I’m back at the hospital burning the midnight oil, but I still have visions of sandy beaches, tropical drinks, and snorkeling alongside sea turtles dancing in my head. That’s the problem with vacation: it has an annoying tendency to end.
I’m trying to hold onto as much island zen as possible, though. One of the vacation treats that I can’t get out of my head is an açaí bowl topped with crunchy house-made “Paleonola” that we enjoyed at a sunny vegan cafe the other day in Lahaina. Naturally, upon returning home, I felt compelled to tackle a grain-free granola recipe. (The rest of the açaí bowl’s on my list of to-dos, too.)
Just for the record: Yes, I know “Paleo granola” is an oxymoron. There was a time when I thought that granola was a health food that I could and should eat on a daily basis, but the times they are a-changin’. I know granola—grain-free or not— is “treat” food that should be eaten only in moderation, and not an everyday breakfast superfood. But with that disclaimer out of the way, let me just say that just a handful of this stuff delivers a mildly-sweet, nutty, tropical crunch like nothing else.
As soon as we came home the other night, I started tinkering in the kitchen with different nut, seed, and sweeteners. It took a few batches, but I finally got it just right: crunchy, not too sweet, and with flavors that remind me of my favorite fruity drinks with tiny umbrellas stuck in ’em. Make a batch and share with your pals!
Yield: 7 cups
- 1 cup cubed fresh pineapple (approximately 1-inch cubes) or canned pineapple cubes (in 100% fruit juice)
- 5 large Medjool dates, pitted and roughly chopped (approximately ½ cup)
- 2 tablespoons orange juice
- 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
- 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- ½ cup coconut oil, melted
- 3 cups raw almonds (I use a combination of raw almonds that are roughly chopped, slivered, and sliced.)
- 3 cups raw unsweetened coconut flakes
- 1 cup raw macadamia nuts, roughly chopped
- ½ cup raw sunflower seeds
- ½ teaspoon kosher salt
- High speed blender or food processor
- Dry measuring cups
- Measuring spoons
- Chef’s knife
- Cutting board
- Large bowl
- Silicone spatula
- Two rimmed baking sheets
- Parchment paper
Before you get your hands dirty, preheat the oven to 250°F with two racks evenly spaced. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper, foil, or silicone liners.
In a food processor or high speed blender, add the pineapple…
Blitz until everything is liquefied.
Pour in the melted coconut oil…
…and blend until smooth.
In a large bowl, combine the almonds…
…coconut flakes, macadamia nuts…
…sunflower seeds, and salt.
Toss well with your hands.
Spoon the wet ingredients on top of the dry…
…and mix well.
Divide the Paleo granola onto the two lined baking sheets…
…and spread it into a thin single layer.
Place the trays in the oven to cook for approximately 2 hours.
Toss the granola about every 20 minutes and rotate the trays at the one hour mark. Watch the granola like a hawk in the last half hour—it can go from golden brown to burnt in a blink of an eye.
In the meantime, your house will smell awesome. You’ll want to eat the furniture.
When the granola is golden-brown, take the trays out of the oven and cool to room temperature.
Pack your homemade Paleo granola in a sealed container, and it’ll last for a couple of weeks (assuming you and your loved ones don’t demolish it first!).