What have I become!?
I made GRANOLA. Not just granola, but granola with AGAVE NECTAR not sugar. WHAT? I know. I can’t believe it either. But it was delicious.
I had never used agave before this, but I had heard a lot of good things. I tasted it and because it was sweet but not sickeningly so, I thought it’d be a good syrup to use in granola. Healthier than sugar, but without the “honey” taste that honey provides. Sometimes you just don’t want to have that flavor profile. So I got my amber agave and went to work!
So Chrismas is over, and we’ve all indulged a lot since Thanksgiving. Not only that, but NYE is coming, and there’s certainly more indulgence & debauchery to come. Annnnnd with that said, I figured a little lighter fare was in order. Less sugar, more agave.
What exactly IS agave?
Agave nectar (also called agave syrup) is a sweetener commercially produced from several species of agave, including Agave tequilana (blue agave) andAgave salmiana. Agave nectar is sweeter than honey and tends to be less viscous. Most agave nectar comes from Mexico and South Africa.
Agave nectar consists primarily of fructose and glucose. One source gives 47% fructose and 16% glucose; another gives 56% fructose and 20% glucose. These differences probably reflect variation from one vendor of agave nectar to another.
The impact of agave nectar on blood sugar (as measured by its glycemic index and glycemic load) is comparable to fructose, which has a much lower glycemic index and glycemic load than table sugar (sucrose). However, consumption of large amounts of fructose can be deleterious and can trigger fructose malabsorption, metabolic syndrome, hypertriglyceridemia, decreased glucose tolerance, hyperinsulinemia, and accelerated uric acid formation.
It’s the perfect addition to a perfect granola: crunchy but definitely not tooth-breaking, a little sweet & a lot chocolate-y, nutty, and filling. Some of the chocolate chips melt & then re-solidify… it’s just perfect.
You can 100% substitute cane syrup, honey or a corn syrup for the agave in this. You can also add things like shredded coconut, raisins, dried cherries, puffed rice or different kinds of nuts. Anything goes.
DARK CHOCOLATE – CHOCOLATE CHIP HAZELNUT GRANOLA
- 1/2 cup chopped hazelnuts
- 3 cups quick oats (or rolled)
- 3 tablespoons dark cocoa powder (I like Hershey’s Special Dark)
- 1/4 cup safflower oil, sunflower oil, or even just vegetable oil if need be
- 1/4 teaspoon sea salt
- 1/2 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
- 1/2 cup amber Agave nectar (or the dark one if you prefer a deeper flavor)
- Preheat oven to 350° F. Spread hazelnuts on a cookie sheet & toast them for about 10 minutes. Remove from the oven & let cool. Lower oven to 325°F.
- Once the nuts have cooled (ha- I said NUTS), combine all dry ingredients in a large bowl. Mix thoroughly. Add the oil & then the Agave, and mix with a rubber or silicone spatula to get it all combined.
- Spread the mixture on an ungreased cookie sheet. Bake for 25 minutes, stirring every now & then. I mushed it around every 7 minutes or so.
- When done, remove from oven & press/pat down on the granola. Allow it to FULLY cool.
- When it’s cooled, pick it up and break it up. If it’s really stuck, use a metal spatula to scrape it off and break it up. Add the mixture to a clean jar. That’s it! You’ve got granola!
Now, you can eat it like cereal, with just milk in a bowl. You can add it to yogurt, or make a yogurt parfait using a layer of yogurt, then granola, then yogurt, etc. You can add it on top of oatmeal.
You can eat it right out of the jar, too. That’s what I’ve been doing.
This isn not an overly sweet granola. It’s got quite a bit of the dark chocolate characteristics, even with the chocolate chips. If you used a corn syrup instead of agave, it would probably be sweeter, but I still don’t think it’d be overly sweet.
Take it with you to work or school in a little mini-jar. Or just eat it all at once. I don’t judge.