Sunday, April 29, 2012

Grain-Free Granola

I am NOT on a paleo, gluten-free, grain-free, or super low carb diet, and I don't have plans to follow one of those. I do however, have several friends who for health reasons limit or have completely cut grains or gluten out of their diets, so I enjoy reading recipes on different paleo and traditional food websites. I've been following a lower carb diet since September, but for me, it's mostly meant eating less sugar and not having seconds (or thirds) on bread. Because of this, I've experimented with a few grain free recipes, some have been successful and others not so much.
Growing up and throughout college, breakfast was never much of a priority for me. I'm not a morning person, so I tend to sleep as late as I can, which meant a quick breakfast. Over the last few years, I've discovered how much I love breakfast...except for cereal.  I am the queen of buying a box of cereal, eating 2 bowls, then never touching it again. I get bored with them. I also really dislike cereal that gets soggy in milk. But my #1 problem with cereal: it never keeps me full for more than an hour, so I end up having a much larger snack than I usually would in the morning. One day, while avoiding laundry, I did a search for grain-free cereals, just to see what was out there.  I came across a recipe that used nuts, coconut, coconut oil, dried fruit, and honey (this is NOT a low fat recipe).  I had all of the ingredients except for some of the nuts and the flaked coconut.  The original recipe called for almonds, walnuts, and macadamia nuts.  I had almonds and walnuts, but found the macadamia nuts to be way too expensive, so I used hazelnuts. I would also rather use pecans than walnuts (personal preference), but since I already had the walnuts, I decided to use them since they were already in my freezer and therefore, free food.  I used my food processor to grind the hazelnuts and walnuts, so the recipe took very little time to prepare. While the cereal was baking, I even managed to unload and reload the dishwasher, and throw dinner into the crock pot!
My husband and I both loved this cereal. I was very surprised when I came home and found my husband snacking on it- he doesn't like coconut, so I assumed I'd be eating the whole batch by myself.  We both had a 1/2 cup for breakfast the next morning with milk and bananas. I usually have a snack around 10:00, but didn't feel hungry until 11:00 (we have breakfast at 6:30). My husband said it kept him full until lunch time. This recipe is a keeper. I look forward to experimenting with different nuts and dried fruits for variety.

Grain Free Granola
Adapted from Paleo Parents
Makes about 13 servings, 1/2 cup each

1 1/2 cups sliced or slivered almonds
1 1/2 cups unsweetened coconut flakes
1 cup walnuts (or pecans) finely chopped or ground into a meal
1 cup hazelnuts finely chopped or ground into a meal
1/2 cup fresh dates, diced
1 cup dried cranberries
1/2 cup coconut oil, melted
1/3 cup honey
2 teaspoons, cinnamon

1) Preheat oven to 275.  Combine nuts, coconut flakes, dates, and cranberries in a large bowl.
2) Whisk together oil, cinnamon, and honey in a small bowl.
3) Pour oil-honey mixture over the nuts, coconut, dates, and cranberries. Mix well.
4) Spread in a single layer on a baking sheet lined with parchment or a silicone baking mat.
5) Bake for 1 hour, stirring every 15 minutes to prevent burning.
6) Allow to cool on paper towels or coffee filters. Store in an air tight container.