When I was growing up in the 80’s granola was widely considered to be a health food. So much so, that “granola” and words associated with it like “crunchy” have became synonymous with those living a healthy lifestyle. As a kid, mom never bought us those rainbow colored breakfast cereals that all kids are drawn to, but granola was given a pass. In retrospect, it’s a bit ironic, given than most commercial granola contains as much sugar and fat as many of the “bad” cereals.
Granola does however contain a decent amount of fiber and while it may not be as healthy as it’s reputation implies, it tastes delicious, whether you enjoy it with your favorite nut milk, or as a topping for yogurt or your favorite desserts.
More crispy than crunchy, my plant-based Cherry Vanilla Granola is rich with the nutty flavor of roasted almonds and coconut, while the nutritional yeast lends a marvelously buttery flavor. The sweet floral fragrance of vanilla pairs beautifully with the occasional bite of dried cherries, which not only add textural contrast, they lend a bright acidity that balances the other tastes.
If you do want to make this a bit healthier, you can cut back on the coconut oil and sugar, but be aware that this will come at the cost of taste and texture. The oil helps with the crispness and even browning of the granola, while the sugar helps the granola stick together into clusters.
- Preheat the oven to 250 degrees F (120 C) and then line a baking sheet with a silicone mat, or parchment paper.
- Combine the rolled oats, almonds, coconut and muscovado sugar.
- In a separate bowl, whisk together the nutritional yeast, maple syrup, and coconut oil. Slice the vanilla bean in half lengthwise and scrape out the beans, adding them to the maple syrup mixture and whisking to evenly distribute.
- Fold the maple syrup mixture into the oat mixture and stir well to make sure everything is evenly coated.
- Dump the granola onto your prepared baking sheet and spread into an even layer. Bake, stirring every 20 minutes to ensure even browning. The granola is done when it's a golden brown color (about 1 hour 10 minutes).
- Let the granola cool completely and then mix in the dried cherries. Store in an airtight container in a cool dry place.