It looks so healthy, sitting there on the shelf, wearing it's halo, the little plastic window displaying wholesome looking oats and nuts and fruit.
Looking closer at the ingredient list, I noticed sugar was the second ingredient on every brand I picked up!
So I turned my nose up at those deceiving little boxes and decided to make my own.
I initially thought about using honey or brown sugar in my version. After all that's the perfect way to get that lovely caramelized crunch. But then I realised that this is breakfast! It can be delicious without needing to be covered in caramelized sugar!!
So I decided to go down the healthy route and steer clear of the refined and liquid sugar (i.e honey, maple syrup etc) completely. This granola is sweetened using pureed dates and banana. I found during my experimentation of this recipe, that the puree actually works brilliantly to get those gorgeous clusters that you just want to eat straight out of the jar as a snack.
In addition to the oats and fruit puree, I also used:
- Nuts - pecans, almonds and brazil nuts. You can use whatever you like though. Walnuts or hazelnuts would be great too.
- Fresh cranberries - I wanted a bit of a zing in there and fresh cranberries are perfect for this. You can replace with dried cranberries (they're usually full of added sugar too though) or other dried fruits. However, if you wanted to add other dried fruits, I'd suggest adding them only during the last 5 minutes of cooking, or after cooking - otherwise they may dry out too much, leaving you will little bits of rock-hard fruit.
- Pumpkin seeds - perfect for crunch, and full of nutrients
- A little coconut oil - to help bind everything together and to ensure the granola bakes to a lovely golden colour - rather than just steaming in the fruit puree
- Orange zest - for a bit of added flavour. Plus it goes perfectly with the cranberries.
The result is a tray of golden granola, that has crunch, but also little chewy clusters. I love it mixed in with some Greek yoghurt and fresh berries for breakfast. It's definitely not as sweet as the stored-bought stuff, but it's perfectly moreish just the way it is. In fact I'm actually sitting here now, writing this whilst eating it straight from the jar!
I really enjoy coming up with different granola flavours and combinations like this one, or my White Chocolate Coconut Cashew Granola, Raspberry Macaroon Granola, Chocolate Coconut Granola, or my Coconut Macaroon Granola.
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Cranberry Nut Sugar Free Granola Recipe:
Sugar Free Homemade Granola
- 4 medjool dates - de-stoned and roughly chopped
- ¼ cup hot water
- 2 ripe bananas
- 2 tbsp. coconut oil
- 3 cups rolled oats - check for gluten free if required
- 1 cup mixed nuts - roughly chopped (I used pecans, almonds and brazil nuts)
- ¼ cup pumpkin seeds
- 1 cup fresh cranberries
- zest of 1 orange
- Preheat the oven to 160c/320f.
- Place the dates and hot water in a large bowl or jug and leave to soak for 3 minutes. Add in the banana, then blend to a puree using a hand blender. Add in the coconut oil and stir until it has melted into the puree.
- Add in the rest of the ingredients and stir until everything is well mixed. You should have a slightly damp, clumpy mixture.
- Pour out the ingredients onto a metal baking tray and flatten with the back of a spoon. Squash some of the mixture together so you get some nice clumpy bits.
- Place in the oven and cook for 35 minutes. After the first 15 minutes, check the granola every 5-6 minutes to make sure it doesn't burn and to let any steam out of the oven. The edges will start to brown quicker, so each time you check the granola, move it around a little, and move any darker bits away from the edges.
- Take out of the oven and leave to cool completely, then break apart any larger clumps using your fingers. Pour into an airtight container until ready to use.
It will last for approx. a month, but will start to go a little softer after a week due to the use of pureed fruit to sweeten the granola. Nutritional info is estimated per cup.
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