Vegan Apple & Almond Maple Granola (refined sugar & gluten-free too)

Salut my lovelies,

Today is the first in my fall fabulous recipe box, and not only is it gluten-free, it is also, drumroll please...
Vegan, dairy-free, soy-free, and refined sugar-free!!!
But that's impossible you say, I, my friends, have been toiling away in the kitchen to make some boom fall recipes that are healthy and taste nothing like cardboard awfulness, which some try to pass off as good and worth exhorbitant prices.
Why, sure, I always wanted to feel homicidal after throwing away my hard earned money, on life sustaining necessities I couldn't afford in the first place! ROAR!
But I digress.   
Anywhoodles, this recipe has become a family favourite, and I now get requests for double and triple batches of it for gifts, for birthdays and for the holidays. My son loves to add this to his smoothies, he gobbles it up faster than I can bake it and get more to him. I prefer to eat it with my vegan coconut yogurt, extra cinnamon sprinkled on top, and some seasonal fruit. People at work just grabbed handfuls and munched away on it like that. You could also dip some fruit in chocolate and then dip it in granola for a nice treat.
Another discovery, was that it was loverly with some heated, unsweetened, almond milk, on those super chilly mornings. It's a nice option over hot oatmeal or cornmeal porridge. What's  cornmeal porridge you ask? Why, you need this yumminess in your life, click the link to get to that recipe, and smile at the life changing breakfast discovery coming your way!
P.s. you can now make it vegan by substituting coconut condensed milk to replace the regular condensed milk. I have had to forgo this creamy, soothing, comfort food, delight, as I am on a no corn, strict, no dairy, mold free diet. However, you should try it, you're really missing out if you have never had it. It is one of the best Jamaican breakfast foods ever and is appreciated by old and young alike.
Okay, back to granola.     
Yeah, that does look good, doesn't it? I decided to make this after dehydrating a rather large amount of apples I had gotten from two different orchards we had gone to. The first being my beloved eco-farm, Au Paradis des Fruits Dunham, and then there's Petch orchards in Hemmingford. Seriously, if you have never gotten apples fresh from an orchard or verger as we call them here in Quebec (a la Francais), you are seriously missing out! The apples are amazing, you're directly supporting local farms, you can choose from a variety of apples-some of which you may have never heard of, along with having a blasty blast trying apple and pear based noms!       
Most vergers here have apples and pears, some even have other products like, pumpkins, berries, and scrumdidilyumptious honey!     
I adore the basswood honey we get from Dunham and no, I don't want to share it! Yes, it's just that good.       
Sorry, not really sorry. There's loads I will share but zee honey, she is too special. I buy you your own, and that's called compromise; even when being a a**. Hehheh.
Where were we before the honey greed tangent? Oh yeah, granola and apples. So, I dehydrated loads of these tasty apples for snacking and baking during the colder months. I like stacking my  pantry.       
Ironically, I was not very well over the last year and the stacks of food stuffs I had dehydrated and canned were quite a bonus in my then, dangeously sickly life.
I was prepaaaaaaaaaared! If you don't know the movie reference, too bad and sad for you; you shall not pass into the realm of hoodwinked geekery.
Moving forward, I decided that apples and maple needed to hang out in a crunchy goodness kinda way, so I threw stuff together and it actually came out boomtastical!!! Toot, toot! Yes, I tooted my own horn. Nobody else wants to go near that thing!

I made sure to use gluten-free oats, and vegan ingredients that steered clear of soya and refined sugar, as my tummy was not tolerating any of that. The fact that all these ingredients did not trigger any response was a major win in my book.
I would suggest you use your own dehydrated apples that are not sugar laden or mixed with sulfites. I found out the hard way that sulfites are not our friends, and I should stay clear of that trouble maker at all costs! Yup, that means no wine of any kind for me either. Don't cry for me Argentina, I don't really like anything other than sangria, which let's be honest, is grown up fruit punch that I am convinced the kool-aid man must have been drinking. What other excuse could one have for smashing into strange people's houses and yelling, "Oh, yeah!"
Get the bleep outta here & fix this wall you insensitive, clumsy oaf!
Anywhoodles, enough sillies. You came for a recipe and I'm a give it to yah!
As always, there are pics to guide and inspire you.
1/2 Cup Almonds chopped
1/2 Cup Ground almond flour
2 Cups Oats, toasted
1 Cup Warmed almond milk unsweetened
1/4 Cup Ground flax seed
3 Tbsp Hemp seeds
2 Tbsp Hemp seed powder aka hemp protein powder
3 Tbsp Ground tiger nuts
1/8 Cup Organic coconut flour
1 tsp Ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp Freshly scraped nutmeg
1/2 tsp Pink sea salt
1/2 Cup Unsweetened apple sauce
2 Cups Macintosh apple organic, shredded with or without skin, it's  up to you. I also use granny smith apples to success in this recipe.
3 Tbsp Exttra virgin olive oil organic or Melted organic coconut oil
1/4 tsp Walnut oil
1/3 Cup Grade B maple syrup
1 tsp Vanilla extract (real vanilla) or Vanilla bean paste

2 Cups Dried diced apples or dried blueberries of you prefer.
1/3 Cup Maple flakes


-Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit

-In a cast iron skillet, on medium low heat, dry toast oats, stirring constantly, until just starting to smell nutty. REMOVE FROM HEAT IMMEDIATELY!
Oats burn very easily, when off the heat pour them into a bowl right away to stop cooking and prevent burning. If your oats burn, you must throw them away and begin again or the entire recipe will taste burnt and bitter. Don't waste expensive ingredients for one mistake. Begin again, sorry but not sorry. Pour the warm almond milk over warm oats, stir well, allow to soak in for 10 minutes, while you prep your other ingredients.

-In a large bowl mix all dry ingredients, including oats, stir well.

-In a seperate bowl, mix all wet ingredients, stir well.

-Add wet to dry, mix until well incorporated.

-On a parchment lined tray, pour out the granola and spread out in a lumpy, even, way. Don't push it down, you want lumps, bumps, and chunks.

-Bake for 15 minutes, shake up the tray, turn it half way round and back into the oven it goes. Bake for another 15 minutes, shake up the tray, using a spatula break into some pieces, I like big chunky bites so I don't break it up too much.

-Remember to turn tray half way, back in the oven it goes for 10-20 minutes.

-This process usually takes 40-50 minutes but depending on how wet the apples were, it can take an additional 10 to 30 minutes or more. You want a golden hue to your granola. Stir it up one more time and put back in the oven, making sure to turn the tray half way when placing it back in.

-Turn off the oven and leave the granola inside, I will put a wooden spoon in the oven door to leave it slightly ajar, so it doesn't burn but this is only if my granola is already quite golden brown. If your granola is already dark, don't leave it in too long. This last step is only to ensure it has dried out to the core of the granola nuggets.

-Remove from oven, allow to cool completely. Transfer to a bowl, add toppings and mix together well. Feel free to use other toppings like coconut chips, chocolate chips, or other dried fruit of choice like cranberries.

-Keep in an airtight container for up to 4 weeks. Ours never lasts this long in the house but good luck! I like to reuse glass jars or Mason jars to store it in.

While my oats were soaking, I chopped my almonds and walnuts.

Stir carefully to keep some chunks to your batch.

If you need help with this, have questions, or would like clarification, leave your comments and questions down below. I love to hear from you.

Take care, be well, love freely...
Chef Kiki

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