Generosity and Granola: How Giving Can Make You Feel Great

In the age of Covid-19, it’s easy to feel downtrodden and powerless.

That's why Commonwealth’s Director of Athletics and Wellness, Kathy Tarnoff, has been helping students and staff stave off some of the harmful effects of the extended stress and isolation by organizing exercise classes, sharing nutrition advice, reminding us to move, and more.

Her latest health tip? Be generous.

“Helping behavior is associated with positive health outcomes,” Ms. Tarnoff says, citing the National Institutes of Health; this can be “a powerful antidote to stress.”

There are some simple ways to help others during this time, even with all restrictions and protocols we must adhere to. One such way is to give freely or share, to be generous. That can mean giving of one’s time and energy, whether it’s checking in on friends and family, or organizing an online fundraiser.

Of course, generosity can also mean giving gifts—which can still be done safely! And that’s just what Ms. Tarnoff suggests.

“How would you like to feel the benefits of generosity and enjoy some good, healthy food that may also bring you back to the days of sitting on the floor in the Cafegymnatorium?” Ms. Tarnoff asks. So she called on Commonwealth’s Chef Heather Pierce for her famous granola recipe, enjoyed by students, faculty, and staff almost every day when in school.

“If you are able to make some [granola], consider making extra and share it with your neighbors, first responders, UPS/FEDEX delivery person, or classmates,” Ms. Tarnoff says. “Leaving little gifts on the doorstep of someone you care about can brighten their day—and probably yours too!”

Commonwealth School Granola


5 cups Rice Krispies cereal
4 cups rolled oats
3 tablespoons of millet or quinoa (uncooked) (adds protein)
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1/4 cup 100% maple syrup
1/4 cup molasses
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon of ginger
Pinch of salt


  1. Preheat oven to 200 degrees.
  2. Mix all ingredients in a large bowl, making sure to coat everything as much as possible. It will be sticky!
  3. Spray 2 sheet pans with Pam or another nonstick spray.
  4. Put mixed granola on sheet pans in a uniform layer, otherwise it will cook unevenly.
  5. Bake for 1 hour.
  6. After 1 hour let cool for at least 30 minutes before touching, letting it set.
  7. Once cooled, feel free to add extra toppings like dried fruit, seeds, or nuts.
  8. Store in an airtight container so that it does not go stale.
  9. Enjoy with yogurt, milk, fresh fruit, or just by the handful!

Thank you to Chef Heather for sharing such a special recipe—we are forever grateful for all of the fabulous food you have made for us. We hope that your granola will be given out and enjoyed in neighborhoods throughout the Boston area. It's famous within the Commonwealth Community; why not share with others?

Learn more about Commonwealth students and staff giving back in times of crisis.