Vegan, Gluten Free and Refined Sugar Free
Peanut butter brings back so many great memories for me. One time, I was having dinner with some friend’s and my sister arrived really late from a party. At first we didn’t notice anything unusual, but it soon became apparent that she was a little, um…drunk. She just sat there trying to be subtle for about half an hour, not really daring to join in the conversation, and then…
She stood up, gathered everyones attention and said, ‘do you guys want to hear a song from family guy’? Then she violently started dancing and yelling “PEANUT BUTTER JELLY TIME. PEANUT BUTTER JELLY TIME. PEANUT BUTTER JELLY TIME.” For a really long time.
Oh my gosh. I think it might just be my funniest memory of her. Especially because she was meeting everyone there literally for the first time, that night.
Good old peanut butter. It just makes life so much more rich and varied. I think it may be the most versatile spread, up there with jam. This peanut butter and coconut granola actually had it’s beginnings in what would probably be considered a kitchen failure.
As it’s Father’s Day today (Happy Father’s Day Dad and Step-Dad!!) I wanted to make some chewy peanut butter and coconut granola bars, because my step-dad goes absolutely nuts for them. I didn’t want to use a whole heap of sugar and I was trying to squeeze in more protein, so the ratio’s were different to what I was used to. I also forgot to take them out of the oven.
What resulted was granola bars that shattered into clumps as soon as you tried to pick one up. It was so sad! But then I took a bite of some of the crumbs and holla! It was the best granola cluster I’d ever tried. The peanut butter flavour is amazing! And the clusters are huge instead of tiny and impossible to preserve whilst you pour it in the bowl.
I am still pushing forward with my granola bar attempts but I had to share this granola cluster recipe as well, because it’s so easy and fuss-free. You can use a combination of fruits, seeds and nuts but the best granola always has a good balance of crunchy, sweet, sour, crumbly and salty. Granola is best if the seeds and nuts are toasted for 8-10 minutes before being cooked, so just toast the first 5 ingredients at 180C (350F) until golden brown.
I added some things I hadn’t tried before, like pine nuts and cranberries, and both worked really well. The desiccated coconut adds a sweet toasty flavour to the granola that is especially good with soy milk. You can eat a bowl of this granola like you would cereal, but it’s also great sprinkled over yogurt and fruit, folded into a compote or even just as a snack for nibbling on.
If you’re making it gluten free, be sure to check the oats and other seeds on the packet, because some time’s they’re packaged by the same machines that deal with products containing gluten and can become contaminated.
Coconut and Peanut Butter Granola Clusters:
50g (1/2 cup) each chopped walnuts and sunflower seeds
25g (1 heaped tbsp) each pine nuts, flaked or chopped almonds and desiccated coconut
75g (2/3 cup) each dried cranberries and dried apricots and sultanas
45g (1/3 cup + 1/2 tbsp) ground almonds
240g (2 + 2/3 cup) oats
125g (1 cup) coconut butter
100g (5 tbsp) raw honey
75g (1/2 cup) peanut butter
Preheat the oven to 160C (320F) and line an 18cm x 40cm or similar baking dish. Soak the cranberries, apricots and sultanas in some water for 10-20 minutes, then drain well. Mix the chopped nuts, seeds, oats, coconuts and fruit together in a large bowl.
In a small saucepan, heat the honey, coconut butter and peanut butter until melted and combined. Pour over the dry ingredients and mix well. Press everything into the prepared pan and bake for 20-25 minutes, until golden on top and crumbly. Leave to cool completely, and then crumble up and store in airtight jars or containers. Enjoy!