Happy Easter Sunday everyone! I hope the Easter Bunny was good to you and that you are promptly going to gorge on chocolate. Hopefully this post can help you out…
I finally finished this massive bag of gluten-free cereal I’ve had in the cupboard since January. When I poured the last little bit out on top of a green smoothie I breathed a small sigh of relief. There’s something I hate about having food sit around the house for that long and I love the satisfaction of finishing something! But no sooner had I finished it and created that much needed space in the pantry, that I wanted more! I began scouring the internet for recipes to make my own cereal this time and instead of finding a recipe I wanted to make I just created a new craving- granola. Lazy as I was, I didn’t make any, but resolved to check out the selection at the grocery store when I went the next day.
However I had pretty stringent requirements in the granola that not even a strong craving could make me steer from:
- whole grain, gluten-free
- low in added sweetener
- no refined sugars (aka no corn syrup or white sugar)
- low in added fat
- only healthy fats (non-GMO, cold-pressed oils please)
- no added flavours, just natural whole ingredients
Have you guys ever taken a good look at the typical granolas you find in grocery stores? Just looking at some of the labels left me shaking my head with disbelief- I was reading a “low fat” granola label that was being marketed as healthy but contained ingredients like: sugar, corn syrup AND molasses, modified corn starch, non-fat milk powder, wheat flakes, white rice, artificial flavours and BHT, a preservative. SO basically loads of sugar, gluten and processed ingredients. A quick wiki search on BHT led to research that showed that BHT might lead to hyperactivity in children and there is controversy surrounding the link between BHT and cancer. The research wasn’t conclusive but still, I’d rather err on the side of caution. So that put a stop in the grocery store granola plan.
Moving on to the health food section. While there were some that met my standards they were definitely a bit more money than I was willing to spend. The health foodie in me took over and trumped my laziness- I decided to make my own! Plus that way I could add exactly what I wanted to get the right taste. Problem solved! Except…
Making granola was always so intimidating to me. For some reason the thought of having to combine dry and wet ingredients that would yield the perfect crispy granola that I wanted seemed so difficult, especially when you added all my very particular requirements on top of that I had bookmarked a couple granola recipes recently though that seemed like a good place to start. These 3 granolas were made by bloggers who I highly admire and they used no added oil in any of them! With very little added sugar to boot.
- Beet Granola at Choosing Raw
- Chocolate Buckwheat Granola at Almost Vegan
- Coconut Maple Granola with Cacao Nibs at In Pursuit of More
Armed with the idea that it was possible, I set out to create a granola that had all of my favourite things in it and was healthy. On the top of the list: chocolate. And so my very first homemade chocolate cherry almond granola was born!
The nutritional components of this granola are pretty awesome: whole grains (quinoa and oats) and protein from the quinoa and almonds. Only 2 tbsp of added sweetener in the whole recipe (not counting what is in the dried cherries) and tons of fiber.
The banana helps bind the ingredients together and adds sweetness without added sugar and fat and the cocoa powder, coconut and dried cherries are the perfect granola additions that provide pops of sweetness and tartness The coconut oil really helps it all bind together and get super crispy! Not too sweet, deeply chocolatey and lots of big clumps (the marker of a good granola in my opinion).
Chocolate, Cherry and Almond Granola (Vegan, Gluten-Free, Refined Sugar-Free)
- 1 cup rolled oats
- 1/2 cup quinoa
- 1/3 cup cocoa powder
- 1/3 cup dried cherries
- 1/3 cup dried coconut
- 1/2 cup almonds, chopped
- 1 tsp cinnamon
- 1 banana, mashed
- 2 tbsp maple syrup (could omit or use another liquid sweetener/stevia)
- 2 tbsp coconut oil, melted (or another oil)
- 1 tsp vanilla
- 1 tbsp water (if needed- if you have a larger banana, you might not need the extra liquid!)
Preheat oven to 250°F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
Combine all the dry ingredients in a large bowl and combine the wet in a small bowl. Add the wet to the dry and mix well, making sure all the dry ingredients are coated in the wet mixture, add extra water if needed.
Bake for an hour or until completely dry, stirring once halfway to ensure even baking! Allow to cool then store in a container in the cupboard. Excellent with chopped fruit and almond milk!
Ahhh granola craving satisfied.
And let’s pretend I didn’t buy another bag of that cereal today. Guess I’m covered for a while ;)