Sweet Traditions

Mediterranean Granola with Pistachios, Hazelnuts and Orange

Photo by Lorelle Del Matto


The holidays are full of cherished traditions and many revolve around food treats. My second cousin Joanie called yesterday and we reminisced about Auntie’s (her mom’s) English toffee, her rich, buttery refrigerator rolls and Swedish snowball cookies (what I call Russian Tea Cakes or Mexican Wedding Cakes). My mom always asks if we’re going to make peanut brittle, a new tradition we’ve established with the bonus of shared time together.


While almost everyone I know is cutting back on refined carbs and added sugar – including myself – I’ll never give up making the recipes that are treasured traditions for me. My strategy is to select my treats with care, focusing on the ones that give me the most pleasure. I make room for more indulgences that are part of celebrating the season. I’m mindful of portions and balance my intake with lots of healthful foods.

I also experiment with new recipes. Some stick and become new traditions. I especially like the challenge of finding a “treat” that has nutrition and health attributes.


This year I’m offering homemade Mediterranean Granola to friends for a gift. It is full of delectable, nutrient-packed ingredients common in the Mediterranean – pistachios, walnuts, hazelnuts, seeds, figs and oats. Olive oil gives richness and helps with toasting. Honey, cinnamon and orange zest lend sweetness and flavor.


Photo by Lorelle Del Matto

This granola is also a concentrated source of calories (260 per ½ cup if you must know). Most of my friends are very active – snow shoeing, hiking and skiing – so this granola is the perfect packable snack or mini meal to keep the metabolic fires burning during vigorous activity in chilly weather.


Impress friends with a homemade and healthful gift. The recipe is simple, quick and it makes a big batch so you can fit it into your busy schedule. I created this recipe for the Valley Fig Growers Fig Focus December 2017 Newsletter where you’ll find more how-to photos.


Photo by Lorelle Del Matto

Have a Sweet Holiday!


Mediterranean Granola

Makes about 13 cups, 26 (½-cup) servings

4 cups old-fashioned rolled oats (not instant)
1 1/2 cups unsalted, raw walnut pieces
1 cup unsalted, raw hazelnuts or almonds
1 cup shelled, unsalted, raw pistachios
¼ cup chia, flax, unsalted raw pumpkin or sunflower seeds (or a combination)
1/4 cup packed brown sugar
1 tablespoon orange zest
1 ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup honey
1/2 cup olive oil
1 package (7-ounce) Blue Ribbon® Orchard Choice® or Sun-Maid® California Figs, stemmed and halved
1/2 to ¾ cup dried cranberries, cherries or apricots (halved or sliced)


1. Adjust oven racks to upper third and lower third of oven. Preheat oven to 300°. Line two large rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper or oiled foil.
2. In a large bowl, combine oats, walnuts, hazelnuts, pistachios and seeds.
3. In separate bowl blend sugar and orange zest; add cinnamon and salt. Whisk in honey and olive oil. Pour over oat mixture and stir to blend well. Spread mixture onto lined baking sheets, dividing evenly.
4. Bake for 40 to 45 minutes or until toasted, stirring and switching position of sheets on racks every 15 minutes.
5. Cool. Break granola into chunks and stir in in Figs and cranberries.
6. Package in airtight containers.


© Lorelle Del Matto 2017

lorelle About lorelle

Crazy about cooking, eating and sharing good food – my work and leisure revolve around the kitchen. As a culinary dietitian my professional life encompasses nutrition counseling and education, recipe development, product development, food and nutrition writing, marketing communications, corporate test kitchen and consumer affairs management, food styling and work as a product spokesperson.

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