There is literally nothing like the sweet crunch of granola in the morning. Whether you have it as a bowl of cereal in it’s own right, or topping up a bowl of fruit and yoghurt it really is delicious. Obviously, don’t forget a rich espresso on the side though.
Granola is essentially a crumbled and baked muesli, the crumbling process necessitates something sugary to glue the muesli mix together to form the baked crispy-meets-chewy clusters that make granola so delicious.
Whilst oats and muesli have been eaten forever, it’s not until the 60s that granola really got popular (and it wasn’t even ‘invented’ until the turn of that century). Initially it was branded a health food, and you can see why – it hits the major notes of oats (slow energy release, lowers cholesterol, good fibre content), dried fruit and nuts (vitamins and minerals galore), with just one major drawback… it’s extremely sugary – until now, mwahaha…
My version uses a quick, homemade date syrup, that packs a rich and wonderfully dark treacle taste for a much lower glycemic hit! I also love using cocoa to give it an earthy richness, and coconut flakes to make the whole thing less dense as well as to add a beautiful contrast in colours to the end product.
You really can make it healthy too, by playing around with the fruits, nuts and seed you put in you can make it a really densely nutritious food, it’s never going to be low calorie, but since most of the calories are from the various healthy oils of nuts and seeds, and from the natural calorie content of fruit and oats it’s a world away from eating a chocolate bar.
And, in my opinion, much tastier.
So, here is my recipe!
Ingredients (makes around 600g of granola):
- 250g rolled oats, the bigger (more expensive) oats I think are a little nicer as they give a better texture, but honestly any will do
- 25g cocoa powder or cocoa nibs
- 50g of brown linseeds (I use these because they have the highest fibre content of the various seeds out there, but any will be tasty)
- 100g of mixed raisins/sultanas/peel/ginger
- 50g coconut flakes (unsweetened)
- 100g of dates – separated into half roughly chopped and half more finely chopped
- 100ml water
- 50g coconut oil
- A teaspoon of cinnamon
- A few grates of nutmeg
- A teaspoon of vanilla essence
- A pinch of salt (optional)
This recipe should give 20 small portions of 30g, each with around 150 calories and tonnes of nutrients. Realistically you’ll want a double portion if you have it on it’s own, but a single portion is delightful on fruit and yoghurt.
- Keep the coconut and 50g finely chopped dates to one side, and in a large mixing bowl mix all the other dry ingredients.
- In a smaller microwave-safe bowl mix the olive oil spread, the dates you set aside and the water – microwave these together for 20-30seconds then stir and squash the dates, repeating this process 2-4 times until the dates have completely dissolved.
- Pour this mixture over the dry ingredients, then crumble it together with your finger tips trying to form it up into clusters. Depending on the oats you may need a little more or a little less of the date syrup to get this done satisfactorily, you want the mixture to all be a bit sticky, but not too much (or you’re about to make flapjacks). Adding a little honey or maple syrup is a good idea if you want it sweeter, and will help with the crumbling.
- Pack this mixture into a baking tray and squash it together to make it stick together a little more, you want the depth of the mixture to be 1-2cm and pop it into the oven at gas mark 5-6, around 160-180 degrees Celsius.
- Bake for 15-20mins, stirring briefly halfway through to break up the mixture into smaller chunks.
- Add the coconut flakes, and mix a final time, continue baking for around 5 minutes and take out the mixture when the coconut just begins to brown.
- When you first take the mixture out it will be a little soft and chewy to taste, after it cools though it will dry out and take on it’s classic crunch. Varying the sugar and fat content, as well as the length of cooking time will change how chewy/flapjacky it is – experience and experimentation will get you just what you want, I personally love that it comes out differently each time though!
- When it’s cool pop it in a sealable jar or cereal container, and enjoy!