Crunchy granola fans, meet chocolate-covered cherry fans. Now, both of you, behold this cereal of your dreams: tart cherries, crispy sprouted nuts, flakes of coconut, cacao powder, and maple syrup. No grains, no weirdness, and pleasantly mild sweetness; only a superb granola to be eaten out of hand, spoon, or yogurt-drenched bowl. The best part? How each super-crunchy bite yields ever so slightly into chewiness when encountering a piece of dried tart cherry. The best of both worlds, all in one granola.
It's easy to have a love-love relationship with all kinds of granola. Crunchy, toothsome, sweet, not-so-sweet, hippie, paleo, homemade: it is all tasty, not to mention convenient. There's even lingering fond memories of that mass-market "natural" granola of our youth—the brand that we all found out was using weird oils and sugars to make it taste exactly the same every time. Hmph.
Luckily, we live in a golden age of granola, especially for the gluten-averse. Real-food cereals are filling the specialty shelves with nuts, spices, fruit, and even things like coffee and salt. Lark Ellen Farm of Ojai (Oh hi!), California is one of those granola makers with flavors to knock your socks off. Like this Cacao Cherry, inspired by the delicious pairing of rich chocolate and tart cherries. While the crunchiness of the sprouted and dried nuts is the foundation of the Lark Ellen experience, it is the mild sweetness and the occasional chewy cherry that sets this flavor apart. Other flavors are sweeter, but this one remains my favorite for its ability to tame a growling tummy and stave off any pending chocolate bar urges.
Not just one, or two, but SIX different kinds of sprouted nuts and seeds fill this bag. Sure, simplicity is fun sometimes, but other times (like now) having a symphony of textures and flavors in your mouth is quite amazing. Why sprouted? Nutrition, in a nutshell. (Ha!) Sprouting and then drying a nut or seed allows some of the nutrients to develop without the breakdown or damage that can occur when a nut is made crispy by baking at high temperatures. It's the difference between letting your clothes flap in the gentle breeze on a laundry line versus tumbling them at temperatures so hot you can't touch them in a sealed machine.
I'll let the folks from Lark Ellen describe their Cacao Cherry recipe and its place on their table, "Chocolate and Cherries go together like bread and butter! Except this pairing is missing the grains. Lightly sweetened and crunchy, this grain free granola is less decadent than it sounds. Unsweetened cocoa, unsweetened dark cherries are combined with our nuts and seeds to bring you a delicious and healthy way to curb your sweet tooth."
This is how Kelley (the founder of Lark Ellen), describes her "how" and "why" in granola-making, "Our grainless granola products are made from quality nuts and seeds, never sourced from China, and are lovingly made in small batches. No fillers, additives or grains of any kind are used. We sprout and dehydrate the ingredients at a low temperature in order to preserve the nutrition and flavors while also making them more easily digestible."
Almonds are naturally delicious and extremely nourishing. Healthy fats, fiber, antioxidants, calcium, zinc, selenium, copper, magnesium, manganese, tryptophan and vitamin E are just a handful of the key nutrients that make almonds so nutritious. Almonds are so nutritious — their list of benefits reads like a patent medicine bottle. They’re full of health-giving fats, like oleic acid and linoleic acid, powerful antioxidants that can protect against many forms of cancer (oleic acid can protect women against breast cancer specifically), and can also significantly lower the amount of LDL in your blood, and reduce your risk for heart disease. Almonds can effectively improve your complexion, slow down your aging process, help improve your blood profile by reducing your LDL, build a strong immune system, prevent the onset of high blood pressure and protect you from other diseases like ADHD, asthma and osteoporosis.
Pumpkin seeds are a powerful superfood that everybody should be eating every day. They’ve been used medicinally for thousands of years, and their health benefits are off the charts. They’re loaded with magnesium, calcium, potassium, iron, zinc, and vitamin K, omega-3 fatty acids, antioxidants, and key amino acids like tryptophan and glutamate. Recent studies (none sponsored by Big Pumpkin) are piling up, all underscoring the positive health effects of pumpkin seeds.
Cashews have a rich supply of oleic acid, a classically beautifying oil, great for skin and hair. It also reduces your blood triglyceride and low-density lipoproteins (LDL), and elevates your high-density lipoprotein (HDL) concentration. Cashews are also rich in linolenic acid, which can effectively lower your blood pressure, and also has antioxidant properties which defend your blood vessels from free radicals.
Cashews contain a small amount of zea-xanthin, an important pigment flavonoid antioxidant, which is selectively absorbed into the retinal macula lutea in the eyes, providing protective UV ray filtering functions and helping to prevent age-related macular degeneration.
Cashews are an excellent source of vitamin K, which is indispensable to maintaining healthy bones, and has tumor suppression abilities. Cashew nuts are very rich source of essential minerals, especially manganese, potassium, copper, iron, magnesium, zinc and selenium.
"It all began with a 30 day commitment to avoid all grains. This was a desperate attempt to heal my digestive system. I had been reading how grains and wheat can cause inflammation so I turned my body into an experiment to see if avoiding them would make a difference. At the end of the trial period, I felt amazing! I had dropped 15 pounds, my digestive system improved and some lifelong chronic pain was gone!
I was hooked! I never wanted to go back to grains. This was a big deal for a grain addict like myself. I missed the bread, cereal, pasta and rice but found substitutes. However giving up the morning crunch of cereal was the worst and the most difficult for me to replace. I ate a lot eggs and drank many smoothies but I was not satisfied.
After much experimentation, Grainless Granola Bites were created. They are the perfect solution to my grainless breakfast problem. Not only did I love them but my friends and family also couldn’t get enough of them (even the ones that normally eat grains). And as an unexpected result, it turns out that the Bites also make a delicious healthy snack for long walks, hikes, the gym, tennis, school lunches or anytime a really nutritious treat comes in handy."