*Depending on apple size, you’ll need 2 to 3 for the diced and shredded apple. I keep the skin on; you could peel if preferred. The grated or shredded apple adds more natural sweetness and binding properties. Use a box or hand-held grater, or substitute applesauce if you don’t have a grater.
**Toasting the nuts will add a hint of extra flavor, but I’ve also skipped this step many times and the oatmeal is still delicious. I’ve also mixed in pepitas (pumpkin seeds), which I do prefer roasted or toasted.
***I enjoy the flavor of maple syrup, although brown sugar, honey, agave, or another sweetener of choice may be used in its place.
Can I make this recipe with no added sweetener? Those who enjoy less sweetness can successfully make this recipe with less or no maple syrup. I aim for broad appeal where sweetness is concerned, and ¼ cup has been the most widely preferred amount. I enjoy this oatmeal with as little as 2T maple syrup, although my personal preference is 3T. I recommend adding an additional tablespoon of grated apple or applesauce for each tablespoon of syrup removed.
Want to vary the recipe? This recipe is flexible and forgiving, so you could use a combination of apples and blueberries or bananas, dried cherries or chopped dates instead of cranberries, mashed overripe banana or pumpkin instead of the grated apple or applesauce, or any combination of these fruits. You could add a ½ teaspoon of freshly grated nutmeg or pumpkin pie spice. Short of these basic swaps, simply make changes incrementally so you don’t throw off the dry-to-liquid ratio.