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Tropical Granola

John’s uncle made a few batches of his delicious granola for the family to enjoy while vacationing at the Outer Banks this past week, and it reminded me just how fantastic homemade granola can be. I ate more than my fair share of the sweet, buttery granola, and savored every single crunchy bite. Once we arrived back home in Boston, I found myself craving a light & healthy homemade granola with bright, beachy flavors.

I started with the base of rolled oats, puffed brown rice cereal, and applesauce that I used for my Cranberry Pecan Granola, and tailored the recipe to fulfill my desire for a tropical flavor profile. I subbed in agave nectar for the maple syrup and coconut extract for the vanilla, added a bit of ground ginger, and finished the granola off with cashews, a trio of dried tropical fruits, and unsweetened coconut flakes.

The aroma of the baking granola was one I wish I could bottle and open in the middle of winter when a desire for the tropics strikes. The ground ginger and coconut extract perfumed the air so richly that I could easily conjure an image of a hammock swinging lazily in the ocean breeze under two palm trees, a fruity drink with an umbrella perched on top sweating in the sunshine.

Are you ready to make this Tropical Granola yet?

If not, allow me to tempt you further. The oil-less granola miraculously crisps up into crunchy clusters, which are pleasantly complimented by the chewy dried fruit and coconut flakes. The no-sugar-added dried bananas, mango, and pineapple are surprisingly sweet all on their own, and contribute the perfect trifecta of tropical fruit flavor. The lack of butter is unapparent thanks to the natural richness of the cashews and unsweetened coconut flakes.

This low-sugar and moderately low-fat granola is so tasty that I am fairly certain I will be making another batch in the very near future, and I hope that you do as well!

Tropical Granola

Ingredients:

  • 1 1/2 cups rolled oats
  • 1 1/2 cups puffed brown rice cereal
  • 6 Tbsp unsweetened applesauce
  • 1/4 cup agave nectar
  • 1/2 tsp pure coconut extract
  • 1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp ground ginger
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/2 cup chopped cashews or macadamia nuts
  • 1/2 cup diced dried mixed tropical fruit, such as mango, banana, and pineapple, preferably unsweetened & unsulfured
  • 1/4 cup unsweetened coconut flakes

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees F. Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper.
  2. Measure the oats and rice cereal into a large bowl, set aside.
  3. In a medium bowl, whisk together the applesauce, agave nectar, coconut extract, cinnamon, ginger, and salt. Whisk until very smooth.
  4. Pour wet ingredients over cereal and stir until evenly coated. Spread mixture on the prepared cookie sheet in an even layer.
  5. Bake for 20 minutes. Remove sheet from the oven, stir the nuts into the granola, and bake for an additional 10-15 minutes, or until the granola is golden brown and crisp.
  6. Remove granola from the oven, toss with the dried fruit and coconut flakes, and cool completely. Store in an airtight container.

*The bowl pictured in the first four photographs was a gift that my parents picked out during a recent trip to Maine. Susan Horowitz of Ash Cove Pottery has been hand-making pottery since the 1970s. Her pottery is oven, microwave, and dishwasher safe, and each piece is distinctive. I love how she describes the inspiration for her artwork: “My inscribed and brushwork decorations are based on the patterns left in the sand by the receding tide.” How very apropos then, to use this gorgeous vessel for photographing my Tropical Granola!

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