I have been in love with granola for a really, really long time. That said, I have also been disenchanted. It’s one of the first “health foods” that I actually felt had duped me. All this time, my lifelong friend was hiding a sugary secret. She was not helping my waistline, but rather perpetuating my sugary cravings. I was addicted to all sorts of processed granola that were easy to eat while walking somewhere. Yes, that was the only requirement back in university: that food be mobile.
Around two years ago I finally started shopping at Whole Foods and became aware of a granola brand that I still eat to this day, it’s called “Love Crunch”. And yes, it was love at first sight. It was organic, it was wholesome, they use granulated cane sugar juice as a sweetener and throw in good things like coconut, dark chocolate and flax seeds. I absolutely love their Dark Chocolate & Red Berries flavor, it’s my absolute favorite. I love to have it over coconut yogurt or coconut milk, and it’s a snack I can put together in a whim.
And then one day I thought, let me make some granola myself… I had always put it off as time-consuming, and time is money. I also thought that making my own granola with premium organic ingredients may come in at a higher price tab than buying my preferred organic brand from the store. And I was right on this last point, it is slightly more expensive. But flavor wise, you get what you put into it. This recipe is easy to follow, tastes great and the only sweetener is pure maple syrup. I cannot even begin to tell you about all the health benefits I’ve experienced since I gave up white refined sugar nearly two years ago. I don’t miss it, and when I have it (usually at an event or my son’s birthday party circuit) I find little to no enjoyment in the taste. Overly sweet doesn’t cut it for me anymore, and that’s a great thing. Rather than restraining yourself, you could try retraining your palate. it doesn’t happen overnight and the first two weeks are the hardest.But once you get over the initial cravings slump, you’re golden. Quite literally!
Makes 16-20 individual servings.For this recipe you will need:
- 3 cups (Gluten Free) Old Fashioned Rolled Oats
- 1/3 cup pure Maple Syrup, BUT if your prefer it a little on the sweeter side, 1/2 cup of syrup will do!
- 1/2 cup chopped organic pecans
- 1/3 cup golden raisins (or regular raisins)
- 1/3 cup organic dried cherries or cranberriers
- 1/3 cup finely chopped Medjool dates (optional)
- 3 tablespoons light olive oil OR cold-pressed coconut oil
- a pinch of salt (1/4 teaspoon or less)
- 1/4 teaspoon of nutmeg (optional)
- 1/4 teaspoons of pure vanilla extract
- Preheat your oven to 325 degrees and line up 2 cookie baking sheets with some parchment paper
- In a large bowl, combine all the dry ingredients (Oats, Pecans, Raisins, Cherries, & Dates)
- In a smaller bowl, combine the maple syrup, the vanilla extract, the oil of your choice, nutmeg & the pinch of salt. Whisk lightly with a fork until you’ve achieved a uniform mixture. If using coconut oil, ensure it’s always at room temperature for best results.
- Pour the smaller bowl of wet ingredients into the larger bowl. Using clean hands, mix the granola from the bottom up ensuring all clusters have receiving a uniform coating of the wet ingredients.
- Spread the granola evenly over the 2 baking sheets ensuring that you don’t pile it on high- you want all angles to get an equal “roasting”. A thinly spread coat will allow for this perfect cooking “crisp” we aim to achieve.
- If your oven has two racks (like most ovens do) always ensure to place both baking sheets vertically (side by side) on the lower rack to ensure even heat all around.
- I usually bake it anywhere from 20-30 minutes and always do a halfway checkpoint to stir it gently and ensure it’s baking properly.
- Let it cool and it’s ready to eat! I hope you enjoy it as much as I do.
And remember, you have carte blanche with respect to the toppings. You could always add whatever dried fruits and nuts you prefer. If you do add dark chocolate chunks always remember NOT to bake them. You can add them to the granola once it’s fully cooled down after it comes out of the oven. Before I eat it, I like to throw in hemp hearts for protein and flax seeds for good fiber. Usually a tablespoon or half a tablespoon of each will do. This granola recipe also goes well with fresh blueberries and/or bananas once it’s in your morning bowl. Happy Eating!!