There are a few different granola camps. This one falls squarely in the great, everyday, healthy granola category. Instead of the cookies masquerading as granola camp. It is my new favorite thing, and I’ve had it on my counter for weeks now. Give it a go!
Midnight black and deeply chocolate-flavored with dark black cocoa and cocoa nibs, this granola is packed with heart-healthy oats and seeds. Naturally sweetened, clumpy, and crunchy, the recipe calls for just a small splash of olive oil, and leverages a secret ingredient to bring it all together.
Is Homemade Granola Bad for You?
This is a question I get asked a lot. The short answer is, many granolas have a lot of sugar in them. And, many granolas have a lot of unnecessary added fat or oils. We’re essentially talking about cookies in clumpy form, which, I think we can all agree is delicious. As the foundation for your daily breakfast? Laugh / cry. My hope is today’s recipe will be a nice alternative.
My Healthy Granola Inspiration
In Los Angeles last month, I finally made it to beautiful Botanica. After dinner, Emily Fiffer, one of the inspiring owners, sent us home with a tote of treats for our long drive back to San Francisco. Included was a jar of Botanica’s Cacao Coconut Granola. In short, it was a (serious) granola revelation - crunchy, clumpy, deeply chocolate flavored, short ingredient list. The Botanica granola was the jumping off point for this recipe, and if you want to take that recipe for a spin as well, you can find it here.
The main tweaks? I used whipped aquafaba (the liquid in a can of chickpeas) as the binder, allowing me to scale back the added oil by a good chunk. Black cacao gives you that midnight chocolate flavor reminiscent of Oreo cookies, but regular cocoa powder is also great! And, I dial back the sweetness a shade.
The Magic of Aquafaba
Have a look below. What you're seeing is aquafaba. If you have a can of chickpeas, you have enough aquafaba for this recipe (the liquid in the can). It is whipped into peaks, and the other granola ingredients are folded in. It's a fantastic medium for granola acting as a binder, helping to deliver that clumpy magic everyone loves. Aquafaba behaves much like whipped egg whites, but by making granola with aquafaba you can do a version that can be enjoyed by a wider range of people, including vegans and people trying to work more whole food plant-based meals into their diet. And now I'm itching to remake this rose petal granola using this technique!
If you're going for healthy granola, you're going to want to opt for healthful toppings. I like this granola served over yogurt, with a side of whatever seasonal fruit looks good. You can see it pictured here alongside sliced bananas and strawberries. There is a sprinkling of goji berries and rose petals as well. It's also good in a simple bowl of mylk or milk - I like almond or oat.
The Perfect Healthy Granola
Aquafaba is the liquid from a can of chickpeas, each can yields about 1/2 cup. If you cook your chickpeas from scratch, you can use that cooking liquid (aquafaba), and it will work as well. I've tested both with this recipe. To make this an oil-free granola, omit the olive oil. I find the splash of olive oil lends a nice snap to the granola, but it’s also good without!
- 2 cups rolled oats, not quick cooking
- 5 tablespoons black cocoa powder or cocoa powder
- 1/4 cup sunflower seeds
- 1/4 cup white sesame seeds
- 1/4 cup quinoa crispies, (optional)
- 1/4 cup cacao nibs
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 cup aquafaba*
- 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
- 1/3 cup runny honey, maple syrup, coconut nectar, or date syrup
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1/2 cup unsweetened toasted coconut flakes
Preheat your oven to 335°F with a rack in the center. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
In a large bowl combine the rolled oats, cocoa, seeds, quinoa crisps (optional), cacao nibs, and salt. Use an electric mixer on high speed to whip the aquafaba into floppy peaks. This can take five minutes or so. Use a spatula to gently fold in the olive oil, honey, and vanilla extract. Pour this mixture over the dry ingredients, and fold into a uniform mass.
Transfer the granola onto your baking sheet. Rub your hands with a bit of olive oil, and pat the mixture into a thin, solid, single layer. Really try to get it as thin as possible, this will result in the best crunchy texture after baking. Bake for 15 minutes, stir, pat down again, and bake for another 15 minutes. Stir one more time, assess, and (possibly) bake for another 5-10 minutes. Keep a close eye on the whole baking process, the granola can burn in a flash, and it’s hard to see it toasting because it is so dark from the cocoa. The key is knowing when to pull the granola from the oven. You need to go long enough to get crunchy granola in the end, pull it too soon, and your granola will still be tasty, but will lack crunch.
Remove from the oven and stir in the coconut flakes. Allow to cool completely before serving or storing, this can take an hour or two. Store in air-tight glass jars to keep the granola crunchy.