a co-op, bring a 1-cup measure so that you can purchase exactly what is needed (for example, the * indicates the ingredient is available in bulk at Bethesda Co-op (MacArthur Blvd and Seven Locks Rd, MD)

  • 6 cups rolled oats*
  • 1 lb (~4 cups) walnut pieces (Trader Joe’s 1 lb bag of California walnut baking pieces is perfect)
  • 1 lb (~4 cups) walnuts, whole and halves* (Trader Joe’s 1 lb bag of California walnut halves & pieces is perfect)
  • 1 cup slivered almonds*
  • 1 cup unsalted sunflower seeds*
  • 2 cups unsweetened shredded coconut*
  • 1 cup canola oil
  • 1 cup honey*
  • 1.5 cups (8 oz) pistachio nutmeats, dry roasted, unsalted (Trader Joe’s)
  • 2 cups raisins*
  • 2 cups dried cranberries*
  • 2 cups dried date pieces in oat-flour*

For a formatted pdf download of this recipe, click here.

Preheat the oven to 325°F. Position the oven racks in the middle and lower middle positions. In a very large bowl, combine oats, walnuts, almonds, sunflower seeds and coconut. Warm the oil and honey in a small pan until thin and runny. Pour over the oat mixture, and mix thoroughly to coat evenly; the mixture will be quite wet. Spread even layers on two rimmed baking sheets.

Bake for 40 minutes until thoroughly toasted, stirring and scraping the pans every 10-minutes, switching pans between lower and upper racks. Stir in the dried fruit and pistachios while granola is still hot from the oven. Let stand until completely cooled, stirring occasionally to break up large clusters. Store in the freezer in quart-sized zip-lock bags. Makes 5 quarts.

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