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  • Writer's pictureKelly

Matcha Almond Granola (Vegan, Gluten-Free, Sugar-Free, Fruit-Sweetened, Naturally Colored)

Updated: Apr 14, 2023

Want me to let you in on a little secret? You can enjoy the taste of a bear claw without having to go to a bakery or go through the trouble of making one from scratch. In fact, you can enjoy all that glorious sweet almond flavor for breakfast AND not have to feel guilty about it. An added bonus? Four words: crunchiness, vibrancy, green tea. The secret? This Matcha Almond Granola! It's the granola that everyone will be talking about at the breakfast table. Take one bite, and you'll see what I mean. Naturally colored from matcha green tea and wonderfully delicious, you can ditch the morning almond pastry for this healthier, more colorful treat and you'd NEVER know the difference. This granola is vegan, gluten-free, and fruit-sweetened and is clean-eating. *PLEASE NOTE: this granola does contain caffeine from the matcha green tea powder used in the recipe. However, the caffeine from matcha comes in the form of natural tea caffeine (AKA theine) and is a mere fraction of the amount of caffeine in coffee. For instance, one serving of this granola (1/2 cup) contains approximately 9 mg of caffeine. To compare, coffee has about 95 mg of caffeine per 1 cup (8 fl oz). Plus, this granola comes with a lot of good nutrients along with that tea caffeine, like healthy fats, fiber, complex carbs, and protein.*



This granola ranked #1 as my favorite granola, until my Pink Lemonade Granola was created. But this granola is still phenomenal, and I make it regularly. It's got a whole lot of almond flavor, but also has that wonderful green tea flavor as well with notes of cinnamon and vanilla. And it joins my group of rainbow recipes thanks to its light green hue (for more neon recipes, check out my Healthy Unicorn Pop-Tarts, my Sweet Spinach Spirulina Apple Muffins, and my Golden Milk Granola).


People who have tried this Matcha Almond Granola have likened it to dessert or a bear claw, which I couldn't agree with more. But make no mistake, this granola is very healthy and is meant for breakfast, even though it tastes like dessert.


The four most prevalent ingredients in this recipe (pictured below) are all nutrient-dense and satiating: gluten-free whole grain oats, raw unsalted nuts, dates, and virgin cold-pressed coconut oil.



This recipe is quick and simple, but doesn't sacrifice on flavor. And it has a nice duality of crunchiness and chewiness to it that really makes for a satisfying texture. My Matcha Almond Granola is the perfect way to start your day, thanks to its having caffeine, complex carbs, protein, healthy fats, and thanks to its being portable and stable at room temperature (the only reason I refrigerate it is to maintain crunchiness and make it last slightly longer).


So jump on The Dimpled Date granola bandwagon and discover that granola doesn't need refined sugar or artificial ingredients to look and taste good. This vegan, gluten-free, and completely fruit-sweetened granola is something you'll be making on repeat and shamelessly devouring by the handful.


And yes, the green color is natural courtesy of the matcha green tea powder. Keep reading to find out the nutrition and health benefits of each ingredient in this granola and to see which substitutions you can use.



Nutritional Profile of Matcha Almond Granola


Rolled oats- rolled oats (AKA old-fashioned oats) are a great source of fiber, protein, healthy carbohydrates, and iron. Fiber aids digestion and promotes heart health, while protein helps build and maintain muscle. Healthy carbohydrates provide high-quality, long-lasting energy and iron builds red blood cells. If you're strictly gluten-free, choose certified gluten-free oats, as oats (which are inherently gluten-free) can be cross-contaminated with gluten-containing crops. Tip: rolled oats (old-fashioned), steel-cut oats, quick oats, and instant oats are all different and produce very different results in baking, so make sure you know which ones your recipe calls for! This recipe calls for rolled (old-fashioned) oats.


Coconut oil- coconut oil is rich in healthy fats (including MCTs). Healthy fats are good for heart health, brain health, skin, and hair. Medium-chain triglycerides (or MCTs), specifically provide high-quality, quick energy for the body. Emerging research is suggesting that plant-based saturated fat (the kind found in coconut) may be better for you than animal-based saturated fat and may even benefit your health. Tip: choose cold-pressed, virgin coconut oil when purchasing. Also, coconut oil can be used as an all-natural hair mask to boost hydration and shine (search online to see how to properly use coconut oil as a hair mask).


Coconut butter- coconut butter (AKA "coconut manna") is different from coconut oil. Coconut butter is essentially puréed coconut meat whereas coconut oil is the oil extracted from pressing coconut meat. Coconut butter boasts considerable amounts of healthy fats, fiber, protein, iron, and potassium. Healthy fats can lower "bad" LDL cholesterol, fiber feeds the good bacteria in your gut, and protein plays a role in nearly every bodily process. Iron builds red blood cells, which are responsible for transporting oxygen through the body, and potassium can help regulate blood pressure. Pro tip: when using coconut butter, you may notice that this butter separates into two layers: one thin clear/translucent layer on the top and one large cream-colored/opaque layer below. The top thin clear layer is the coconut oil that naturally separates out of the coconut butter, whereas the cream opaque layer is the coconut butter. Simply submerge the sealed jar in a bowl of hot/boiling water, let sit for 5 to 15 minutes, then stir to re-incorporate the coconut oil into the coconut butter. Or, you can scrape the top layer of coconut oil off the top of the coconut butter and use the coconut oil in recipes that call for coconut oil. Then, the coconut butter can be used without having to worry about separation.


Matcha green tea- matcha is an incredibly nutritious green tea powder made very specifically. Matcha is dissolvable in water and can be used in hot/iced lattes, desserts, breakfast baked goods, and smoothies! Matcha is rich in fiber, L-theanine, and various antioxidants like EGCG. Matcha contains fiber because the whole tea leaf is ground into the matcha powder, and the powder dissolves in water, meaning all the nutrition of the tea leaf stays in your cup, as opposed to steeping a regular green tea bag (which infuses the water with antioxidants and flavor, yet the tea bag containing the nutritious tea leaves is removed after). Fiber benefits heart health and aids digestion. L-theanine is an amino acid believed to promote focus and relaxation and counteract the negative effects of caffeine whilst maximizing the benefits of caffeine (L-theanine can help maximize the energy and alertness that caffeine provides, without the energy crash and jitters that typically come with caffeine). Antioxidants generally fight free radical damage, helping prevent various diseases. The EGCGs (also known as catechins) found in matcha specifically have anti-inflammatory properties, promote heart health in numerous ways, and boost brain health and function. Some estimates say matcha has 137 times more antioxidants than regular green tea, with EGCG being one of the main antioxidants! Also, matcha contains a healthy amount of natural tea caffeine (called theine, not to be confused with theanine). The caffeine in matcha (sometimes as low as 25 mg of caffeine per serving) is much less than the caffeine in a cup of coffee (generally 100 mg per serving of coffee), and matcha comes with other healthy nutrients with that caffeine, unlike coffee which is comparatively non-nutritive. Opt for high-quality, ceremonial-grade, vegan, sugar-free pure matcha green tea powder.


Medjool dates- Medjool dates (or the "King of Dates" // and thus, date paste which is just puréed dates + water) are one of the largest and sweetest varieties of dates in the U.S., and are incredibly soft with rich caramel notes. They are my absolute favorite type of date, and my preferred variety to use on the blog. Dates are antioxidant powerhouses that are also rich in fiber, protein, potassium, and iron. Fiber slows the release of sugar into the bloodstream and aids digestion. Protein builds and maintains muscle mass. Potassium regulates blood pressure and balances electrolytes. Iron builds red blood cells that transport oxygen through the body. Antioxidants in general help protect against numerous diseases because of their ability to fight disease-causing free radicals in the body. Dates also benefit bone health, can help prevent anemia, can help regulate blood sugar levels in moderation (believe it or not!), help promote healthy bowel movements, may help alleviate some symptoms of PMS (like cravings), and show potential as a way to naturally induce (or at least shorten) labor, according to emerging research. Opt for organic dates with no added sugar to reap the maximum benefits of the dates (I use Natural Delights' Whole Fresh Medjool Dates that are grown with zero pesticides and have no added sugar).


Nuts/seeds- nuts/seeds, generally speaking, are good sources of healthy fats, protein, fiber, and vitamins & minerals. For example, walnuts are a great source of healthy fats (including omega-3 fatty acids), fiber, protein, and iron. Omega-3s benefit everything from heart to brain to eye to metabolism to joint to immune to skin to hair health. As far as seeds go, pumpkin seeds (pepitas) are a healthy example and are rich in healthy fats, fiber, protein, iron, antioxidants, magnesium, and other vitamins & minerals. Magnesium supports healthy bones and plays a central role in numerous chemical reactions in the body. Tip: Choose raw, unsalted, unsweetened nuts and seeds whenever possible, as you can reap more nutritional benefits with raw nuts/seeds and without the added salt and sugar.



Almonds- almonds are packed with healthy fats, fiber (particularly soluble fiber), protein, vitamin E, and antioxidants. Healthy fats keep the heart healthy, nourish brain cells and support brain activity, and moisturize & nourish skin and hair. Soluble fiber is good for reducing bad cholesterol because in the digestive tract, it combines with water to form a gel-like substance that blocks cholesterol absorption in the gut. Soluble fiber is different from the well-known insoluble fiber (the kind that stimulates bowel movements), but both are extremely important for health and both kinds of fiber are found in almonds. Protein helps build bodily tissue such as muscle and is used in many body processes. Vitamin E is an antioxidant that is beneficial for your skin and hair inside and out (for small cuts and abrasions, a vitamin E capsule can be broken open and the liquid inside can be applied to the injury). Generally speaking, antioxidants promote overall health and help prevent disease.


Unsweetened raisins- unsweetened raisins are dried grapes with no added sugar that are incredibly nutritious. They contain fiber, protein, potassium, iron, calcium, and antioxidants, without all the added sugar. See above ingredient nutritional profiles for the health benefits of fiber, protein, and iron. Potassium regulates blood pressure, promoting heart health. Calcium builds strong and healthy bones and can help prevent osteoporosis. Antioxidants fight free radical damage, thus helping to protect against disease. Opt for unsweetened raisins over sweetened ones, because even unsweetened raisins are a high-calorie, high-sugar dried fruit naturally.


Shredded/desiccated coconut- coconut meat (and thus, desiccated coconut, which is just shaved and dried coconut meat) is a great source of healthy fats, fiber, protein, iron, potassium, manganese, copper, selenium, and phosphorous. See above ingredient profiles for the health benefits of healthy fats, fiber, protein, iron, and potassium. Manganese is a mineral that is essential for bone health. Copper plays a role in cardiovascular health and helps develop and maintain bodily tissues, including bones, the brain, and the heart. Selenium is a mineral that is a component of proteins and enzymes that produce DNA. Phosphorous helps build bones, teeth, DNA, and RNA. Tip: choose unsweetened desiccated or shredded coconut, which is already naturally sweet in its own right.


Cinnamon- cinnamon is loaded with antioxidants and beneficial plant compounds and may have anti-inflammatory and antimicrobial properties. There are two varieties of cinnamon; Cassia cinnamon (the kind primarily sold in stores, and what we know as "cinnamon") and Ceylon, or "true", cinnamon. Out of the two varieties, Ceylon cinnamon has a lighter, sweeter flavor with more citrusy notes and is believed to be healthier than Cassia cinnamon. Cassia cinnamon is richer and spicier in flavor.



Substitutions


I wouldn't substitute any other kind of oats for the gluten-free rolled (old-fashioned) oats because quick oats, instant oats, and steel-cut oats all take different amounts of time to cook and have drastically different textures. If the oats don't need to be gluten-free, you can sub regular rolled oats. Possibly, you could omit the oats and instead use gluten-free/vegan/sugar-free crispy rice cereal. You want a good amount of texture and volume to replace the oats and something like a gluten-free, vegan, and sugar-free crispy rice cereal would do the trick I think without adding too many extra calories or fat. (***PLEASE NOTE: I HAVE NOT tried this recipe with crispy rice cereal in place of the oats and therefore CANNOT guarantee good results***). If you try this recipe with crispy rice cereal, let me know how it turned out in the comments! The coconut oil can be replaced with your neutral-flavored healthy vegetable oil of choice, such as avocado oil or sunflower oil. Possibly, you could try using olive oil with varied results, knowing that olive oil has a slightly more robust flavor. Technically speaking, another possibility is using melted vegan butter instead of the melted coconut oil, although I don't know if the melted vegan butter will pair well with the matcha almond flavor of this granola. However, it might work! To reduce the fat in this recipe, you could potentially substitute 2 Tbsp out of the 1/4 cup of coconut oil (per single batch) with 2 Tbsp unsweetened applesauce (in other words instead of using 1/4 cup coconut oil, use 2 Tbsp coconut oil PLUS 2 Tbsp applesauce). Or for oil-free and to reduce the fat even more, it might work to replace the 1/4 cup coconut oil entirely with 1/4 cup unsweetened applesauce.


You may use any kind of nut or seed butter. I highly recommend softened coconut butter, almond butter, OR cashew butter, but other unsweetened nut/seed butters would work, such as walnut butter, pecan butter, sunflower seed butter, mild tahini, macadamia nut butter, pistachio butter, pumpkin seed butter, or possibly hazelnut butter. Potentially, peanut butter might work (it might create a kind of PB + matcha effect, if you're into that). For 100% nut-free and seed-free, you should be able to get away with omitting the nut/seed butter altogether without needing to replace it with anything else.


The matcha green tea powder can't exactly be replaced as this is a recipe for Matcha Almond Granola. Nonetheless, potentially you could use espresso powder, starting with 1 tsp and adding more to taste in place of the matcha. Or, you could maybe sub chai tea powder starting with 1 tsp and adding more to taste. If you are allergic to caffeine, avoid caffeine, or don't like caffeinated beverages, you could try omitting the matcha altogether for an almond cinnamon granola. Or, check out my Golden Milk Granola recipe or Pink Lemonade Granola recipe for other caffeine-free, beverage-inspired granolas. The date paste may be replaced with 1/4 cup maple syrup, 1/4 cup agave, 1/4 cup coconut nectar, 1/4 cup date syrup, OR 1/4 cup honey (if not strictly vegan). OR you may use 1/4 cup coconut sugar OR scant 1/4 cup maple sugar. OR you could substitute 2 Tbsp brown sugar PLUS 2 Tbsp maple syrup/agave/date syrup/honey (if you can have refined sugar on your diet). For 100% sugar-free, you can try using 1/4 cup erythritol, 1/4 cup Granular Swerve, liquid/powdered monk fruit to taste, liquid/powdered stevia to taste, OR chicory root fiber syrup to taste (*NOTE: if you don't tolerate Swerve or erythritol well, do not use it. And if you are using the chicory root fiber syrup, be sure you've built up a tolerance to it and don't exceed that tolerance. Chicory root fiber syrup is composed almost entirely of sweet-tasting fibers, which are healthy, but as such it needs to be gradually introduced to and increased in the diet. Too much fiber too quick can cause GI distress). And of course, you can adjust the sweetness of this granola by adding less date paste/sweetener of choice.



Any type of raw nuts/seeds may be used. The raw nuts/seeds I like to use are any combo of walnuts, pecans, almonds, cashews, pistachios, macadamia nuts, pumpkin seeds (pepitas), and/or sunflower seeds. Hempseed, chia seeds, and/or whole flaxseeds may be used as well. In place of the nuts/seeds you can use extra gluten-free rolled (old-fashioned) oats OR gluten-free/vegan/sugar-free crispy rice cereal. Alternatively, you may omit the nuts/seeds, knowing that this will reduce the volume of the granola slightly. Either slivered or whole almonds may be used in this granola in addition to the chopped nuts/seeds of choice, so long as they are raw, unsalted, and unsweetened. The almonds can be substituted with additional raw chopped walnuts, pecans, cashews, or nuts/seeds of choice. Or, you can omit the additional almonds. The vanilla extract can be substituted with an equivalent amount of scraped vanilla bean, pure ground vanilla bean powder, OR sugar-free vanilla paste/syrup. Or, you could omit the vanilla. The almond extract is kinda essential since this is a recipe for Matcha Almond Granola. But if you must, you can replace the almond extract with 1 tsp sugar-free coconut extract (like OliveNation's), up to 1 additional teaspoon of vanilla extract, OR perhaps 1/2 tsp orange extract (for a green tea creamsicle effect), 1/2 tsp lemon extract, OR 1/2 tsp sugar-free raspberry extract (for a raspberry matcha flavor) plus more to taste.


The unsweetened dried fruit is optional, but you may use any kind of unsweetened dried fruit, such as unsweetened raisins, unsweetened craisins, unsweetened dried blueberries, chopped unsweetened/unsulphured dried apricots, chopped unsweetened/unsulphured dried figs, or even unsweetened chopped dates (in addition to the date paste that's used as a sweetener in this granola). Just be sure to keep the dried fruit to no more than one large handful. The unsweetened shredded/desiccated coconut is also optional, but you can use any type of dried coconut, like coconut flakes, shredded coconut, or desiccated coconut. Or you could replace the coconut with a small handful of hempseed, chia seeds, whole flaxseeds, or sesame seeds. The cinnamon is optional as well, but complements the matcha beautifully, so I highly recommend using it. Or you could try replacing it with a little ground cloves if you're looking for a different flavor. For other add-ins, you could try vegan white chocolate chips (like Enjoy Life!'s Mini White Baking Chips), vegan dark chocolate chips/morsels (like Enjoy Life!'s Semi-Sweet or Dark Chocolate Morsels), unsweetened cacao nibs, or vegan carob chips (*PLEASE NOTE: Enjoy Life!'s Mini White Baking Chips, Semi-Sweet Morsels, and Dark Chocolate Morsels all have sugar. Choose sugar-free vegan white/dark chocolate chips as needed. Also choose sugar-free vegan carob chips as needed*). Just be sure if you're using dark chocolate chips, white chocolate chips, or carob chips that you toss them into the granola after baking, after the granola has cooled completely.



The "Future Recipes Sneak Peek" is Back!!


It's that time of the month again.. the "Future Recipes Sneak Peek", that is! This is my once-every-three-posts preview of recipes coming to The Dimpled Date next! Three recipes that are perfected or are still being edited and that are on the way to The Dimpled Date soon are:


1. Peaches & Cream Ice Cream

2. Healthy Citrus Cakesicles (3 Ways)

3. Spirulina Piña Colada Cupcakes


..AND MORE!! Stay tuned for these summer recipes and more irresistible treats heading to your kitchen soon ;)


As always,


Enjoy! <3

-K.



Matcha Almond Granola (Vegan, Gluten-Free, Sugar-Free, Fruit-Sweetened, Naturally-Colored)


Prep Time: 15 minutes

Cook Time: 10 to 15 minutes

Total Time: 25 to 30 minutes

Servings: abt 3 cups granola


Ingredients:


-2 cups gluten-free rolled oats (gluten-free old-fashioned oats)

-1/4 cup coconut oil

-2 Tbsp softened coconut butter OR 2 Tbsp unsweetened creamy almond butter (can sub unsweetened creamy cashew butter OR unsweetened creamy nut/seed butter of choice)

-1 1/2 Tbsp unsweetened vegan ceremonial-grade matcha green tea powder (if using a matcha blend like Green Foods's Ceremonial-Grade Matcha Green Tea Energy Blend) OR 2 to 2 1/2 tsp pure matcha (like Sencha Naturals's Everyday Matcha 100% Green Tea Powder)

-1/4 cup + 1 Tbsp date paste (Detoxinista has a great recipe!)

-1/2 cup raw unsalted nuts/seeds of choice (I used walnuts, pecans, and almonds)

-2 Tbsp raw unsalted slivered OR whole almonds (can sub raw unsalted nuts/seeds of choice)

-1 tsp vanilla extract

-1 1/2 tsp almond extract

-handful unsweetened raisins OR unsweetened dried cranberries OR unsweetened/unsulphured dried fruit of choice (optional // chopped, as needed)

-small handful unsweetened flaked/shredded/desiccated coconut (optional)

-pinch cinnamon (optional)


Directions:


1. Make the date paste ahead of time. Preheat oven to 325 degrees Fahrenheit. Line one large baking sheet with parchment paper OR a large silicone baking mat. Chop the nuts/seeds to desired texture.


2. Add the oats, matcha, chopped nuts/seeds of choice, slivered almonds, raisins (if using), desiccated coconut (if using), and cinnamon (if using) to a large mixing bowl. Manually stir to combine.


3. In a small saucepan on the stove over very low heat, melt together the coconut oil, coconut butter (or nut/seed butter of choice), and date paste until just melted, stirring frequently (the date paste won't be fully incorporated and that is OK). Wait to add the vanilla and almond extract. Remove from heat and allow to cool slightly.


4. Pour the melted and slightly cooled coconut oil, coconut butter, and date paste over the oat mixture and add the vanilla extract and almond extract now. Stir together until fully incorporated.


5. Spread the granola out onto the lined baking sheet into a single even layer.


6. Bake in the preheated oven (at 325 degrees F) for 10 to 15 minutes, flipping the granola halfway through.


7. Allow to cool (the granola will form clusters and the flavors in the granola will develop further as it cools).


8. Serve with unsweetened coconut milk yogurt and fresh fruit, with unsweetened plant milk of choice, as a topping for a warm mug of a thick & creamy vegan matcha latte, with a vegan iced matcha latte, atop matcha pancakes/matcha crepes/matcha waffles, on top of vegan matcha ice cream or vegan matcha frozen yogurt, on top of matcha chia pudding, as a topping for your green smoothie/milkshake, or on its own. Can be enjoyed for breakfast, for lunch, as a snack, or as a very healthy dessert. Enjoy!


Store leftovers in an airtight container in the fridge. Can also be stored in an airtight container at room temp for less time.


Nutrition Facts:

Per serving (1/2 cup granola):

Calories: 328 Total Fat: 20.4 grams Saturated Fat: 9 grams

Sodium: 3 mg (0% DV) Total Carbohydrates: 31 grams

Fiber: 5.9 grams Sugars: 9 grams Protein: 8.5 grams

Calcium: 2% (DV) Iron: 16% (DV) Potassium: 7% (DV)

Theine (natural tea caffeine): 9 mg


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