My husband and daughter both have a sweet tooth. Their love of sticky, chocolate-laced desserts, cookies and just straight-up juice is way too much for me. I am always trying to guide them in the other direction, and over the past year or so I would say a shift has happened. Our kitchen is no longer stocked with insanely unhealthy chocolate bars, but our cupboards have become home to a whole range of “healthy” alternative sweeteners for us to whip up treats in a more wholesome way.
Below is a dish which has helped to crowd out some of the other less nourishing sweet habits in this house. My husband loves it so much it is usually he who makes it. It is delish at breakfast time (for those mornings when a smoothie just isn’t the thing – although promise to get one in later in the day!), for a snack, sometimes even for dessert with some warm almond milk custard or (nut-based!) ice cream. It’s that good. Plus, it is a whole-food based recipe bursting with magnesium, antioxidants and omega 3s. It is perfect to replace those boxes of overly-processed, nutrient-stripped, “fortified” cereals that might be turning up at the breakfast table.
The ingredients can be played with; sometimes I add pecans instead of almonds, cherries or raisins instead of dates, hemp seeds instead of sesame. I have made it nut-free (with extra seeds) for my daughter to take to school as a snack and oat-free for a paleo-friendly breakfast when cooking for a retreat this past spring. The magic is in the crispness that comes from baking in the oil.
Let’s circle back to the topic of sweetener (a subject I will discuss in more detail another week). Although this recipe is not heavily laced with regular sugar, we should remember that ANY sweetener should be taken minimally (including the dried fruit!). If you are trying to reduce your sugar intake, the syrup amounts can easily be reduced or even removed if you like, in which case you could try using coconut oil instead of olive oil. Another option is to replace the syrups with an overly ripe banana (still very sweet!), smashed into the wet mixture before spreading it onto the baking sheets.
This recipe is inspired by the Cherry Coconut Granola from Amy Chaplin’s
“At Home in the Whole Food Kitchen”.
Makes approx. 12 cups
- ½ cup raw pumpkin seeds
- ½ cup raw sunflower seeds
- ½ cup raw, unhulled sesame seeds
- 1 cup raw almonds
- 5 cups regular rolled oats
- 2 ½ cups dried, unsweetened coconut flakes
- 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- ½ teaspoon nutmeg, ground
- ¼ cup flax seeds, ground
- ¼ cup blackstrap molasses
- ¼ cup brown rice syrup
- ¼ cup maple syrup
- ½ teaspoon Maldon salt
- ½ cup extra virgin olive oil
- 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
- 1 cup dates, seeded and chopped
- 1 cup puffed quinoa
Preheat the oven to 300°F (150°C).
Line two baking dishes with parchment paper.
Place pumpkin, sunflower seeds, sesame seeds and almonds in a medium bowl and fill with water, swishing them around. Allow them to settle then strain, rinsing again with running water. Set aside to dry.
In a large mixing bowl, mix the oats, coconut, cinnamon, nutmeg and flax. Set aside.
In a small pan, warm the blackstrap molasses, brown rice and maple syrups and salt over a low to medium heat, stirring until the mixture begins to simmer.
Remove from the heat and add the olive oil and vanilla. Set aside.
Mix the seeds into the oat mixture.
Pour in the olive oil mixture and stir until combined.
Place on the baking sheets in a layer around ½ inch thick. Bake for 15 minutes. Stir, rotate baking sheets and bake for a further 15 minutes. Stir again and return to the oven for another 5 – 10 minutes or until granola is golden.
Place warm granola in a bowl, add dried fruit, puffed quinoa and Maldon salt, stir gently.
Cool completely (I use the pages of the New York Times!) before storing in jars.
Granola will keep well for 4 – 6 weeks.