Cereal isn’t really my breakfast of choice. Most of the common grocery store options seem to be a combination of ample sugar and heavily processed grains. If that’s how I’m starting my day, I would personally rather have cake.
That said, sometimes I need to eat on the run, or would rather sleep for an extra half hour instead of cooking. Enter granola. It has endless options for customization, gives me that nice, satisfying crunch when I want it, and can be eaten on the go. It’s great for summer mornings when I don’t want to heat the house up by cooking. Yet, it’s also good for cold days when I just want to stay in my warm bed as long as possible.
This recipe is for a cranberry almond flavored granola, but I have used the same basic recipe to make a long list of other varieties. When I made the granola pictured, I also made a cinnamon maple batch because I was feeling some fall flavors. Adding cocoa powder and either chocolate chips or cocoa nibs to make chocolate granola is also rather yummy. The nuts, seeds, and grains used can also be varied for different flavors and textures. The process and portions stay the same. As long as you have roughly 4 cups of a seed, nuts, and/or grain mixture with no more than a cup of flavoring add ins, and about 15 dates worth of date paste to sweeten it and hold the mixture together, you should get good result.
Regarding the date paste itself, dates contain an amazing amount of naturally occurring sugar. They have a fairly distinct flavor, but if that flavor appeals to you or compliments the dish, they make a great, more nutrient rich substitute for more heavily refined sugars. I use date paste for a number of things, sometimes even saving the water I soaked them in to sweeten chai or other strongly flavored drinks. It’s so easy to make, just soak them, then blend them. I have a very basic Ninja blender that I use for this (and about a million other things), and it gets the consistency smooth enough that I’ve been able to use the result as a glaze for sweet treats with excellent results. Dates are amazing.
The rest of the ingredients, except the coconut oil, can typically be found in the bulk food section of any grocery store that has one. If that doesn’t work for you, these are also all items that require no refrigeration and ship well. The internet can be a wonderful resource!
Cranberry Almond Granola
- 15 whole dates (pitted)
- 1/2 cup dried cranberries
- 2 cups sliced or chopped almonds (raw and unsalted)
- 1 cup sunflower seeds (raw and unsalted)
- 1/2 cup sesame seeds
- 1/4 cup flax meal
- 1 tbsp coconut oil
- 1/2 cup old fashioned rolled oats (optional, omit for whole30 or paleo granola)
Soak dates in water for at least 4 hours. Overnight works better.
Blend soaked, re-hydrated dates in blender or food processor until they form a smooth paste.
Mix seeds, cranberries, and meal together.
Add coconut oil and date paste to mixture. Stir until well combined.
Preheat oven to 225F. Spread mixture across 2-3 baking sheets.
Bake granola for 2 hours or until dry and lightly browned. Remove from oven and stir granola at least once, halfway through cook time. This will help it get evenly toasted, instead of burning on the outer edges while staying damp in the center. Granola may form large chunks, break apart down to desired size during cooking if desired.
Let cool before eating. Can be eaten alone, as a cold cereal with your choice of milk, or used as a topping for yogurt, smoothie bowls, or anything else your heart (and belly) desires. If not eating immediately, store in a sealed container.
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