19 May 2011
My first real exposure to the concept of gluten-free was over five years ago when several gluten-free / dairy-free mix companies (think muffins, cakes, and cookies) contacted me to review their products. Always up for something new, I agreed, but kept my expectations low. Surprisingly (at least to me), I loved the baked goods that emerged from these mixes. They weren’t identical in taste and texture to their gluten counterparts, but rather had their own delightful characteristics.
Fortunately, I’ve learned to look at food and recipes like people. We each have our own qualities that make us unique. My sister and I look similar, but expecting her to be exactly like me … well that’s just plain silly. She has her own set of positive attributes … they don’t make her better or worse than me, just different.
Since those earlier years of exposure to “alternative” foods, I have never expected a dairy-free milk to taste just like cow’s milk, or a gluten-free roll to taste just like a wheat roll. Rather, I delete my expectations, and enjoy tasting whatever it is that food has to offer. And quite frankly, this attitude has not only opened my palate to a whole new range of foods, it has also opened my world to a wonderful new community.
The gluten-free community contains many sub-categories of people: Celiacs, gluten intolerant, wheat allergic, loved ones of the aforementioned, health enthusiasts, and low carb consumers. Honestly, I’m not sure where I fall in this mix, but I love creating gluten-free recipes for my friends who are gluten-free and for my own taste adventures. I’m not strictly gluten-free, but if you peek inside of my cupboard, you will see a host of flours and starches … brown rice, tapioca, potato, garbanzo, coconut, almond, etc. For me, they are there by choice.
To note, I don’t directly bake for any of my gluten-free friends who are gluten-free due to a medical necessity, as my kitchen obviously has some wheat cross-contamination. So rather than give them cookies and muffins from my kitchen, I come up with gluten-free recipes and share them.
I’ve learned so much about gluten cross-contamination issues from my friends this past year, and how extremely sensitive some can be. Did you know that many with Celiac Disease have to avoid oats altogether? I know what you are thinking, “But, there are certified gluten-free oats!” For many, this certification simply isn’t good enough, and oats can still be problematic, labeled as gluten-free or not.
It got me thinking, what about granola? Sure, there are some grain-free (and consequently gluten-free) granolas out there, but those nut-rich concoctions can get a bit heavy. Quinoa flakes perhaps, but that isn’t a road I’m ready to travel. So I turned to those gluten-free friends, and one of them, Melissa of Gluten Free For Good, shared her oat-free granola recipe with me.
I had to alter Melissa’s recipe based on what I currently had in my kitchen, but it still turned out delicious! Recipes like this one are very flexible, so feel free to adjust the ingredients to your own preferences and check out the options I have listed at the end of the recipe for some ideas …
Gluten-Free, Oat-Free Crispy Maple Granola
I actually hesitated to call this a granola, since it is so light and crispy. In terms of texture, it is like a cross between cereal and granola, but because we found it nice and filling, I went for the granola label.
- 3 Cups Erewhon Gluten Free Organic Brown Rice Cereal (it is certified
gluten-free by GFCO)
- 2 Cups + 1/3 Cup Raw Cashews, Divided (can sub 3 Tablespoons
Cashew Butter or other Nut Butter for the 1/3 Cup Cashews, if desired)
- 1/3 Cup Maple Syrup
- 1 Teaspoon Vanilla Extract
- 1 Teaspoon Ground Cinnamon
- 1/8 Teaspoon Salt
- 1/2 Cup Unsweetened Shredded Coconut
- 2 Tablespoons Flaxseeds
Preheat your oven to 300ºF.
Place the crispy rice cereal in a large bowl. Roughly chop the 2 cups of cashews, and stir them in with the cereal.
If using whole nuts, grind the 1/3 cup of cashews in your spice grinder. It will turn into a powder – if it starts to clump and become nut butter, even better. Place the ground cashews or nut butter in a small pan. Add the maple syrup, vanilla, cinnamon, and salt, and place the whole shebang over medium-low heat. Whisk to combine. If a few little nut bits remain, no harm done. When it comes to a low boil, let it boil, while whisking, for about a minute or two, then remove it from the heat. Pour the maple mixture over the cereal and nuts in your bowl. Sprinkle on the coconut and flaxseeds, and then gently stir to combine and coat everything with the gooey mixture.
Spread the cereal mixture out on two cookie sheets (greased or lined with a silicone baking mat – I use the baking mat) or in two 9 x 13” glass baking pans. Keep in mind that metal (not lined with a silicone baking mat) will cook (and burn) the granola-cereal much faster than glass. You may want to reduce the oven temp to 275ºF if using metal. Bake the cereal for 30 to 40 minutes, stirring it every 10 minutes for even cooking, or until it is browned and crispy to your liking.
- For a sweeter cereal, swap honey or agave for the maple syrup, add a
few drops of liquid stevia to the maple mixture, or simply add a
tablespoon or two of coconut/palm sugar or brown sugar to the maple
mixture before cooking.
- Feel free to sub your favorite nut(s) and/or seed(s) for the cashews in
this recipe. We just love the creaminess of cashews.
- Not a fan of coconut? Go ahead and omit it … and maybe up the
flaxseeds to 1/4 cup if desired.
- Toss in some chocolate chips and make it a snack mix that your
family will devour.
Makes 6 average-sized servings, though my husband would finish it all in 3 or 4 bowls
AlisaCheck out my latest posts here