Chocolate incorporated into breakfast is a rare treat... like chocolate on pancakes for birthday breakfasts, or some grated chocolate on oatmeal if I'm feeling particularly rebellious.
But cocoa does NOT count.
Real, 100%, unsweetened raw cocoa provides too many health benefits to be treated as 'treat' food.
A note on coconut oils:
What the heck is the difference between refined and unrefined coconut oil?
Which do you choose and why?
Here is a quick summary...
Unrefined coconut oil
Taste/aroma: like coconut
Smoke point: 177 C (350 F)
Contaminants removed: no
Use when: you want the most coconut flavour (ex: coconut macaroons)
the oh-so-glorious taste and aroma it can give your food
more polyphenols (beneficial antioxidants) than the refined oil
Refined coconut oil
Taste/aroma: tasteless and scentless
Smoke point: 204 - 232 C (400-450 F)
Contaminants removed: yes
Use when: requiring tasteless oil in a recipe (ex: making popcorn)
more versatile in cooking due to the higher smoke point (i.e. more suitable to cooking at high temperatures)
more versatile due to it's lack of coconut taste/aroma
Offer the same amount of beneficial fatty acids.
So Which is Better...?
We are told to choose unrefined products as often as possible. I agree with this most of the time, but there has been little added benefit shown in choosing unrefined coconut oil over refined coconut oil.
The main nutrient benefit of coconut oils is the beneficial fatty acids. As mentioned above, they offer the same amount, so they offer the same nutritional profile. This is not altered by the refining process, which acts only to remove impurities in the oil.
So to answer the question: it depends on what you're using it for.
I often have both types on hand and use each for their own purpose (i.e. whether or not I want a coconut taste/aroma in my food). With that being said, given the versatility of the refined coconut oil, I do tend to use this oil more often. For this recipe, you can choose which you'd prefer.
You home/apartment will smell dangerously fragrant when making this.
It will make you hungry and you will salivate.
As a consequence of this, you will snack on the granola immediately after it's finished cooling.
You've been warned.
While we are talking about snacking, let's explore the many ways you can enjoy this granola:
Used as cereal with some plant-based milk (soy/almond milk for example) and fresh or frozen fruit
Yogurt parfait as I did in this recipe with some soy yogurt + fresh and frozen fruit, and pumpkin seeds
Sprinkled on smoothies to give it added crunch and make it more filling
On a spoon. Enough said.
Roasted Cashew & Coconut Cocoa Granola
▸ ▹ Vegan, gluten-free
Yield: 16 servings
Prep Time: 5 min
Cook Time: 40 min
Total Time: 45 min
4 cups (400 g) old-fashioned rolled oats (if gluten-free, purchase GF oats)
1 cup (150 g) raw cashews, coarsely chopped*
1/3 cup (50 g) raw sunflower seeds
1/4 cup (25 g) raw, unsweetened coconut flakes
3 Tbsp (20 g) unsweetened cocoa powder
1/4 cup (35 g) coconut sugar (or sub brown sugar, loosely packed)
1/4 cup (60 mL) unrefined coconut oil**
1/4 cup (60 mL) agave syrup (or sub maple syrup)
1/8 tsp salt
1/4 cup (25 g) raw, unsweetened coconut flakes (optional)
Preheat oven to 350 F (180C).
Add all dry ingredients (except reserved 1/4 cup coconut flakes) to a large bowl, mixing to combine.
In a separate small bowl, mix together the coconut oil, agave syrup and salt until well combined. Add to the dry ingredients and stir to incorporate.
Evenly distribute over two cookie sheets lined with baking paper and place in the oven.
Remove from oven and stir every 5 minutes to avoid burning and to ensure even browning. Once lightly golden brown, remove from the oven and allow to cool. Note: the granola will harden as it cools.
Once cooled, add the reserved 1/4 cup coconut flakes (this serves to add some white colour to the cocoa colour of the granola). You can also choose to add in dried fruit at this stage. Place in an airtight container and enjoy with plant-based yogurt or milk, on smoothies, or on its own as a snack.
*If the cashews are already roasted, add them after the granola has cooked.
**If you don’t want too much coconut taste/aroma, choose refined coconut oil instead.
Variations: add your own desired raw nuts, seeds, or dried fruits.
Storage: store in an airtight container for up to one month.
Did You Try This Recipe?
Let me know how it went! Comment below and share a picture on Instagram with the hashtag #pickuplimes