I know what you’re thinking—it’s spring, why are you posting a granola recipe? But hey, granola really knows no season—it’s a year-round staple! Plus, a Springtime Slow Cooker Granola just sounded good to me this week, when I’m try to get back to more sane, non-Easter-y eating.
I wanted a granola with more of a “springy” feel, so I went for dried apricots instead of raisins and swapped the usual honey for a drizzle of maple syrup, which you probably know is made in the springtime. (If you like maple syrup, check out this Maple Syrup Egg Custard recipe I posted last year.)
I love to just snack on this granola—it’s lightly sweet and full of wonderful textures and flavor—so satisfying! But of course, it’s equally tasty over yogurt or with milk (heck, I won’t tell if you sprinkle it over ice cream either).
Now, about the amaranth. I’ve cooked with this gluten-free grain before, but I’ve never popped it. So, in order to not mess it up, I turned to YouTube (where else?) and watched a couple of quick video tutorials to learn the tricks to it. I can sum most of it up in these messages: make sure pan is really hot, keep the amaranth moving and remove it from the heat AS SOON AS THE POPPING SLOWS (not after it has stopped, at which point some of the amaranth may already be burning—yes, it goes that fast). Some of the videos are entertaining because they leave the cover off the pan so viewers can see what’s happening (but in reality, it helps to cover the pan with a lid—less clean up that way). I tried to describe the amaranth popping process accurately in the recipe, but if you want to see a demo, just search “popping amaranth” on YouTube and check it out—there are many short instructional videos on the topic.
- 1/4 cup amaranth
- 1/3 cup melted butter or coconut oil
- 1/4 cup real maple syrup
- 2 Tablespoons brown sugar
- 1 teaspoon almond extract (optional)
- 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1/4 teaspoon ground cardamom
- 1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
- 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 2 cups old-fashioned, gluten-free oats
- 3/4 cup unsweetened dried coconut flakes
- 1 cup sliced almonds
- 1/4 cup golden flax meal
- 3/4 cup chopped, dried apricots
- Heat a medium saucepan (choose one with a lid) over medium high heat until hot, about 4 minutes. Add 2-3 Tablespoons of the amaranth to the dry saucepan, cover it, and shake the pan so the grain doesn't burn. It should begin popping almost immediately; if it doesn't, the pan wasn't hot enough. The amaranth will pop very quickly! Continue shaking the pan and as soon as you see most of the amaranth has popped (it turns white when it is popped), immediately remove it from the heat and pour the popped amaranth into a bowl. Return the pan to the heat, add another small amount of amaranth and repeat the procedure until the total 1/4 cup has been popped (you'll end up with about 1 cup of popped amaranth total). Set it aside.
- In the slow cooker crock, whisk together the butter or coconut oil, maple syrup, brown sugar, extract (if using), salt, cardamom, ginger and cinnamon. Add the oats, coconut, almonds, flax and the reserved, popped amaranth to the crock and stir until all ingredients are well combined. Cover and cook 1 hour on HIGH.
- Stir mixture well, then prop the lid open with a wooden spoon handle. Continue to cook on HIGH (with lid propped open) for an additional 1 1/2 hours, stirring every 30 minutes or so. Continue to keep the lid vented during cooking. The granola is done when it becomes a toasted, golden brown color.
- Stir in the chopped apricots, then transfer the hot granola to a sheet pan lined with parchment paper or foil. Allow granola to cool completely. Break up any big chunks of granola and store in an airtight container for up to 2 weeks.