Man, I love homemade granola. Sometimes I forget how much. These days I usually start my day with a green smoothie or juice rather than a bowl of cereal. But honestly, by mid-morning I’m in need of a snack and this tropical granola kind of hits the spot in a way nothing else can.
I’ve been making my own for several years now and I love doing it because I am able to control what I put into it and how much. And the possibilities are endless. So many combinations, so little time! It can also be hard to find really good gluten-free granola. This tropical granola sort of came together one day as I was going through my baking cupboard. That’s the same cupboard that houses all the dried fruit and nuts I keep stocked away. I started pulling out bags of this and that and thought, “Gee, this would make a kickin’ granola.” And it did, friends. It really did.
I wanted my version of tropical granola to be a little different than the ones I saw in my online search. I wasn’t quite sure where to begin however. Almost everyone listed sweetened dried fruit, tons of oil and sugar, and other stuff I didn’t want to put into my granola. Granola is pretty high-calorie anyway, but I wanted to shave off a few here and there to make it a bit healthier. I’m not opposed to healthy calories, just the empty kind.
I did see an interesting idea for using pureed pineapple (or was it juice?) to help sweeten it. I loved that idea! It really added an extra tropical element to the granola. Instead of brown sugar, I used a little bit of maple syrup, but because the dried fruit is so sweet, I felt like I didn’t want to add much. It’s very difficult to find dried bananas that haven’t been fried. I haven’t made my own yet, which is preferable, so that’s the only iffy ingredient on the list. Everything else is 100% natural, unsulphured, and unsweetened.
A lot of granola recipes call for wheat germ. I left that out to make it completely gluten-free. I used GF oats and quinoa flakes – in combinations with pineapple puree, it yielded crunchy little clusters. I ate it with homemade almond milk as a mid-morning snack for a boost of energy or as an after-school snack for my kids. It keeps pretty well for 2-3 weeks, but is very best eaten the week it’s made.
The result was great! I pretty much could not stop wanting to snack on it. It wasn’t very sweet – it was satisfying though.
Here are some other healthier, naturally sweetened homemade granola options:
Date Sweetened Granola from Naturally Ella
Coconut Granola from Two Peas and Their Pod
Honey Almond Granola from Cookie + Kate
Walnut Granola Clusters from The Roasted Root
Paleo Maple Cinnamon Granola from An Edible Mosaic
Chocolate Coconut Granola from Texanerin
Healthy Granola from The Daring Gourmet
Almond Joy Granola from My Whole Food Life
- 1½ cups gluten-free old fashioned oats (not instant)
- 1½ cup quinoa flakes (or more GF oats)
- 1 cup unsweetened shredded coconut
- ½ cup raw cashew pieces
- 2 Tablespoons whole flax seeds
- 2½ cups diced dried tropical fruit (unsweetened pineapple, unsweetened mango, banana chips, candied ginger, dates)
- 1 heaping cup fresh or frozen pineapple to yield ½ cup pineapple puree
- ¼ to ¼ cup maple syrup (depending on the level of desired sweetness)
- 2 Tablespoons coconut oil, melted if solid
- 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
- ¼ teaspoon sea salt
- Preheat oven to 325 degrees F. Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper.
- Combine oats, quinoa flakes, coconut, cashews, and flax seeds in a large mixing bowl.
- In a small bowl, whisk together the pineapple puree, maple syrup, coconut oil, vanilla, and salt. Pour over the dry ingredients. Mix well.
- Pour over the lined baking sheet and bake for 40-50 minutes, stirring every 10 minutes, until golden.
- Let cool completely then add the dried fruit. Transfer to an airtight container.
Yields: 7 cups. Each serving is ½ cup (14 servings)
Might take less time depending on your oven. Be sure to watch the last 10-20 minutes so it doesn't burn.