Gingerbread Granola

A special granola just for the holidays: scented with orange and molasses; sweetened with captivating gingerbread spices like cardamom, star anise, nutmeg and cloves – and just a tiny pinch of white pepper. This is no ordinary granola, it's Christmas granola!

A Christmas Take on Granola, Fresh & Seasonal. Lower Sugar, Bigger Flavor. Not just vegan, Vegan Done Real. Naturally Gluten Free. Great for Meal Prep & Homemade Food Gifts.
Gingerbread Granola ♥ KitchenParade.com, granola all dressed up for Christmas with orange and molasses plus special spices. Lower Sugar, Bigger Flavor. Vegan. Gluten Free. Great for Meal Prep & Homemade Food Gifts.

Taste Is a Funny Thing, Yes?

How is it that some kids embrace all the flavors and others just don't?

Two quick stories.

"NéNé," a friend's granddaughter asked. "Is that ginger?"

My friend René and I laughed out loud, amazed that a toddler (I know! just two and a half!) could not only discern but identify and moreover enjoy bits of candied ginger embedded in a fresh batch of granola.

And then there are the twin grandsons. The older one is an adventuresome eater, he'll taste anything, just a tiny bit to start, paying attention, deciding what he thinks. The younger one is more cautious, he likes three things what he likes, broccoli with butter, one-bite strawberries and Miss Alanna's No-Chill Cutout Sugar Cookies.

One night last spring, we introduced the boyzz to "The Hill," St. Louis' Italian neighborhood, home to baseball luminaries Yogi Berra and Joe Garagiola and a dozen family-friendly Italian-American restaurants. After dinner, we strolled around the corner to the gelato shop.

The boyzz' choices were so telling! One ordered blood orange gelato, the other was oh-so-dismayed to find his favorite "plain vanilla" sullied by tiny flecks of chocolate. (For the record, after a tiny-tiny lick, it turns out chocolate with vanilla is good! Baby steps for this boy!)

Anyway. My question is, how do kids become adventurous at the table? Any tricks, parents and grandparents?

Christmasy Flavors, Not Too Sweet, Only Two Tablespoons of Fat

Spices for Gingerbread Granola ♥ KitchenParade.com, granola all dressed up for Christmas with orange and molasses plus special spices. Lower Sugar, Bigger Flavor. Vegan. Gluten Free. Great for Meal Prep & Homemade Food Gifts.

My Gingerbread Granola is packed with Christmas-y flavors, molasses and orange – and wintry spices too, three full tablespoons worth of spices! I especially love the sprinkle of white pepper, a Scandinavian touch.

Pumpkin is a "fall" ingredient, of course, but I use it in granola to moisten and bind the oats, this encourages the granola to clump in the oven. In other granola recipes, clumps form thanks to high measures of sugar and fat, two ingredients I prefer to limit.

Who else tastes sweet granolas with trepidation, afraid you'll fall for all that sweetness? I do! Admittedly, Gingerbread Granola is slightly sweeter than my everyday Homemade Granola with Almonds & Apricots, it is Christmas, after all. Still, it's far less sweet than other granolas I've tried and certainly way-way-way less sweet than commercial granola brands.

How to Serve Gingerbread Granola, Some Ideas

Gingerbread Granola ♥ KitchenParade.com, granola all dressed up for Christmas with orange and molasses plus special spices. Lower Sugar, Bigger Flavor. Vegan. Gluten Free. Great for Meal Prep & Homemade Food Gifts.

  • For breakfast, pour Gingerbread Granola into a pretty bowl and top it with cooked cranberries like Homemade Whole Cranberry Sauce for the Slow Cooker. Drizzle with a little milk, half 'n' half or even (oh my) cream. Spoon and swoon ...
  • For breakfast, top hot cooked oatmeal like Almost-Chewy Creamy Oatmeal with some cranberry sauce, then a sprinkle of Gingerbread Granola.
  • For breakfast, a midday snack or healthy dessert, layer Greek yogurt, chopped red pear and Gingerbread Granola in a tall clear glass or mug. So good!
  • I dunno, straight from the jar, a small handful at a time? It's been known to happen ...

You'll Like My Gingerbread Granola If ...

  • ... you love homemade granola year-round so a special seasonal granola for the holidays is a no-brainer
  • ... you love all-things-spiced, especially cardamom and star anise
  • ... you like granola that's barely sweet
  • ... you're curious about candied ginger in granola, it's a touch unusual, yes!

Gingerbread Granola ♥ KitchenParade.com, granola all dressed up for Christmas with orange and molasses plus special spices. Lower Sugar, Bigger Flavor. Vegan. Gluten Free. Great for Meal Prep & Homemade Food Gifts.



GINGERBREAD GRANOLA

Hands-on time: 50 minutes over about 90 minutes
Time to table: 6 hours
Makes 10-1/2 cups
    GINGERBREAD SPICE MIX
  • 1 tablespoon ginger
  • 2 teaspoons cinnamon
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons cardamom (don't skip)
  • 1 teaspoon star anise (don't skip)
  • 1 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1/2 teaspoon cloves
  • 1/8 teaspoon white pepper
    GRANOLA
  • 2/3 cup (155g) pumpkin purée (not pumpkin pie mix)
  • 1/2 cup (155g) maple syrup or sorghum
  • 1/3 cup (66g) dark brown sugar
  • 1/3 cup (111g) molasses, either regular or blackstrap
  • 2 tablespoons neutral oil (coconut oil, vegetable oil, make sure it's fresh)
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla
  • 1/2 teaspoon almond extract
  • Zest of 1 orange or 2 lemons
  • 1 teaspoon table salt
  • Gingerbread Spice Mix
  • 5 cups (400g) old-fashioned rolled oats
  • 2/3 cup (100g) toasted almonds or pecans or pistachios
  • 2/3 cup (100g) toasted walnuts, either English or black walnuts
    AFTER BAKING
  • 1/3 cup (60g) dried cranberries, chopped in mini food processor a bit
  • 1/3 cup (45g) currants
  • 1/3 cup (45g) candied ginger, minced by hand with a knife

PREP Heat oven to 325F/160C. Line two rimmed baking sheets with parchment.

MIX GINGERBREAD SPICE MIX Mix all ingredients in a small bowl.

MIX GRANOLA In a very large bowl with lots of room for thorough stirring, whisk together all the wet ingredients, salt and Gingerbread Spice Mix. With a large spatula, stir in the oats and nuts; take your time and stir very thoroughly, ensuring that all the oats and nuts are wet. Evenly divide the mixture between the two baking sheets. With the spatula, spread the mixture across the parchment on each baking sheet in an even layer. Leave the fruit and ginger out for now.

BAKE the granola one tray at a time, for about 30-35 minutes (30 is perfect in my oven), start checking for doneness at 25 minutes; if you'd like to stir halfway through, go ahead but it's not necessary. After 25 or 30 or even 35 minutes, the granola will still seem way too moist in the center but it will continue to dry out out of the oven; if you bake it much longer than 30 minutes, the granola will become very dry and hard, it will still be tasty (and edible), just very crunchy. If there are large clumps, break them apart but don't really stir it.

ADD FRUIT & GINGER While the granola is still warm, sprinkle the dried fruit and ginger over the top, this lets them soften a bit from the granola's heat.

LET IT DRY Let the granola dry uncovered for several hours, if you cover it too soon, the moisture will get trapped and the granola will stay moist and won't keep well. Once it dries, stir in the dried fruit and ginger.

MAKE-AHEAD TIPS Dry Gingerbread Granola keeps well at room temperature for several weeks. If it's slightly damp or sticky, however, do refrigerate it and consume within a couple of weeks. Watch for off-smells or signs of mold too. I haven't had this happen in many batches but can imagine it, if the granola doesn't get baked quite long enough. And since timing is tricky, it pays to be cautious.

ALANNA's TIPS For cookies, say, you can usually bake two trays at the same time by using two racks in a single oven, so long as you swap the trays midway and allow some extra time. That doesn't work for Gingerbread Granola, it seems to need lots of direct heat that gets blocked if there's more than one tray in the oven. Salt is really important in granola, no skipping or skimping. Dried sour cherries are a great substitute for dried cranberries but don't chop easily in the food processor, you'll have to chop by hand. Gingerbread Granola smells so good in the oven! Be sure your oil is fresh, I've started buying small bottles, just to make sure we go through it quickly. And I always give the bottle a quick sniff test before using it. If there's any off odor, into the garbage it goes. It's probably safe to eat but that off odor can ruin whatever you're making. The same thing is true with dried cranberries, if the ones you use are kept soft with a little oil. Trader Joe's has a product like this, they seem to go rancid all too quickly.
NUTRITION INFORMATION Per Quarter/Half Cup: 108/216 Calories; 4/8g Tot Fat; 1/2g Sat Fat; 0mg Cholesterol; 66/133mg Sodium; 17/33g Carb; 2/4g Fiber; 8/16g Sugar; 2/5g Protein. WEIGHT WATCHERS Old Points 2/4 & PointsPlus 3/6 & SmartPoints 4/9 & Freestyle 4/8 & myWW green 4/8 & blue 4/8 & purple 3/6 CALORIE COUNTERS 100-calorie serving = scant 1/4 cup (4g protein). This recipe has been "Alanna-sized".
Adapted from my Pumpkin Granola on A Veggie Venture.

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Kitchen Parade is written by second-generation food columnist Alanna Kellogg and features fresh, seasonal dishes for every-day healthful eating and occasional indulgences. Quick Suppers are Kitchen Parade favorites and feature recipes easy on the budget, the clock, the waistline and the dishwasher. Do you have a favorite recipe that other Kitchen Parade readers might like? Just send me a quick e-mail via recipes@kitchen-parade.com. How to print a Kitchen Parade recipe. Never miss a recipe! If you like this recipe, sign up for a free e-mail subscription. If you like Kitchen Parade, you're sure to like my food blog about vegetable recipes, too, A Veggie Venture. If you make this recipe, I'd love to know your results! Just leave a comment below.

© Copyright Kitchen Parade 2019

Alanna Kellogg
Alanna Kellogg

A Veggie Venture is home of "veggie evangelist" Alanna Kellogg and the famous asparagus-to-zucchini Alphabet of Vegetables.

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