I'm a cereal girl- I used to prefer cereal to any other meal. Back when I was in college (yes that was 10 years ago), when I'd come home, my mom would ask me what I wanted for dinner, and I'd just shrug and say "cereal." She thought I was joking (or maybe just wouldn't allow it)- but I wasn't. I love cereal. And granola has always been a favorite, with its sweet oats, crunchy clusters, and mix of textures. Granola is also the perfect multi-tasking cereal- breakfast with milk; lunch with yogurt and fruit; snack-time in your hand; mixed with chocolate chips or on top of froyo for dessert. And luckily, it's so easy to make, and easy to alter the flavors. This "tropical" variation I love, and I included some healthy add-ins too.
I woke up craving granola, and in less than an hour I had this yumminess made.
Healthy Tropical Granola
Adapted from my Low-Fat Banana Maple Granola recipe
- 2.5 cups oats (1 cup quick, 1.5 cup rolled- see note below)
- 2 tsp cinnamon
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1.5 Tbsp whole flax seeds
- 1 Tbsp coconut oil, melted (measured before melting; you can easily omit this and just use a little more banana and/or yogurt)
- 2 Tbsp mashed banana (a little less than 1/2 small banana)
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 1/4 cup vanilla coconut palm sugar (for more on coconut palm sugar and maple syrup, see the bottom of this post)
- 2 Tbsp+ 1 tsp maple syrup (I used Grade B- trust me, seek it out.)
- 2-3 Tbsp apricot soy yogurt (or vanilla, coconut, or mango yogurt of choice)
- 3 Tbsp coconut flakes
- ~1/4 cup chopped nuts - I used almonds and walnuts
- 1-2 dates, pitted & chopped
- ~1/4 cup additional dried fruit, chopped: such as dried mangos, pineapple, pears, apricots, and/or papaya
- Preheat oven to 325F. Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper.
- Mix together the oats, cinnamon, salt, and flax seeds in a bowl.
- In a separate bowl, mix together the banana, sugar, extract, syrup, and yogurt.
- Pour the dry into the wet and coat well.
- Spread on the baking sheet in a flat layer.
- Bake for 15 minutes, then gently stir with a spatula, flipping lightly if you want to maintain large clumps. Return to oven and bake for another 15 minutes.
- Add in the nuts, coconut, and dried fruit, and bake for a final 10 minutes, until the coconut is lightly browned and toasted.
- Allow to cool for 10-15 minutes prior to serving. Store in air tight container.
Half way through making this, I remembered I had seen a post on Vanilla & Spice for tropical granola a while ago, so I checked her site for tips on baking the coconut flakes. Check out her recipe for another delicious-looking version! Banana chips would be really good in here.
I was really happy with this lightly sweet, hint of tropical granola. Plus, it uses less oil than most granola recipes, but adds in healthy fats from the flax seeds and walnuts for your omega-3s. The coconut palm sugar is also low in calories but still has a deliciously brown-sugar like taste.
I also loved the dried fruit in this mix- dates, dried mango (you know me and my mango!), dried pears from my local farmer's marker, and the coconut flakes that got nice and toasty. Trader Joe's has some good bagged mixes of tropical dried fruits, and I think dried papaya, which is often in those bags, would be delicious in here as well.
This was really tasty mixed with the leftover yogurt from the recipe (I used T.Joe's apricot soy yogurt, but I bet a coconut milk yogurt would be great with it too). It also goes perfectly with some unsweetened vanilla almond milk and banana slices.
Every time I make a batch of granola, I think, "I should probably double this so it'll last a while..." but then I never do.... silly me.