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Eating healthy is hard. It’s is all about sacrifices. It’s about cutting out foods and habits we like because they aren’t good for us. That’s obvious. We’ve known that forever. And if that wasn’t true it wouldn’t be a challenge.

You’d think after a year it wouldn’t be quite as much of a challenge though. And for the most part, that’s true. I am no longer interested in a lot of foods because I know how terrible they are or I have outgrown them. But every once in a while something random will hit me and I really want it. Lately, it’s been cereal. In school, I used to rock kids’ breakfast cereal with skim milk for dinner on a very regular basis, but having given up dairy, sugar and processed food, Lucky Charms are not really on my pantry’s guest list.

So I’ve been trying to find an alternative. Unfortunately, it’s really hard to find a cereal that is low in sugar, whole grain/gluten-free but doesn’t taste like cardboard. Like, really hard. So I decided to set about making my own. After running into snags on that front, too, I settled on perfecting a recipe for granola.

Crunchy Coconut Granola

Crunchy Coconut Granola

I really like granola, and I keep most of the standard granola ingredients around the house anyway. So all I had to do was find a recipe. Luckily, there are literally thousands of granola recipes on the Internet, so I was able to give myself a head start. The trouble was, I wanted more than just oats. First, I tried rice, but it never really gets crunchy enough. Not the way I was doing it at least. So, since I wanted to avoid going out and finding any exotic ingredients, I decided to give quinoa a shot. Turns out, it was a great idea. The quinoa adds both crunch and protein, so a great addition all around.

The next problem was that granola might be a clean food but it is not necessarily diet friendly. So in order to try to redeem it a little bit, I used orange puree. Literall, I just used my immersion blender to make orange puree, kind of like apple sauce but with an orange.

orange puree

Orange puree

It actually worked pretty well. Granola calls for a lot of oil and a lot of sweetener and this was a substitute for both. Some granola recipes call for natural apple sauce, but I didn’t have any lying around nor did I want to make any. And since I finally found unsweetened coconut flakes, I decided I’d go with a kind of tropical-ish theme. coconut flakes

Crunchy Coconut Granola

Prep Time: 10 Mins. Cook Time: 50 Mins. Makes about 12 1/2 cup servings.

Ingredients:

  • 3 Cups Old Fashioned Oats
  • 1 Cup Dried Quinoa
  • ¼ Cup Shaved Coconut (Sweet or Unsweet)
  • ½ Cup Sliced Almonds (or smash up some whole ones if you want more ~crunch)
  • ¼ Cup Sunflower Seeds (Dry Roasted Unsalted)
  • 1 ½ tsps Cinnamon
  • 1 tsp Ground Ginger
  • Dash of salt
  • ⅓ Cup Orange Blossom Honey
  • 2 Tbl Sesame Oil
  • 1 teaspoon Vanilla.
  • ⅓ Cup Orange Puree (literally just a smoothie of orange only)
  • ½ Cup Golden Raisins
  • Coconut Oil for greasing pan (or any kind of pan grease)

Directions:

  1. Preheat Oven to 300˚F.
  2. Oats, quinoa, sunflower seeds and almonds in medium mixing bowl. 
  3. Put one orange in blender and blend until a sort of puree forms (or use hand mixer, etc.)
  4. In small bowl or measuring pint combine orange puree, honey, vanilla and oil. Whisk until fully blended. 
  5. Grease a 9×13 baking dish.
  6. Add dry mix. Then pour sauce over dry stuff. Mix thoroughly until dry ingredients are coated.
  7. Bake approx. 50 minutes, stirring every 10 mins, until golden brown and toasted. 
  8. After 30 mins, add the coconut flakes and finish baking.
  9. Let cool a few minutes after removing from oven.
  10. Stir in raisins.
granola in pan

Fresh out of the oven.

Notes:

  • If this isn’t sweet enough for you, add more honey, either while it’s baking or on top afterwards. 
  • Pay attention to the oven, the cook time is only approximate. One of the times I made this it burned in 45 minutes, the second time, it took an hour to feel done enough.
  • You could also add some chia seeds for extra nutrition.
  • To make it vegan, use agave nectar; gluten-free, use a gf brand of oats.

I have really enjoyed this granola. It works well in a lot of ways. I’ve eaten it dry like a snack and almond milk as cereal. My favorite way is with Greek yogurt and a banana, parfait style, as my post-workout protein fix. Speaking of bananas, I think it would be good with some dried banana chips mixed in, if you are looking for ways to liven it up.

granola finishedSo with the honey and the oil, it isn’t perfect, but if you think about how those things are divvied up over 12 servings, it is pretty harmless. It has a ton of fiber and protein, so it’s very filling. It’s a lot better than grocery store cereal at least. And it’s kind of amazing actually, for something so useful to have around the kitchen, it is surprisingly easy to make. It takes a while to bake, but the prep is incredibly simple. I plan to keep a batch of this around pretty much all the time!

-lj

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