Part of the Cook Eat Be Healthy lifestyle is to simplify what I eat. That means pretty much cutting out all processed foods because there’s nothing simple about most of them. The problem with simplifying my diet is that it complicates grabbing a quick snack or meal out of convenience sake. So I’ve learned to plan ahead when possible, have healthy snacks at the ready, and to make more healthful versions of my favorite foods, like my homemade granola! That way I control exactly what goes into it, and I can change it up to suit my mood by adding a variety of different fruits, nuts, and grains!
Today I’m making a Cherry, Almond & Toasted Quinoa Granola. I love the flavors of almond and cherry together, and the toasted quinoa gives it a super crunchy element that I really like! I like to sprinkle it on top of fresh fruit or enjoy a little bowl of granola with fresh cherries and some vanilla almond milk. My husband likes it with vanilla yogurt and fresh cherries. And of course it makes a great snack all by itself!
For this recipe I’m using old-fashioned oats, quinoa, honey, maple syrup, almonds, dried cherries, almond extract, a little salt, some cinnamon, and coconut oil. The very first thing I did was cook the quinoa as usual, then spread it on a jelly roll pan (the same one I’ll be using to bake the granola….the fewer dishes, the better), and pop it in a 350 degree oven for about 12-15 minutes until it just barely starts to turn golden.
While the quinoa is toasting, melt the coconut oil in a large bowl in the microwave, stir in the maple syrup and 1/4 cup honey until the syrup and honey are dissolved in the warm oil. Then add the almond extract, salt, and cinnamon, and stir to combine.
To this mixture add the oats, almonds, and toasted quinoa, and stir well making sure everything is completely coated. Then spread it on the same jelly roll sheet the quinoa was toasted on, and pop it into the oven which has been reduced to 250 degrees. Bake it for one hour, stirring every 15 minutes.
Before returning it to the oven for the last 15 minutes of baking time, add the cherries and drizzle on an additional 2 tablespoons of honey, mix it well, and return it to the oven for the final 15 minutes baking time. When the final baking cycle is complete, remove it from the oven a cool just a few minutes on the baking sheet, then spread it on a piece of parchment paper on the counter to cool completely.
Once it’s cool, I store it in a jar or zip-lock bag in the pantry. This recipe doesn’t make chunky granola – the pieces are much smaller, and I prefer it that way. I just don’t want you to be disappointed when you can’t pick up a big piece and chomp down on it! 😉
- 3 cups old-fashioned oats
- 1/2 cup quinoa, dry
- 1 cup water
- 1/2 cup unsalted almonds
- 1 cup dried cherries
- 1/4 cup plus 2 tbsp honey
- 1/4 cup maple syrup
- 3 tbsp coconut oil
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1/2 tsp cinnamon
- 1/2 tsp almond extract
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
- In small saucepan, combine quinoa with 1 cup water, bring to a boil, cover and reduce heat to low.
- Cook quinoa 15 minutes, until water is absorbed.
- Spread cooked quinoa on a jelly roll pan, place in oven, and toast 12-15 minutes until barely golden in color. Remove from oven and reduce temperature to 250 degrees.
- While quinoa is toasting, melt coconut oil in large bowl in microwave.
- Add maple syrup and 1/4 cup honey into melted coconut oil, stirring until honey and syrup are dissolved.
- To the oil mixture, add the salt, cinnamon, and almond extract. Mix well.
- Add oats, almonds, and toasted quinoa to the large bowl, stirring well until everything is completely coated.
- Evenly spread granola mixture on the same jelly roll pan used for toasting the quinoa and bake at 250 degrees for 1 hour, stirring every 15 minutes.
- Before baking for the final 15 minutes, add the cherries and drizzle on the 2 tbsp of honey. Stir well and return to oven.
- Remove from oven after the final 15 minutes baking time and cool about 5 minutes on the baking pan.
- Then spread the granola onto a piece of parchment paper on the counter and cool completely.
- Store in an air-tight container.