I enjoy baking for my friends. It gives me a chance to bake without overwhelming my family with mountains of baked goods. My girls aren't exactly adventurous eaters, so it also allows me to try new things that would never make it past my children's sensibilities. I love making cupcakes and cookies, but I like a little variety too. My friends know this so occasionally they present me with a challenge. My favorite so far has been a request for a duck a l'orange birthday cake as a joke. (I made an orange chiffon cake with an orange glaze and sugar rubber duckies...but I digress...that's a topic for another post. Just for fun, here is the picture...)
Now on to today's post. One of my friends asked me for a healthier granola. Maple syrup was ok, if used sparingly, but no other sugars. Butter was cool, but not gluten. She didn't want me to use oats, not even the gluten free kind. Lastly, it needed to be economical to make (my requirement). All seed and nut granolas are fine, tasty even, but they can get a bit pricey. The same is true for coconut oil, although I'm sure it would be a fine substitution if someone also wanted to be diary free.
I admit, at first I was stumped.Granola without oats?Made with only a slight amount of maple syrup? Would it work? My internet searches came up with a variety of mostly nut/seed varieties, it just wasn't what I wanted. I needed something to replace the granola, something twiggy (for lack of a better term), so I looked into some grains that did not contain gluten. After some searching, I settled on puffed millet. I was able to find it in my local supermarket and it is inexpensive. It lends crunch to the granola as well as providing some body to the mix. I added some almonds, pumpkin seeds, dried fruit and flaked coconut to round it out. The slight amount of maple syrup absolutely worked. It was crunchy, slightly sweet and satisfying.
Is millet healthy? That was my next question and it seems to wildly depend on whom you ask. Millet is technically a seed, not a grain (it's actually the #1 ingredient in birdseed here in the US) - although it has a similar texture to grain. It is high in protein, fiber, vitamins and minerals. My friend is mostly on a Paleo diet and it doesn't seem to qualify (it's carbohydrate levels are almost as high as wheat and rice). Still, in moderation my friend decided to give millet a try and she hasn't gone back since. The puffed kind reminds me of popcorn in the best way possible.
This granola is very easy to make. You mostly just mix everything together and bake. The only tricky part is that I roast the coconut flakes separately so that they don't burn. I like to toast the granola pretty dark and well, coconut isn't a huge fan of that. But I do return everything to the bowl I mixed them in at the end so the coconut does get a slight coating of the maple syrup/butter goodness.
I also decided it was easier to weigh everything rather than measure it by volume. It saves on the dishes. Although it does look very pretty all dished out in its separate bowls, I admit that usually I dump it all into one. My kitchen scale is one of my best friends, really. (In case you haven't discovered a scale love affair or just would rather use measuring cups I also included approximate measurements.)
My friend tells me it is particularly tasty over yogurt. Did I mention it is gluten-free? Oh I did… well, especially if you need to be gluten-free (or even if you don't) this is an excellent granola to audition.
Gluten-free puffed millet granola
Gluten free granola with puffed millet, almond coconut base. Crunchy, delicious, and delightful way to start your morning. Makes approx. 1 12 oz batch.
- 1 1/4 oz (2 cups) puffed millet
- 2 1/4 oz (3/4 cup) sliced almonds
- 1 oz (1/4 cup) pepitas (shelled pumpkin seeds, you could also use sunflower seeds)
- 1/4 tsp cinnamon
- 1/4 tsp kosher salt
- 1/4 cup (60 ml) pure maple syrup
- 1/4 cup (4 Tbsp) unsalted butter (melted)
- 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
- 1 3/4 oz (1 cup) unsweetened flaked coconut
- 1 3/4 oz (1/4 cup) diced dried apricots
- 1/2 oz (2 Tbsp) dried cranberries
1. Preheat the oven to 300 degrees.
2. In a large bowl, mix together millet, almonds, pepitas, salt and cinnamon.
3. In a smaller bowl, combine the butter, maple syrup and vanilla. Stir until well mixed.
4. Add the butter mixture to the dry mixture, stir together until the dry mixture is evenly coated. Spread on a lined cookie sheet into one even layer.
5. Bake for 30 minutes, stirring after 15 minutes and every 5 thereafter until the granola is golden brown and nicely toasted.
6. Either while the granola is baking (if you have a toaster oven) or after the granola is finished, toast the flaked coconut until lightly browned - about 5 min at 300 degrees. I find if I do this separately they don't burn. Keep an eye on it though, those flakes go from beautifully toasted to burnt in a heartbeat.
7. Once the granola and coconut are finished baking, return to the large bowl (you may need to let it sit for a minute or two if the pan is too hot to handle). Add in the dried apricots and cranberries. Mix to combine.
Allow to cool completely before storing in an airtight container. Granola will keep up to three weeks.