Easy Clumpy Granola

I recently returned from a family vacation in the sweet-smelling and picturesque mountains of North Carolina. I love escaping to the mountains in the summer and enjoying their peak growing season while ours is taking a small break. The eating highlight of my trip? Breakfast. (Well, aside from this ridiculous pimento cheese I had with roasted poblanos that I will definitely be attempting to recreate at some point.) I happily ate the same thing every morning for two weeks: granola with almond milk, blueberries, and a drizzle of blackberry honey, all of which I found the first day of our trip at the Boone Farmers' Market. Eating a bowl of granola with fruit and milk for breakfast is nothing new for me, but it was this particular granola that got me excited enough to jump out of bed at the crack of dawn each morning on my vacation and skip my way to the kitchen to prepare breakfast. It was crunchy, clumpy, sweet without being saccharine, and I couldn't get enough. I've avoided writing a granola recipe for a long time now. There's a lot that goes into making a granola that tastes awesome, is easy and fast to make, has a satisfying texture, and is healthy to boot. But I think I've finally got the right combination. Low cooking temperature (you can even go lower if you have the time), healthy sweeteners (more about that later), and a nice mix of nutrient-dense components have created my new favorite breakfast.
By / Photography By The Naked South | September 03, 2015

Instructions

  1. Heat oven to 275 degrees.
  2. Combine oats, cashews, walnuts, pumpkin seeds, and salt. Add coconut nectar and coconut oil. Stir to combine thoroughly; it will be very sticky.
  3. Press onto a rimmed, parchment-lined baking sheet, making a ¼-inch thick rectangle. You want to keep the mixture cohesive on the baking tray so it makes clumps later.
  4. Bake, without stirring, for 25-30 minutes or until the edges are browned. Remove from oven, sprinkle with brown sugar, and transfer baking sheet to a wire rack to cool completely.
  5. Once cool, break up granola into pieces. Store in an airtight container.

NOTE: You can find coconut nectar in the baking section of health food stores such as Earth Origins or Whole Foods.  

About this recipe

*Key Components*

I've talked a lot about the benefits of nuts and seeds, and how important it is to purchase raw and cook them yourself. That's because high cooking temperatures make the natural oils in the nuts become rancid, and consuming that is not so nice for your liver. I opted for a low cooking temperature in this recipe to help keep our nuts healthy. You can go lower if you like, even to 150 degrees, but you’ll need to increase your cooking time considerably.

Coconut nectar is a new ingredient I've been playing with in my kitchen. It's extracted from coconut palms the same way maple syrup is from maple trees. It's low-glycemic and loaded with nutrients and amino acids. Plus it has an awesome tangy flavor and is super sticky, which is important in creating the clumps in this recipe.

Ingredients

  • 2 cups quick cooking oats (preferably sprouted)
  • ½ cup raw cashews
  • ½ cup raw walnut pieces
  • ½ cup raw pumpkin seeds
  • ¾ teaspoon sea salt, divided
  • 4 tablespoons coconut nectar
  • 4 tablespoons pure maple syrup, grade B
  • 2 tablespoons virgin coconut oil, melted
  • ¼ teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1 tablespoon organic brown sugar (optional)
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