Lemon Cinnamon Grain-Free Granola

Going grain-free naturally leads you to exploring nuts and seeds.
My first grain free granola, the Orange Date Nut Clusters,  a couple of weeks back has become a staple in my house. I now explore different flavors. That can be done by using different nuts and seeds, or by flavoring the "sauce".

In this granola I used black sesame seeds, as I ran out of flax seeds when I was about to make a new batch. Black sesame seeds will make a great addition to any granola. While white sesame seeds have a more nutty flavor, the black ones are more on the bitter side, but in a pleasant, subtle way. In combination with the nutty, sweet nuts and seeds, like almonds, pistachios, sunflower seeds and also coconut, it adds another dimension to the overall taste. Black sesame seeds are often used in Chinese or Japanese cooking. You'll find them at Asian grocery stores.

For the "sauce" I used the sweetness of dates, flavored with cinnamon and lemon zest.  I love this granola on top of fresh fruit and some goats yogurt. It will kick-start your day with a mountain of vitamins and minerals, natural unsaturated fats, without refined sugar or gluten. Here is a little summary of the goodness of each ingredient:

Dates: rich in dietary fiber and antioxidants, excellent source of iron

Cinnamon: helps reducing the rise of blood sugar levels after a high carb meal. You will feel full longer with a sprinkle of cinnamon in you meal. Cinnamon is an excellent source of manganese and a very good source of fiber, iron and calcium.

Almonds (with skin): very good source of unsaturated fats, manganese, antioxidants and vitamin E.

Pistachios:  very good source of unsaturated fats, antioxidants and fiber.

Sesame seeds: very good source of unsaturated fats, magnesium and copper. Good source of iron, zinc and vitamin B.

Sunflower seeds: excellent source of vitamin B1 and E.

Coconut: rich in lauric acid, which is known for being antiviral, antibacterial and antifungal, and boosts the immune system.

(Print Recipe)

1/2 cup dates, pitted and chopped
1/2 cup water
1 lemon, zest of
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

2 cups almonds, roughly chopped
1 cup pistachios, roughly shopped
1/2 cup sunflower seeds
1/4 cup white sesame seeds
1/4 cup black sesame seeds

1/2 cup unsweetened desiccated coconut
Combine dates, water, lemon zest and cinnamon in a small pan. Bring to boil over medium heat, then simmer for 3-5 minutes. Let cool a little before blending it into a paste in a food processor. Set aside. Mix the paste into the nuts and seeds until well coated.
Preheat oven to 165C/325F. Line baking sheet with parchment paper.

Roughly chop the almonds and pistachios. In a large bowl, combine all nuts and seeds. Mix the paste into the nuts and seeds until well coated.

Spread out onto baking sheet in a single layer. Roast for 25-30 minutes or until dry. Turn clusters over half way through. If they seem to take longer than 30 minutes, check regularly afterwards, as they burn quickly past the half-hour mark. Let cool completely. Break up bigger clusters. Stir in coconut. Store in airtight container.

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