I’m always a fan of a salty-sweet combo, which is probably why I can eat granola by the handful and often find myself gravitating towards it when afternoon munchies strike. As much as I love it, I think that granola might be one of the most deceptively calorie and fat-laden foods around — I mean, it sounds innocent and even healthy, but isn’t it disheartening to turn the package over and scan the nutrition facts, only to discover that a 1/2 cup serving size has 500 calories (and you just downed twice that!) While most granola is full of good-for-you things like fiber and iron, it often contains way too many oils and loads of processed sugar, resulting in a calorie count that’s comparable to a bowl of ice cream (depressing, I know.) But I’ve long suspected that granola doesn’t have to be that way in order to taste good, and I knew that the best way to sidestep the heavy doses of questionable ingredients and retain all the good ones was to create my own. I swapped in maple syrup for the sugar, and traded applesauce and just a touch of coconut oil for the vegetable oil and butter. Toasted almonds and coconut flakes, loads of heart-healthy seeds and big scoops of fiber-rich, gluten-free oats make this mix my new favorite way to start the day — either mixed with a little greek yogurt and blueberries, or on its own as I’m dashing out the door, feeling satisfied and completely guilt-free.
- 2 cups old-fashioned rolled oats (not quick-cooking)
- 1 cup slivered almonds
- 1/2 cup flaxseeds
- 1/2 cup oat bran
- 1/2 cup pumpkin seeds
- 1/2 cup unsweetened coconut flakes
- 1 cup unsweetened applesauce
- 2 tablespoons coconut oil, melted
- 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
- 1/4 cup maple syrup
- 1 cup dried apricots, chopped
- 1 cup orange juice
- Preheat the oven to 250. In a large bowl, combine the oats, almonds, flaxseeds, oat bran, pumpkin seeds and coconut flakes. Toss to combine, then add applesauce, melted coconut oil, vanilla extract and maple syrup. Use your hands to combine everything thoroughly, then spread out in an even layer onto a large parchment-lined baking sheet.
- Cover the chopped dried apricots with orange juice, and allow to soak while the granola bakes.
- Transfer baking sheet to oven and cook for 1 hour, occasionally tossing everything around. Drain the apricots, then add to the granola and toss. Return to oven and bake for another 20 – 30 minutes, until everything is golden and toasty.
- Let the granola completely cool on the baking sheet before transferring to an airtight container (covering it too soon will cause it to steam and become soggy.) Granola will keep for up to 1 week at room temperature, and up to 2 months in the freezer.