If I had to choose my favorite meal of the day, I think it would have to be breakfast. The house is quiet and the sun is just starting to come out for the day. Although I love eating a wide variety of foods for lunch and dinner, I relish my routine breakfast—a bowl of oatmeal swirled with almond butter and almond milk. Almonds have a slightly sweet aroma that pairs perfectly with whole grain oats. The combination is so delicious that I always look for more opportunities to combine oats and almonds, like in this Cherry Almond Granola.
Granola is a fairly expensive food to buy at the store when you think about what goes into it. I like my granola to be simple and focus on only a few items. I hate it when I find a granola recipe that calls for oats, bulgur, hemp seeds, sesame seeds, chia seeds, sunflower seeds, flaxseed, agave, and five kinds of dried fruit. What do I look like, the bulk bin aisle at Whole Foods? Most of the ingredients in this recipe can be found in your pantry, so there’s no reason to succumb to a $10 bag of granola.
This granola just takes oats and almonds, tossed with warm maple syrup and almond butter, all tossed with fragrant almond extract and some dried cherries. I knew that I wanted to add cherries to the granola because the pits of stone fruits are related to almonds, and they often are used to make almond extract. Most of the time I combine cherries and almonds into a sorbet for a sublime dessert, but I couldn’t find a way to justify that for breakfast. If you are anything like me and generally stay away from dried fruit because often times it is used instead of chocolate chips in cookies (blasphemy!), let these cherries change your mind. Dried tart cherries still retain a fair amount of moisture and have a chewy texture, not unlike a gusher candy, which is a welcome contrast from the crunch of the granola.
Try this granola on top of yogurt, with milk and fruit, or simply enjoy by the handful. It’s a healthy breakfast full of whole grains, healthy fats, fruit, and protein, and it’s so tasty it may just make you a morning person.
Cherry Almond Granola
Makes about 5 cups
3 cups rolled oats
1 cup slivered, blanched almonds
1/3 cup pure maple syrup (grade B is preferable)
1/3 cup roasted, salted almond butter (if your almond butter is unsalted, add ½ teaspoon of table salt to the recipe)
¼ cup canola oil
1 teaspoon almond extract
1 cup dried sour cherries
- Preheat the oven to 325F and line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper.
- In a large bowl, mix together the oats and the almonds.
- In a small saucepan over medium heat, combine the maple syrup, almond butter, and canola oil and bring to a simmer. Remove from the heat and stir in the almond extract. Pour the wet ingredients over the oat mixture and toss well to combine. Pour the granola onto the prepared baking sheet and bake for 15-20 minutes, stirring every 5 minutes, until the granola is golden brown. Remove from the oven and mix in the dried cherries, then let cool on the baking sheet for at least 1 hour.
Note: The granola keeps well at room temperature in an air-tight container for 1 week, or in the refrigerator for up to 3 weeks.