More often than not, I believe that homemade is best. Fresh out of the oven or hot off the stove, typically, tastes better than store bought. Of course, there are a few exceptions, sushi nights at home, for example, never tastes as good as our favorite restaurant. And while I do love making my own ice cream, I’m pretty sure it will never come close to Jeni’s dairy free scoops of heaven. But granola will never come close to seeing that list. There are endless reasons to make your own granola: it’s incredibly easy to make, super customizable, tastes way better than store bought, usually better for you, reduces plastic consumption, and is so much cheaper. Plus, a huge side benefit, it makes your house smell amazing. Which, I think, is reason enough to stop buying the bagged stuff.
It’s been way too long since I’ve made granola and I suddenly had the urge to create a new recipe for a chocolate flavored version. As with most things related to baking, I have very strong opinions about granola specifications. First, and most importantly, it must be chunky and have large clusters. In my opinion, “granola” that is merely small pieces of several ingredients is just a muesli or a baked trail mix. And while those can still be delicious, I wouldn’t categorize them as granola. Granola must have chunks. And secondly, there should be a good variation of textures and flavors. On this point, I’m less specific, but granola is the perfect palate for fun and interesting flavor combinations. (Like this Blueberry Ginger Granola, an oldie but a goodie.)And this (healthy) Chunky Chocolate Granola hits on both those parameters. It’s got huge chunky clusters, it’s just perfectly sweet, and has a deliciously satisfying crunch that is counterbalanced with the chewy dried fruit. I used dried mulberries in this recipe, which I love deeply on their own and, if I’m being honest, I really created this recipe around them. They are wonderfully chewy, subtly sweet, and are similar in flavor to a fig. I have always wanted to bake with them and am happy to say that they are a great addition to granola. And, like most other berries, they are delicious paired with chocolate. If you can’t find or don’t like mulberries, I give a few good substitutions in the recipe below. Basically any dried fruit, that’s not very dry (like mango or pineapple), can be used here like raisins, cranberries, or currants.
This homemade granola is not only delicious, it’s good for you! I’ve packed this granola with so many nutritional powerhouses. Mulberries are an excellent source of antioxidants, walnuts and flax are rich in Omega-3 which is beneficial to your gut and brain, coconut has good healthy fats, oats for fiber and to keep you full, and cacao is rich in iron and polyphenols. This granola is completely sweetened with maple syrup which is a sweetener with benefits! It has nutrients like zinc and calcium. Just remember these things when you’re debating whether you should have another handful or not. And while this granola is delicious on it’s own, it’s the perfect added crunch to a smoothie, in a bowl with your favorite milk, or atop a yogurt bowl. Hopefully I’ve convinced you to go forth and make some granola! I have a feeling after you make this one, you’ll be hooked.
If you make this recipe, please feel free to leave a review or rating down below. And I’d LOVE to see your creation! Please tag me on Instagram @freshlydafna and use #freshlydafna.
Healthy Chunky Chocolate Granola
A super easy, but incredibly delicious granola that's so much better than store bought and packed with superfoods and nutrient dense ingredients. It's delicious on it's on or as an added crunch to a smoothie, in a bowl with your favorite milk, or atop a yogurt bowl. Anyway you enjoy it, it's a wonderful healthy snack.
gluten-free, naturally sweetened, vegan
Heat oven to 325 degrees. Prepare a baking sheet by lining with parchment paper.
In a large bowl stir together oats, walnuts, 1/2 cup mulberries (or other dried fruit), shredded coconut, cacao powder, sesame seeds, flax, and sea salt until all is well combined, set aside.
Melt the coconut oil with the maple syrup, either in a microwave (about 30 seconds) or in a small pot (over low heat). Once melted, stir together well. Remove from heat. Add in the vanilla and stir again.
Pour the warm maple mixture over the dry ingredients and stir together until everything is well coated.
Spread granola over baking sheet and arrange into one thin, even layer.
Bake for 10 minutes. Then rotate the pan 180 degrees in the oven to ensure even cooking. Bake for another 12-15 more minutes. Granola is done when it has turned a darker shade of brown and smells amazing.
Remove from oven and let cool completely. Once cool, break up into chunks and add additional dried fruit if you like. Keep granola in an airtight container either at room temperature in cool place for a few days or freezer for longer storage.
I love mulberries in combination with the chocolatey cacao powder, nuts, and seeds in this recipe. They add the perfect chewy texture to the crunchy granola. If you can't find dried mulberries or just prefer not to use them, feel free to omit completely or substitute for another dried fruit! Other good options are dried cranberries, raisins, currants, blueberries, or strawberries.
The key to a chunky granola is to not stir it while baking and to leave it as is while it cools, this ensures chunky granola clusters form while it cools.
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