Meatless Mondays: Quinoa Granola

The ideal DIY gift for the gluten-, nut-, and dairy-free friends and family in your life.

Ian Knauer is a regular contributor to TakePart. He worked for ‘Gourmet’ and is the author of the IACP Award–nominated cookbook ‘The Farm.’

If you’re in my family or close circle of friends, you can bet on receiving some sort of edible gift from me this time of year. And everyone seems to love it. A jar of gianduia or a tin of cookies is all it takes to bring a holiday smile to the faces of my loved ones. I’ll whip up a large batch of something, divide it between bags, cans, or jars, and write a little label with a "Merry Christmas" greeting. And it used to be so simple. There were no nut or dairy allergies, no one was gluten-free, so the sky was the limit.

But then it happened. Both of my sisters made a change to better their health. They both cut dairy and gluten out of their diets, and they’re sticking to it. They say that they feel better without those foods, and as their big brother, I’m happy for them and do everything I can to support them. That means that cookies and gianduia are off the list of edible gift possibilities. So this year I’m moving to granola.

Many granola recipes have both dairy and gluten in them, thanks to ingredients like butter and oats that were processed in a gluten-friendly factory. But it is just as easy to make a dairy-free, gluten-free version using olive oil and oats from a gluten-free facility. A handful of dried cranberries drives home the holiday theme, and I’m left with two very happy, healthy sisters.

Quinoa Granola

Serves 4 to 6

1/4 cup amaranth

2 cups old-fashioned oats

1 cup quinoa

1 cup shredded unsweetened coconut

1 1/4 teaspoons fine sea salt

1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil

1/2 cup maple syrup

1 cup dried cranberries

Preheat the oven to 275°F.

Place a large heavy pot over high heat; then add the amaranth and cover. Toast the amaranth until it is puffed and several shades darker, about 3 minutes. Transfer the puffed amaranth to a large bowl.

Stir in the oats, quinoa, coconut, salt, and cinnamon. Stir in the oil and maple. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper; then divide the granola between the baking sheets.

Bake the granola, stirring occasionally, until golden, about 45 minutes.

Let the granola cool to room temperature; then stir in the cranberries and serve or store at room temperature in airtight containers.

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