Date Sweetened No Oil No Sugar Granola

by mary on August 21, 2012

bowl of granola on yogurt with peaches, jar of granola in background

Breakfast: non-dairy yogurt, granola, fruit (sliced peaches here)

After lots of test batches I’m quite happy with this date-sweetened granola with no added sugar or oil. The dates give it plenty of sweetness and a date and nut butter mixture binds the granola together. That makes the the granola clump, which ought to please those of you who like little granola chunks. If made with gluten-free oats, the recipe is gluten-free. I’ve been using homemade walnut butter here. I’ll make my next batch with a commercial almond butter to see how an oilier, commercial nut butter affects the recipe and report back.

This granola recipe is really flexible. You can substitute nuts, grains, and seeds at will. As written, the recipe includes lots of inflammation-fighting omega-3 rich goodies like flaxseed, walnuts, and hemp hearts. Hemp hearts can be overly expensive, but Costco has them for a good price.  I sprinkle hemp hearts on salads and use them in this granola, and a Costco-sized bag lasts me a long time. I keep the hemp hearts and all of my nuts and seeds in the freezer for freshness. Flax seeds go rancid quickly so it’s especially important to buy them from a good source and keep them frozen until you need them.

Thanks to Badger Girl and her Granola 6.0 for getting me started making granola again and introducing me to the idea of using quinoa in granola. I started with her recipe and gradually morphed it: the list of dry ingredients is still pretty similar. Quinoa makes for some extra crunch in the granola. I found it better to pan-toast the quinoa for a few minutes before baking it with the rest of the dry ingredients to get fully cooked and toasty-flavored. It’s an optional ingredient: I like the version without it about as well as the crunchy quinoa variation.

Thanks also to Anja’s Food 4 Thought for her inspiring deep collection of healthy granola recipes. On my to-experiment list is her lemon-rosewater pistachio granola. Wow! Until then, here’s what I’m making for breakfast:

Granola with Coconut Flakes and Hemp Hearts
 
Cook
Total
 
Author:
Type: snack or breakfast
Ingredients
  • Dry ingredients:
  • 1½ cups rolled oats (gluten-free oats if required)
  • (optional ½ cup raw quinoa, pan-toasted while stirring constantly for 2 or 3 minutes)
  • ½ cup raw pepitas (green pumpkin seeds)
  • ½ cup raw sunflower seeds
  • 1½ cups nuts (I use 1 cup sliced almonds and ½ cup chopped walnuts)
  • ¼ cup flaxseed
  • ½ cup raw hemp hearts
  • Dry ingredient to bake separately:
  • 2 cups coconut flakes (coconut chips)
  • Binder:
  • 8 oz. finely chopped Medjool dates
  • ½ cup walnut butter or other nut butter
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 325.
  2. Mix together oats, pepitas, sunflower seeds, nuts, quinoa, flaxseed, and hemp hearts in a large bowl.
  3. Spread mixture onto first baking sheet.
  4. Spread coconut flakes onto a second baking sheet.
  5. Pit dates, chop, process in a food processor until they stick together in a ball. Add nut butter to processor and process until dates and nut butter are well combined. Put date/nut butter into the work bowl of a stand mixer and set aside.
  6. Place both baking sheets in oven.
  7. Bake, stirring every six minutes.
  8. Remove coconut flakes when golden but not dark brown, about 8-10 minutes.
  9. Continue to bake the first baking sheet of granola, stirring every six minutes. Remove from oven after 24 minutes, earlier if the granola starts to brown.
  10. Combine the pan of granola with the date/nut butter paste in the bowl of the stand mixer. Mix together on low for a couple of minutes until the granola is well combined with the date/nut butter paste.
  11. Add coconut flakes, mix together.
  12. Press into cake pan. Cool. Break up and store in a glass jar.

 

Update 9/7: Tried this with commercial almond butter, it worked. I wrote up the nutritional information for the almond butter version. Once I figure out the calories for my homemade walnut butter, I’ll add that too. Healthy ingredients or not, granola is a high-calorie food, so be aware, but not afraid. This granola is more than 50% fat by calories, but it’s healthy fat from nuts and seeds.

Nutritional information for 1/2 cup granola, when made with Trader Joe’s Raw Unsalted Almond Butter:

Calories: 324 Fat:21.1 g Saturated Fat: 5.7 g. Protein: 9.3 g. Sodium: 4.3 mg Carbohydrate 27.4 g Fiber 6.1 g. Sugar 9.9 g. Calcium 56.5 mg.

 

{ 13 comments… read them below or add one }

Kiersten
Twitter:
August 24, 2012 at 1:34 pm

I need to try making granola someday. I don’t eat the store-bought kind because it’s usually either too expensive or not terribly healthy. Everything in here sounds so delicious, though, and I love that it’s sweetened with dates!
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mary mary September 7, 2012 at 3:18 pm

Thanks, Kiersten! You are right the store-bought kind tends to be pricey even though it’s made from cheap, not terribly healthy ingredients– usually mostly oats, sugar, and vegetable oil.
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Hannah
Twitter:
August 24, 2012 at 2:21 pm

Finally, a granola recipe that’s actually different! After a while, they all start to sound the same… Tons of sugar, and often butter, too. This is all the more perfect because I somehow ended up with three separate bags of hemp seeds in my freezer, and nothing to do with them. I might toy around with a peanut butter version to use up another surplus. :)
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mary mary September 7, 2012 at 3:21 pm

If you try a peanut butter version please let me know how it is– I’m allergic to peanuts so I’m never going to be able to test that version myself.
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Jane
Twitter:
August 25, 2012 at 4:46 am

Yum, that sounds really good!
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mary mary September 7, 2012 at 3:32 pm

Thanks, Jane! Going to check out your ‘stuff’ post now.
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Kiran from KiranTarun.com
Twitter:
August 25, 2012 at 4:27 pm

Delicious flavors in this granola recipe. I love eating oats and putting granola as toppings. Yum!!!!
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Meg
Twitter:
August 25, 2012 at 11:03 pm

OH MY GOODNESS! I just discovered your blog and I AM IN LOVE! What an amazing recipe! I have never made a homemade granola before, but this looks like something I would LOVE!

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mary mary September 2, 2012 at 5:18 am

Thanks, Meg! Stop by again, and if you try the granola, let me know how you like it.

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Corri December 5, 2012 at 12:23 am

Thank you for this recipe. It was very easy and I can’t believe how delicious granola can be without oil or sugar. This has been my breakfast many days running now!

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mary mary December 5, 2012 at 12:29 am

Thanks, Corri! I’m so happy to get your positive report! What kind of nut butter did you use in your version?
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The Wimpy Vegetarian January 13, 2013 at 9:45 pm

This looks so healthy Mary! I love the addition of the dates and I’ve never added quinoa – what a terrific idea!! Hemp is something I should experiment more with. I know we did in school, but I can’t remember now what we made or if I tasted it :-). I really need to revisit this.
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mary mary January 13, 2013 at 10:15 pm

The hemp hearts are good! I was kind of surprised by that because I dislike hemp milk. You can sprinkle hemp hearts on top of things like casseroles just like you might use wheat germ. Thanks for the visit!
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