Grain-free granola is a great alternative to classic (oat-based) granola – crunchy, caramel-y, and nutty. You can serve it with plant milk or yogurt, top your smoothie bowl with it, or snack on it throughout the day. It’s vegan, grain-free, and can easily be made nut-free.
What I love most about this grain-free granola is how crunchy it is. I’m talking about a crunch that you can actually hear in your head. While this might not be a big deal for you, crunchiness is something that either makes or breaks the deal for me. As much as I love smoothies and oatmeal, they both lack one important thing: a nice crunch. No matter how much of these foods I eat, I always end up grazing the pantry for nuts, seeds, or even cacao nibs afterwards.
According to neuroscience, what you hear when you bite plays an important role in your experience and enjoyment of food. It turns out that crispness and pleasantness are highly correlated when it comes to our rating of foods. Crispiness is a flavor quality. It’s a sign of freshness. The noise draws attention to the food in the way something silent does not. If you’re eating a banana, your attention can drift elsewhere. But a crunch will draw your attention, making you concentrate on whatever you’re eating.
Once you realize how important the sound is to the overall multi-sensory experience, you stop wondering why food marketers focus on promoting their products on the basis of crunchiness, crispiness, and crackly sounds in their advertisements. Think of all the labels screaming at you “extra crunch”, “exceptionally crunchy”, “stays crunchy even in milk”, or “the crunchy way to say, ‘I love you’”. Food marketers even developed a sophisticated apparatus to measure the perceived level of crunch that consumers hear in their head.
When we hear it, we eat more of it.
Tips for Making Grain-Free Granola
This grain-free granola is extremely customizable. You can use whatever nuts and seeds you have on hand and make the granola your own. While it doesn’t really matter what type of nuts and/or seeds you use, it’s always good to use at least two different varieties. Aim for one kind that is on the harder/crunchier side (e.g. almonds, hazelnuts, pumpkin seeds…) and one kind that is on the softer/chewier side (e.g. pecans, walnuts, sunflower seeds).
If you like dried fruit, add it in. It increases textural variety and adds a new layer of flavor. I tend to use tart dried fruit, such as dried cranberries or cherries, because they provide a beautiful contrast to the maple syrup-sweetened nuts.
Maple syrup and coconut oil bind all the ingredients together, creating little clusters. The maple syrup also keeps everything extra crispy as it caramelizes in the oven.
The easiest and fastest way to chop all the nuts and seeds is to use a food processor. If you’re using nuts/seeds that are similar in size, you can process all the nuts/seeds at the same time. However, if you’re combining bigger nuts (e.g. almonds) with smaller seeds (e.g. sunflower seeds), you’ll want to process the nuts first, so the seeds don’t turn into a powder. That being said, the smaller the pieces, the more clusters you’ll end up with.
If you’re making just a small batch of this granola, a knife is all you need.
Once you have everything chopped up, add all the ingredients (except for the dried fruit, if using) into a large bowl, and fold until everything is well coated and clusters form.
You can either dehydrate the granola or bake it. Oven-baked granola is deep golden and crunchier than the dehydrated version. The dehydrated version is lighter, chewier and clumpier.
More Breakfast Cereal Recipes
Everyone in my family loves this granola. However, to be perfectly honest, I rarely ever eat anything with added sugar (including maple syrup) for breakfast. My husband and kids do, but I don’t. My go-to cereal breakfasts are grain-free muesli (coming on the blog this week) and chia-buckwheat cereal. Both are high in protein, high in fiber, and don’t have any added sweetener.
If you prefer hot breakfast cereals, you might enjoy this flaxseed porridge.
Tools You’ll Need
1. Food Processor (Breville Sous Chef) | 2. Dehydrator (Excalibur 9 Trays) | 3. Dehydrator Sheets (3-Pack, Silicone) | 4. Griddle (12-Inch, Lodge, Cast Iron) | 5. Knife Set (6 Pieces, Utopia, Stainless Steel) | 6. Cutting Board (24″x 18″, Michigan Maple Block, Maple) | 7. Mixing Bowls (Set of 3, Pyrex, Glass) | 8. Measuring Cup (1 Cup, Anchor Hocking, Glass) | 9. Measuring Cups (Set of 6, Bellemain, Stainless Steel) | 10. Measuring Spoons (Set of 6, 1Easylife, Stainless Steel) |
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- Chop the nuts and seeds. Using a knife or a food processor, roughly chop the nuts and seeds. If using a food processor, pulse the nuts first, then add the seeds.
- Mix the ingredients. Add the chopped nuts and seeds, coconut, cinnamon, and salt into a large mixing bowl and stir to combine. Pour in the maple syrup and coconut oil, and fold until all the the nuts and seeds are thoroughly coated. Don't add the dried fruit, if using, until the granola is done baking.
- Bake (baked version only). Preheat the oven to 300°F/150°C. Divide the mixture in half and spread out evenly onto a parchment paper-lined baking sheet. Bake until golden brown, about 30 minutes, stirring every 10 minutes or so to prevent burning,
- Dehydrate (raw version only). Set the dehydrator to 115°F/46°C. Divide the mixture in half and spread out evenly onto a dehydrator tray. Dehydrate until lightly golden, 10-12 hours.
- Mix in the dried fruit (optional).
- Store. Leftover granola keeps well in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 6 weeks. (You can keep the cereal in a cool dry place as well. I just like to store all my nuts and seeds in the refrigerator or the freezer, so they don't become rancid).
*Nutrition information is approximate and may contain errors. Please, feel free to make your own calculations.