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feel good food that's good for you

 so cocoa granolaDon’t you just love it when you come across something that does double, or even triple, duty? I’m not talking about moisturiser, or Swiss army knives (which if the latter is really swish will do about a 36 jobs, including scale fish and remove the  hook – cool Crimbo pressie?). As always, I am talking food. This food specifically, cocoa granola.

so cocoa granolaI have waxed (un)lyrically about the perils of shop bought granola previously, and provided a suitable home-baked substitute for these desserts masquerading as healthy cereals. My Good-For-You Granola with its 4 grains and various nuts, seeds and fruit is my mainstay granola, and quite a number of my friends say they make it, with their own tweaks of course. It rocks, basically. If I dare let it run out I soon hear about it. And have chivvying notes left about it from super-fan Miss R To wit: ‘Make more granola today. Please.’

But I wanted to simplify and de-fat my approach, and still give a great taste that keeps everyone happy – dieters, growing children, fusspots, ‘normal’ people. I think this is it. If you loved (still love?) Cocoa Puffs and the like as a child, you’ll love this. Pinky swear.

I wasn’t initially going to ditch the oil, after all it is in most granola recipes, in varying amounts. But I realised when playing around with the base syrup that I didn’t need added fat to give a good result, I just needed it to be an adhering liquid. And the water-sugar alchemy does that job just fine. I found that with slow even baking, the natural fats in the grains are released, and offers the rich, rounded taste that fat imparts. The malt syrup helps too, but is completely fabby without. The only thing that may set it apart from the rest of the cereal pack is the lack of shine. But that’s a trifle in my book. Shine is great for hair, but not necessary for breakfast foods. But, if you want the lacquered look, and a few more calories, go ahead and add 2-3 tablespoons of neutral olive oil or rapeseed/canola oil to the syrup-making step. It will still be a heck of lot lower fat, not to mention fresher, than shop bought. Cheaper too.

As to its versatility, I don’t need to tell you that aside from breakfast, this cocoa-luscious and fibre-filled cereal makes a super and super-healthy snack (about a heaped quarter cup with some fruit added) and crunchy topper for all manner of desserts: crumbles, cobblers, crisps; in a sweet yeasted bread; with plain creamy  desserts; layered with a berry compote and yogurt. I have also had it mixed into porridge, which may seem redundant, but gives a subtle taste and crunch to this most comforting of breakfasts. You can even sprinkle in some mini chocolate chips or cacao nibs for yet more luxury.

So, not quite as versatile as Swiss army knife, but a pretty darn tasty and healthy way to start – or end – the day.

 so cocoa granolaSo Cocoa Granola 

Last Year: Butternut Squash and Tofu Curry Laksa
Miss R’s Track of the Week: Peter Robinson (piano cover of) “Language”
The secret to this simple no-added fat granola is time – patience and a little time. Good granola, granola worthy of not only breakfast, but also snack and dessert, needs a low oven, a little stirring and about 45 minutes of your time. Precious, I know. But oh so worth it. 
Use any combination of whole grains that you like: all oats, oats and barley flakes, rye and oats, or as I have here, with oats, barley and some light-as-air amaranth puffs. As for the add-ins, keep them simple. Don’t go too crazy; let the cocoa shine. I would keep it at one nut and one or two seeds (obviously not literally), and resist chucking in some dried fruit. Keep the fruit – fresh or dried – for serving, especially if you are making this for the whole family (Although you may like it so much you keep your own secret stash!). That way everyone can customise each serving. I used banana in some of the images, but dried figs, sour cherries and snips of prunes are gorgeous too. 
150g (scant 2/3 packed cup) dark brown sugar
4 tbsp water
2 heaped tbsp dark treacle/blackstrap molasses OR 1 tbsp treacle and 2 tbsp malt syrup
1 tbsp vanilla extract (optional, but adds depth) 
pinch of salt
250g (2 & 3/4 cup) whole grain rolled oats (the big, ‘jumbo’ kind) 
100g (1 heaped cup) whole grain barley flakes
15g (about a ¼ cup) amaranth puffs or quinoa puffs/soufflé (optional)
100g (1 & 1/4 cups) pecan nuts, roughly chopped
2 tbsp pumpkin seeds
2 tbsp flaxseeds seeds
4 tbsp cocoa powder (I use Green & Blacks)
1) In a large saucepan, melt together the sugar, treacle, vanilla – if using – and water. Let it bubble up briefly, then turn off the heat; give it a good stir, adding in the salt.
2) Pour in the grains, seeds and cocoa powder. Stir the granola very well. I use a thin-edged, silicone sauce spatula.
3) Pour the granola onto two (or more) baking paper-lined trays and bake at 140C/285F for 45 minutes, stirring twice. I find it easiest to use a wide-ish spatula to scoop up the granola from the centre and pile it in the middle, then gently encouraging it all to be a single layer again, displacing the centre grains to the outside. 
4) Remove the granola from the oven and let it sit and completely cool on the trays before decanting to a suitable airtight container. This granola should last for two weeks.
Serving suggestions: with fruit and milk or yogurt for breakfast; instead of crumble or cobbler mixture; on ice cream; added to baking; with custard; as a snack on its own. How would you have it? so cocoa granola

29 thoughts on “So Cocoa Granola (no added fat)

  1. laura_howtocook says:

    What a fantastic granola recipe. Now this is something you have inspired me to make and I just know I will keep making it. I love how many great ingredients you have used and it is so interesting to know that you really don’t need the oil apart from for the aesthetic glisten!

    1. I think most granola recipes can be adapted to cut out or drastically lessen oil. Leaves more fat for other things where you can appreciate the taste. Goosefat roast potatoes, perhaps??

  2. Tanya Phillips says:

    This sounds so yummy, will have to try. So glad I found your blog today, thanks!

    1. No, thank YOU for finding me!

  3. lemoncake says:

    This looks great! I love a healthy granola recipe 🙂

  4. I’m definitely going to try this, sounds excellent.

    1. Thanks Miss Janice! Lovely to hear from you

  5. Ooh I do love cocoa granola. I have had one with cocoa nibs in . Have always been scared to make at home but will try your recipe out as it looks and sounds delicious!

    1. Add the oil if you want the granola like the commercial brands. It might be too ‘hardcore’ for your wee one otherwise! Sour cherries & cocoa nibs are my favourite add in (just for me though). Hope you like it!

  6. Thanks for all the love, YOU! I’m rushing out of my office for a bowl of afternoon granola as we speak!

    1. Afternoon granola, great idea!

  7. I LOVE your new ID photo! You look great!

    1. Ah shucks. I was doing a photo shoot at work (don’t ask…). & asked Lesley the photographer to take one with my camera. I need to get my haircut big time though!

  8. WOW! This granola looks and sounds amazing! I really need to start making my own granola instead of buying that heavily processed, sugary stuff. And I love the pic of your hands cradling the granola in a sweet heart shape.

    1. Thanks so much! My lovely hand model is Miss R, my daughter. I thought ‘granola, heart-healthy, oh! heart shaped granola!’ Glad you noticed 😉

  9. Yum! I just tried a new granola recipe over the weekend and it turned out just okay, so I’m itching for a better one. I have a chocolate coconut granola on my blog with no added sugar – it’s sweetened with pureed dates and is intensely chocolately with just a couple of tablespoons of coconut oil. Mmmm. I’ll have to give this version a try as well, I think I’ve got almost all of the ingredients in the cupboard.

    1. Yours sounds really yum – puréed dates mmm. I was just going for as few steps as possible this time. Like brownie recipes, there are so many granola recipes to try! Thanks for your idea Katie

  10. All of my favorite things are in this granola! I’ve actually thought about adding cocoa powder to my own granola recipe, and still might try it some time. Everything tastes better with chocolate, right?!

  11. thespicyrd says:

    Love the heart shaped granola photo {and of course the blue nail polish!} Can you believe I have a zillion {ok-maybe 10} granola recipes pinned, but still haven’t made a single one? Tsk, tsk! Your cocoa version looks delicious & it you swear it’s for Cocoa Puffs lovers, count me in!!

    1. Your probably have a gorgeous one on your blog anyway. Glad you like the cocoa idea. It’s easy to pop it into many granola recipes, but I still think it’s good to keep the add-ins minimal. I hope you had a wonderful family time on Thanksgiving.

  12. chefconnie says:

    Very nice granola recipe. I love making granola and it is so easy and tasty.

  13. Jacqueline @How to be a Gourmand says:

    Kellie, love how you introduce wonderful combinations. Delicious breakfast!
    Hope you and the family have a Happy Thanksgiving ( I appreciate you may not have a day off in Scotland ;-( )

    1. Thanks for your sweet comment & good wishes. I thought Thanksgiving was next week! Totally not organised for a Thanksgiving dinner, let alone a veggie post on it! Must get a US online calendar ;-).

  14. Hannah says:

    Gorgeous looking granola. Chocolate for breakfast is definitely a winner!

  15. I once made cocoa granola that was recipe from an America friend, and this reminds me of her recipe, which, was just amazing as this looks Kellie! Who wouldn’t love a bowl of this for breakkie! Proper lush! Karen

  16. Happy thanksgiving too! Karen xxxx

  17. Although I’ve made crispy apple crisp without oil (applesauce does the trick), it never occurred to me that I could do the same with granola. Will be giving oilless granola a try next time we make a batch. The granola looks great, as does your new profile picture (and the juxtaposition of the images neatly makes the point about hair benefitting more from shine than granola does).

    1. You are so sweet – & not at all oily! Ha ha 😀

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