Almost every Wednesday night in Okinawa is reserved for one thing: The Bachelor (or Bachelorette, for this time of year). Realistically, it’s just an excuse for my group of friends to see each other every week, talk and eat snacks. My friend, Jessi, would occasionally bring her fabulous granola to our girl’s nights and, I’m not going to lie, I always wanted to steal the entire bowl and not share a single piece. It was that delicious. Luckily, Jessi nicely shared her recipe with me before she moved and, with a few adjustments, now I’m sharing it with all of you!
Granola is commonly known as an unhealthy “health” food. Many versions are made with a lot of sugar, making them high in carbohydrates and, therefore, calories, without providing much protein or other nutrients. This recipe is not low in calories either (you were warned), but it does have a better balance of fat, carbohydrates and protein than many processed versions. Nuts and seeds all provide healthier mono- and poly- unsaturated fats as well as 4 grams of protein per serving, which will keep you full for longer. Plus, the recipe only uses honey and maple syrup as sweeteners for anyone concerned about refined sugars. If all of those healthy buzzwords don’t catch your eye, it’s also naturally gluten free.
What I love most about this granola is the warm, toasted flavor that comes through in every bite. After being tossed in a honey, maple syrup and cinnamon mixture, almonds, pecans, pumpkin seeds and shredded coconut are baked in the oven until golden brown and infused with flavor. The smell coming from your oven will be phenomenal! Dried cranberries and cherries are mixed in after baking, which provide a welcome, tart contrast to the sweet nut mixture. Jessi’s original recipe is delicious, gooey and almost like eating dessert. I wanted something I could eat for breakfast so I significantly reduced the amount of honey, maple syrup and coconut oil in the recipe. My version is still sweet, just not overly so, and now has a lot more crunch. It’s perfect by the handful, sprinkled over a bowl of Greek yogurt or stirred into a smoothie. I even caught my husband, who never eats Greek yogurt and rarely eats breakfast, eating this the other morning. With that kind of success, I’m sure it will be making many more appearances at girl’s nights, and breakfasts, in the future!