Toasted Coconut & Almond Granola
Flash back: a couple years ago I went to a little town called Sechelt on the Sunshine Coast. The trip entailed catching a ferry to get to the island, and then a rather lengthy but scenic drive to get to this town with a population of under 10,000 people.
The purpose of the trip was to hike, bicycle and, of course, to relax at a lovely bed and breakfast located on a tranquil beachfront property.
It was at this B&B that I, for the first time, had granola for breakfast. At the time I wasn’t following a plant-based lifestyle and so the granola was served on top of yogurt with some freshly cut-up fruit. I recall being floored by how good this granola was, and I was convinced granola for breakfast would become a ritual.
When I returned back to Vancouver I went to local grocery stores and was disappointed on two accounts: 1) granola was insanely expensive, and 2) the amount of added sugar and oils added was disconcerting; granola was more calorie-dense and less 'healthy' than I had thought. I still bought a couple packages to try and was not impressed with the taste either. That was that – my love affair with granola ended.
A couple months later I went back to the same B&B and was served the granola again. Wow! Sooooo good. I asked the host where she bought the granola and was impressed to hear she made it herself. This gave me the inspiration and motivation I needed to try making my own. The day I returned home I started experimenting to make a granola with maximum deliciousness and minimal added sugar and oil... and several trials later this divine creation was born:
The perks to making your own homemade granola:
Yield: For a one-time effort this recipes makes LOADS of granola vs. the little amount you get when pre-packaged at the store.
Price: Significantly more affordable when made at home.
Taste: More delicious (in my humble opinion)!
Control: You decide what goes in it! Let’s explore this further…
Freedom to control and change the add-ins each time:
Nuts/Seeds: This time I used a mixture of raw almonds, pumpkin seeds and sunflower seeds, but you could easily use cashews, walnuts, hazelnuts or pecans.
Spices: I didn’t add any spices but you can easily add cinnamon, nutmeg or pumpkin pie spice if you’d like.
Dried Fruit: I didn’t add any dried fruit because I often eat my granola with fresh fruit, but you can stir in dried fruit of choice such as raisins, craisins (dried cranberries), dried apples or mangoes after the granola is done cooking – the options here are unlimited!
Oils/Sugars: As mentioned above, the store-bought versions add loads of oils and sugars. By making your own, you can control the amount added and thus make it more healthful and wholesome than the pricy alternatives.
There are a number of ways you can enjoy the granola:
On top of almond/coconut/soy yogurt.
In a small tupperware container as a snack.
Sprinkled on top of your morning fruit bowl with some plant-based milk.
Used as decoration on top of your banana nice cream (frozen banana blended to make ice cream), or decoration for any other assortment of desserts.
Sprinkled on top of a smoothie to make it more filling.
… you’re getting the idea.
Dietitian's Recommendation: If you’re going to eat granola, this is the way to go. Forget the store-bought stuff.
Toasted Coconut & Almond Granola
▸ ▹ Vegan, gluten-free, soy-free
Yield: 6 cups (12 servings)
Prep Time: 10 min
Cook Time: 1 hr 15 min
Total Time: 1 hr 25 min
3 cups (370 g) rolled oats (be sure to purchase gluten free if following a GF diet)
1 cup (140 g) raw almonds, roughly chopped (or other nut of choice)
1/2 cup (75 g) raw pumpkin seeds (or other nut/seed of choice)
1/2 cup (75 g) raw sunflower seeds (or other nut/seed of choice)
3/4 cup (75 g) shredded unsweetened coconut flakes
1/4 cup (50 g) brown sugar
1/4 cup (60 mL) maple syrup
1/4 cup (60 mL) vegetable oil
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup (75 g) dried fruit, chopped if large (optional)
Preheat the oven to 250F (120C) and place baking paper onto a sheet pan.
In a large bowl, combine the oats, nuts, seeds, coconut and brown sugar.
In a medium bowl combine the maple syrup, oil and salt.
Combine the two mixtures together and mix, then pour onto the baking sheet.
Cook for 1 hour and 15 minutes, stirring every 15-20 minutes to achieve an even golden colour.
That's it! Let it cool and harden, and then transfer to air-tight jars. If you want to add any dried fruits, this is when you should do it (do not cook the dried fruit).
Make sure the nuts and seeds you use are raw. If they are already roasted, it's best to toss them in after the oats have baked, to avoid overcooking the nuts/seeds.
Get creative: add any nuts or seeds of your choice, or dried fruit such as dried cranberries or raisins, and even spices such as cinnamon or pumpkin pie spice. Make it differently each time for a new combination of flavours.
Want to shorten the cooking time? Turn up the heat a bit, but be sure to keep an eye on it and stir more frequently to avoid burning. The mixture is ready when it's lightly golden - don't worry if it's not hard. It will harden as it cools. Enjoy!
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