Updated: Feb 3
No added sweeteners and no extracts in this vegan, grain-free goodness!
For the printable recipe PDF click here.
Before we dive into the recipe for this delicious grain-free granola, let me just issue a quick disclaimer:
There is a chance this granola falls under the notorious "Whole30 pancake rule," which prohibits re-creation of sweets and bad-habit foods with compliant ingredients. However, this granola is just ever-so-lightly sweet, and I feel like most people already view granola as a sort of health food, rather than something to secure their next sugar fix, anyway.
So my (highly unofficial) ruling is this: if granola is your junk-food or sugar-binge of choice when not on a Whole30, this recipe would violate Whole30 protocol for you. If not, grab a spoon, and let's do this!
My Whole30 recipe is quite similar to my original paleo granola recipe, but there are two main differences: pitted dates are used instead of added sugar from natural sweeteners like honey or maple syrup, and vanilla powder is used instead of vanilla extract (which contains alcohol).
The main things that separate both of these granola recipes from traditional homemade granola are the exclusion of oats and less reliance on sugar in general. We're going for just a touch of sweetness here.
This vegan granola is dairy free and a tasty source of plant protein, healthy fats, fiber, and minerals such as potassium, magnesium, and iron.
Critical equipment for best results:
a food processor
a high-powered blender
a VERY large bowl
If you don't have a good blender or don't want to dirty up extra appliances (and I feel you there!), you could get away with just the food processor, but I feel like the wet ingredients process more thoroughly in the blender.
Basically, you will use the food processor to chop large quantities of a variety of nuts, and you will use the blender to liquify soaked dates along with melted coconut oil and just a tiny bit of warm water. I like to add cinnamon, cardamom, sea salt, ground vanilla, and a drop or two of orange essential oil to this mixture for added flavor.
If you wish to do it all in the food processor, just be sure to chop the nuts first so that you do not have to rinse and dry the processor in between the two uses.
Soak your dates for at least 10 minutes so that they liquify well.
Make sure your coconut oil is melted. You can chop nuts while you heat the oil. Room temperature coconut oil won't blend well.
Be sure to check your dates for pits! They can wreak havoc on both food processors and blenders.
Chop one type of nuts at a time, and don't overload the processor, otherwise some will be nut butter by the time others get chopped.
Leave coconut flakes, sunflower seeds, and pumpkin seeds whole.
Whole30 granola creates great options for easy, egg-free breakfasts, which are often in high-demand come the second half of a Whole30. I love to have a bowl of granola with fresh berries, a few slices of banana, and a splash of almond milk or coconut milk--it's a great alternative to commercially available paleo cereals that may contain added sweeteners and always cost a pretty penny. The monsters love this granola parfait-style with coconut-milk yogurt and frozen fruit. In a rush on crazy school-day mornings, however, they'll just toss the plain granola in bag and gobble it up like trail mix. For a truer trail-mix experience, you could add cacao nibs and either raisins or another kind of small, unsweetened, dried fruit.
Here's what you'll need:
17 pitted dates
Hot water for soaking
½ cup coconut oil
2 cups almonds
2 cups pecan halves
2 cups walnuts
1 cup roasted, salted pistachios
¼ cup roasted, salted, hulled sunflower seeds
¼ cup roasted, salted pepitas (pumpkin seeds)
7 oz unsweetened coconut flakes, not shredded
1 tsp ground cinnamon
¼ tsp ground cardamom
¼ tsp ground vanilla
2-4 drops orange essential oil (optional; or 1 tsp orange zest if preferred)
Here's what you'll do:
Place the dates in a heatproof bowl or mug, cover completely with hot water, and let soak for at least 10 minutes.
Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 300 degrees F. and line two rimmed sheet pans with parchment paper so that the paper extends a couple of inches over each side.
Melt the coconut oil and set aside.
Place almonds in the food processor and pulse several times until most of the almonds have been coarsely chopped. Transfer to the large bowl and repeat separately with pecans, walnuts, and pistachios.
Add the sunflower seeds, pepitas, and flaked coconut to the large bowl.
Measure out 1 T of the soaking water from the dates, and add it to the blender along with the melted coconut oil. Strain off and discard the remaining water, and add the strained dates to the blender. Add the remaining ingredients (cinnamon-orange oil), and blend on high until completely smooth.
Pour the date mixture over the nut mixture, and stir to combine until all the wet mixture has been evenly distributed. At first it will look like there is not enough, but just keep stirring.
Divide the granola mixture between the two sheet pans, spreading out in as thin a layer as possible, and bake at 300 for 20 minutes, stirring the granola and rotating the pans halfway through.
Let the granola cool for 5 minutes in the pans, then carefully lift the parchment sheets out. Spread the granola out a little on the parchment to finish cooling.
Store in airtight containers at room temperature for up to 1 month. Serve like cereal with almond or coconut milk, or layer with coconut yogurt and berries to make a breakfast parfait.
For the printable recipe PDF click here.