Yes, you do need another granola recipe!
Specifically, one that is low in sugar, high in protein, extremely versatile, gluten-free and vegan. Lucky you, I have the recipe and I am eager to share.
The impetus for this recipe is two-fold: first, I like grains in the morning. I teach a 6 am fitness class Monday through Friday, and run on weekend mornings; if I don’t have some complex carbohydrates at the end of it all, I am a malcontent for the rest of the day. Just ask Nick and Kevin. But I also need my protein to rebuild muscle and keep me sated for several hours. I do a range of permutations to satisfy both–e.g., whole grain toast with nut or seed butter, smoothies with some rolled oats or quinoa thrown in to the mix, and scrambled eggs rolled up in a whole wheat tortilla.
But sometimes I crave a modest bowl of granola. I add Greek yogurt or milk, but I decided to challenge myself and make the granola itself high in protein.
I’ve done it, and now you can, too.
This granola has the familiar players–oats, a bit of oil, vanilla, and the liquid sweetener of your choice– with the protein-boosting assistance of vanilla or chocolate naturally-sweetened (stevia) protein powder. I’ve kept the rest of the recipe wide open so that variations are boundless. Keep it plain or dress it up with your favorite add-ins, such as nuts, seeds, dried fruits, cacao nibs or coconut flakes.
The general preparation is a cinch. Make a protein powder “syrup” to coat the oats (and any add-ins) by combining the protein powder of your choice with the sweetener and oil of your choice (I opted for Growing Naturals Chocolate Organic Brown Rice Protein Powder, maple syrup, and coconut oil).
Taking the place of some of the usual oil and sweetener is apple juice. Not only does it contribute additional, gentle sweetness, adding it (or any other liquid; you can use water or milk, too) helps the oats to form big, crunchy clusters as the granola cooks and dries.
It only takes about 3 to 4 minutes for the ingredients to blend and thicken, then simple pour the mixture over the oats, spread on a parchment-lined baking sheet, and bake! Once the granola has cooled, stir in any dried fruit you wish to add, then store in an airtight container. That’s it!
In addition to add-ins, have fun with different spices and extracts for your own unique blends. Here are a few suggestions:
Chocolate Granola with Coconut & Cacao Nibs (Pictured): Use naturally sweetened chocolate protein powder. Add 1-1/2 tablespoons of unsweetened cocoa powder to the coating mixture. Add 1/2 cup unsweetened coconut flakes and 1/4 cup cacao nibs to the oat mixture.
Cardamom-Almond Granola: Use naturally sweetened vanilla protein powder. In place of the vanilla extract, add 1 teaspoon ground cardamom and 1 teaspoon pure almond extract . Add 2/3 cup sliced almonds to the oat mixture.
Cranberry-Orange Granola: Use naturally sweetened vanilla protein powder. In place of the vanilla extract, add 1 tablespoon finely grated orange zest and 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon. Add 1/2 cup dried cranberries to the cooled granola.
Cinnamon-Pecan Granola: Use naturally sweetened vanilla protein powder. Add 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon along with the vanilla extract. Add 2/3 cup chopped pecans to the oat mixture.
- 3 cups old-fashioned rolled oats (GF if needed)
- Optional :1/2 cup to ¾ cup of MIX-INS (see notes for suggestions)
- Optional ½ to 1 teaspoon ground spice (see notes for suggestions)
- ⅔ cup naturally sweetened vegan protein powder (I used Growing Naturals Brown Rice Protein) or naturally sweetened whey protein
- ½ cup unsweetened apple juice
- ⅓ cup syrup of choice (e.g., maple syrup, agave nectar)
- 3 tablespoons virgin coconut oil or vegetable oil
- ¼ teaspoon fine sea salt
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- Preheat oven to 325F. Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper.
- Place oats (and any optional mix-ins, EXCEPT FRUIT, and spices) in a large bowl.
- Place the protein powder, apple juice, syrup, coconut oil and salt in a medium saucepan. Turn heat to medium and whisk until mixture is smooth, thick and creamy (and just beginning to bubble). Whisk in vanilla.
- Pour mixture over oats, stirring to combine and coat. Spread evenly on prepared baking sheet.
- Bake in preheated oven for 42 to 45 minutes, stirring once or twice, or until granola is dry. Remove from oven and let cool completely on sheet. Stir in any dried fruit, if using.
- Store cooled granola in an airtight container for up to 2 weeks, or freeze for up to 2 months.
Suggested Spices: Ground cinnamon, ginger, cardamom, pumpkin pie spice, nutmeg, and allspice.
Note: Protein and calorie content will vary slightly depending on type/brand of protein powder used.
Disclosure: I was sent free samples of Growing Naturals Protein Powders to try. I was not compensated in any way and the choice to use them and recommend them is entirely my own.