Granola – crunchy, sweet and so versatile. I recently became obsessed with granola; I add it to oatmeal, top a smoothie with it, mix it with berries and almond milk or just snack on it. It is definitely one of those foods that is worth the effort to make rather than buy in the store. Store-bought granola tends to be filled with added sugars and oils, turning a relatively healthy food into something totally different.Making a fruit-sweetened granola has always been a challenge due to the fact that it needs a binder ingredient, which is usually maple syrup, honey or agave. So I went on a mission to find a way to replicate that texture on my own. I discovered that blending dates with water creates a date syrup and – walla!- you have a fruit “syrup” to bind your granola.Since it is still apple season adding apples and all those warm spices was a must! But what makes this granola even more special is that it makes the perfect gift. Everyone tends to stress out and spend way too much money this time of year just trying to find the perfect thoughtful gift. But nothing screams thoughtful more then a homemade fruit-sweetened gluten-free granola. I pack a mason jars with granola wrap them up and give them to friends and family for the holiday. I like to include the recipe so they know what’s in it and, more importantly, so they can make it as well. And if you really want to amp up this gift a notch add an apron with it. Recently I found Tilit a company making trendy and fun aprons my personal favorite is this one a play on denim. But you can’t go wrong with any of them. Next on my list to try is this one with a criss cross strap in the back! I store it in the freezer to preserve it, which also makes it a little more crunchy. You can personalize this recipe with your favorite nuts, seeds and dried fruit. It’s a basic granola recipe that can be not-so-basic if you choose. Give it a try and maybe even share it with family and friends!Dry Ingredients:
- 5 cups old fashion oats
- 1/2 cup chia seeds
- 1/2 cup sunflower seeds
- 1 cup toasted almonds (chopped)
- 1 teaspoon cinnamon
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
- 1 green apple peeled and diced
- 2 cups dates (soaked in warm water to soften)
- 1 1/2 cup water
- 1/4 cup coconut oil (melted)
- 1 cup chopped dried figs
- 1 cup toasted coconut
- In a large mixing bowl combine dry ingredeints and mix.
- Place all wet ingredients in a food processor or blender. Be sure the dates are pitted and soak them in warm water for 10 minutes so they can be easily blended.
- Once the wet ingredients are evenly combined and blended, mix them with the dry ingredients. Mix it until everything is evenly coated.
- Prepare a baking tray with parchment paper and non-stick spray. Spread mixture evenly on to the tray. Be sure it’s spread evenly so it all cooks evenly. You want it to be a thin layer so two trays might be necessary.
- Once the mixture is spread on the tray place in the oven at 325 for 35 minutes. Take it out and flip it or mix it (do not over mix this will leave you with granola that is just crumbs) and then pop it back into the oven and cook for an additional 35 minutes checking on it every so often. You want it to be golden brown; it will harden and get crunchy once cooled. I like to leave it in the oven with the oven turned off for an additional 10 minutes afterwards but that’s totally optional.
- When the granola is done cooking toss in your dried fruit and coconut. Store in an airtight container. To preserve store in the freezer.