For many people—myself included—eating dessert after a meal is a habit that’s hard to break. In my case, I think the issue lies more in the fact that I love baking, which obviously results in eating the baking, but there's actually some science behind why we do this. There are many reasons why we may crave sweets after a big meal, but for many of us, sugar cravings strike essentially because eating a big meal causes our blood sugar levels to rise and then drop suddenly afterwards. Give it a Google! I’m not here to tell you about the science—only to share my favorite, healthy dessert recipe to combat the cravings.
Of course, we could eat something like chocolate or ice cream (and try this healthy "nice" cream substitute if you're craving the cold stuff, btw), but as an athlete I’m careful to make sure that the calories I take in will help fuel my body and thank it for all the daily training I put it through. So I opt for some homemade, refined sugar-free granola instead. I’ll put it on some whole milk Greek yogurt with some berries, and all of a sudden I’m satisfying that sugar craving with some nutrients that my body can actually use. This recipe was given to me by my friend’s mom after I tried it at her home and ate nearly the whole batch in one sitting (thank you, Barbara Henning!). Without further ado, here it is:
Barb’s Olive Oil and Maple Granola
300 grams (3 cups) rolled oats
125 grams (1 cup) raw hulled pumpkin seeds
130 grams (1 cup) raw hulled sunflower seeds
50 grams (1 cup) unsweetened coconut chips or flakes
135 grams (1 ¼ cups) raw pecans, whole or chopped
½ cup honey
1 tsp. kosher salt
175 ml (¾ cup) maple syrup, preferably Grade B (we’re Canadian so of course we have preferences)
120 ml (½ cup) olive oil
1 cup dried cherries
Preheat the oven to 300°F. Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper.
In a large bowl, combine the oats, pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds, coconut chips, pecans, and salt. Stir to mix. Add the olive oil, honey, and maple syrup and stir until well combined. Spread the mixture in an even layer on the prepared sheet pan. Bake, stirring every 15 minutes, until the granola is golden brown and toasted, about 45 minutes. Remove the granola from the oven, and season with more salt to taste. Cool completely on a wire rack. Stir in the dried cherries. Store in an airtight container.
Yield: about 7 cups
Note: This granola will keep at room temperature for up to a month—but once you taste it, I'm betting it won't sit around that long.