Since we’ve finally hit summer weather in Portland, granola is in heavy rotation at my house. It makes a great snack on hot days, and in the morning, it’s cooling with lots of fresh fruit and unsweetened yogurt. I can’t get enough.

Chocolate Granola Clusters are my favorite these days, because they’re super crunchy, healthy and have a little caffeine kick (especially if you add cacao nibs).

Vegan, gluten-free, soy-free, and refined sugar-free Chocolate Granola Clusters!
Chocolate Granola Clusters with cacao nibs, hazelnuts, and unsweetened dried cherries.

This cereal is baked slowly in the oven at a low temperature to become very dry and crunchy, without burning. Since I limit my sugar intake to keep my arthritis from getting grouchy, this granola was developed to be less sweet! If you like sweet cereal, eat this granola with sweetened yogurt or very ripe fruit, and drizzle on a little maple syrup!

Because this granola starts out as a sticky dough, its very easy to control the size of the granola clusters to be! Break it up as much or as little as you like.

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Chocolate Granola Clusters (Vegan and Gluten-Free)
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Vegan, gluten, soy, and refined sugar-free.

Chocolate Granola Clusters are a favorite these days, because they're super crunchy, healthy and have a little caffeine kick (especially if you add cacao nibs).

Before you start, please read through the recipe, instructions, and notes at the bottom!

6 cups
6 cups
  1. Preheat oven to 250F,  and line a baking sheet with parchment. Give the parchment a spritz of spray oil, or oil lightly.
  2. In a large bowl, mix together the oats, buckwheat, coconut, cacao, salt and optional cacao nibs or nuts, if using.
  3. In the jar of a blender, put the banana, water, chia, flax, peanut butter, dates, coconut sugar, coconut oil and extract. Blend until smooth. It will be the consistency of a very thick smoothie.
  4. Pour the contents of the blender into the dry ingredients (use a spatula to scrape it all out!), and mix well to combine (I usually start with a large spoon and end up using my hands). It will form a thick, sticky dough.
  5. Press the mixture evenly onto the prepared baking sheet, about ½" thick.
  6. Bake for 15 minutes. Use a spoon or fork to carefully break the mixture up into small clusters. Return to the oven and bake 15 minutes more, breaking up the granola again, if necessary.
  7. Return to the oven once again, and bake for another hour, stirring every 15 minutes, to be sure the granola is baking evenly and to prevent burning.
  8. Cool thoroughly and stir in dried fruit, if using. Transfer to an airtight container and store at room temperature
Recipe Notes

If your dates are hard, be sure to soak them before blending.
If you only have frozen bananas on hand, they will definitely work in this recipe!
Don't leave out the salt, it balances out the cacao.


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xo Julie & Kittee

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