The Perfect Healthy Granola (Low Oil & Naturally Sweetened)

The Perfect Healthy Granola (Low Oil & Naturally Sweetened)

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.

The Perfect Healthy Granola Recipe

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 Perfect Healthy Granola Recipe

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!

The Perfect Healthy Granola Recipe

The Perfect Healthy Granola Recipe

Serving Ideas

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 Recipe

Enjoy the granola! If you're looking for other breakfast recipes don't miss these pancakes, or the best waffle recipe (seriously!), these homemade cinnamon rolls, a loaded frittata, tofu scramble, Herb Cream Cheese Scrambled Eggs, and the baked oatmeal is always popular.
The Perfect Healthy Granola Recipe

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The Perfect Healthy Granola

4.84 from 18 votes

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!

Ingredients
  • 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
Instructions
  1. Preheat your oven to 335°F with a rack in the center. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
Serves
8
Prep Time
10 mins
Cook Time
40 mins
Total Time
50 mins
 
If you make this recipe, I'd love to see it - tag it #101cookbooks on Instagram!

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Comments

  • This recipe is amazing and I'm going to try it a second time. I had to throw out the first batch because I did NOT pay attention as you caution, and I burned the batch....I refused to believe it and threw in the coconut as well! I promise to pay attention to the next batch, because....well....cocoa & nibs & less oil!!! Even burned I could tell it could've been great. Aquafaba is my new obsession, as I am a vegan for a mere seven months and I'm trying to avoid saturated fat (coconut milk included) and salt (as much as is humanly possible for a "salt-addict". Thanks for your website I've always gone back to.

    Susan
  • This granola is so amazing! It makes a great cereal, as well :)

    Zoe
  • At the rate my husband burns through granola (breakfast, snack and desserts!) I think I’d better make a double batch, then make a double batch without the cocoa and mix the two together. Perfect little gift for him next week. Thank you, and Merry Christmas!

    Janet
  • Can you freeze aquafaba for later use? Just in case I don't want to make hummus and granola in the same day

    a
  • Looks amazing! Do you think you could use whipped egg whites instead of aquafaba if you didn't need a vegan recipe?

    Sara
  • Granola is actually a great source of vitamins to start the day. Not to mention it goes well with anything at breakfast

    Sandy
  • Hello! I've never heard of aquafaba and am excited to try this. I'd love to add dried fruit to this recipe, but am worried that without the oil it may burn too easily in the oven. If I add it after baking (with the coconut) will the granola lose its crunch and get soggy? What would you recommend? Thank you!

    Emily
    • Hi Emily - Yeah! I think I'd add it after baking, after the granola has cooled completely? Something like that.

      Heidi Swanson
  • Thank you for bringing whipped aquafaba into my life and with it granola back into my life too. I had stopped making and eating it because of the sugar. This is brilliant!

    Neeltje
  • This was fun to make mostly because of the aquafaba. (I had to make my own but then got a nice bonus batch of hummus out of the ordeal.) Also nice to pull dark cocoa out of the back of the pantry. Such a bold flavor, very Oreo. I only added slivered almonds to this batch, but the granola itself is really tasty.

    Bryan
  • I like this informative post style.

    Giselle
  • Hi Heidi! Been following — and cooking — with you for years! Thanks for the inspiration and good health. This looks so yum! I’ll be making a batch today. For a non-chocolate version what would you suggest as replacements for the cocoa and nibs?

    Anita Goin
  • Brilliant use of aquafaba! I’ve used it in cakes but never thought to use it this way. Thanks for a great recipe.

    Deepa
  • This looks amazing, I had such a lovely dinner at Botanica but never made it there for breakfast. I grabbed their lovely Caraway-Date granola which was something special! I'm definitely going to try this but we don't differentiate between cocoas in the UK - what is special about black? xx

    Hannah-Phoebe
  • In case it helps anyone - I used the liquid from a can of great northern beans it worked fine. I also omitted vanilla (ok I forgot it!) and it tastes great! I baked for a total of 32 minutes stirring at - 15 mins then another 10, then finally 7

    Darien
  • Where is this gorgeous bowl from/who made this gorgeous bowl?! It’s a perfect compliment to that incredible looking food!

    Erin
    • Hi Erin - It's one of Wayne's Mitch Iburg bowls - see http://www.mitchiburg.com

      Heidi Swanson
  • Will be up late tonight making this!

    Lukas
  • What are quinoa crispies

    Naomi
    • Hi Naomi - they're like puffed rice, or Rice Crispies, but made from quinoa...

      Heidi Swanson
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