Chocolate-Cherry Granola


One of the first things I did last year after reading the amazing book, The Sugar Smart Diet, was to eliminate packaged cereal from my diet. I had known for a long time that the great majority of cereals – even the supposedly healthy ones – were chock-full of sugar, but I had pushed this uneasy knowledge aside, not wanting to have to consider ways to change.

The Sugar Smart Diet forced me to fully acknowledge the serious and real ramifications of eating a sugar-loaded diet – and it gave me concrete, delicious solutions to how I could reduce my processed-sugar consumption. I highly, highly recommend this book. Even if you don’t feel like you have a major sugar problem (you might, without knowing it) or aren’t trying to lose weight (I wasn’t, but I still majorly benefitted from the knowledge presented), the scores of included recipes alone will be worth it to you. The Sugar Smart Diet‘s recipe for Power Granola, for instance, was the first time that I ever made my own granola and enjoyed it. It is also processed-sugar-free – except for the dried cranberries in it, since sugar is typically added to those to make them less tart. My chocolate-cherry granola is also processed-sugar-free – except for the dried cherries I used (which had sugar added to them for the same reason). While not incredibly chocolaty-tasting (I plan on experimenting with adding additional cacao to change that), it’s still deliciously addictive!

In considering how to make a chocolate sauce that would be processed-sugar free, I thought of dates, which have been used as a natural sweetener in other recipes I’ve encountered. I found and used this method for using dates as a sweetener provided on the site Hold the Sugar, and it worked great. One tip: make sure your dates are nice and fresh, or be sure to soak them extra-long if you’ve had them a while and they’re looking dry. I’ve made the mistake many a time of using too-dry dates in recipes; in this case, the extra soaking worked wonders. But it’s best if they are fresh.

Chocolate-Cherry Granola


  • 1 cup dates
  • 2 1/2 cups old-fashioned oats
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened coconut flakes
  • 1 cup dried cherries
  • 1 cup cashews, chopped
  • 1 cup sliced almonds
  • 2 tbs. flaxseeds, ground
  • 1/2 tsp. sea salt
  • 1 tsp. cinnamon
  • 5 tbs. + 4 tbs. water (You can reserve it from the water you use to soak the dates.)
  • 1/4 cup unsweetened raw cacao
  • 4 tbs. pure maple syrup
  • 1/4 cup coconut oil
  • 3 tbs. grapeseed oil


  1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees.
  2. Place dates fully submerged in a bowl of hot water and soak them for 15 minutes. Dump this water out and replenish with more hot water; soak dates another 15 minutes, or until they are softened-looking. Drain the water, reserving some of it for later use, and transfer the dates to a food processor. Adding a few tablespoons of water at a time, blend the dates until smooth (five tablespoons total ended up being the magic number for me).
  3. While the dates are soaking, mix the oats, coconut, cherries, cashews, almonds, ground flaxseeds, sea salt, and cinnamon together in a large bowl.
  4. Once the dates have been blended to a smooth consistency, add them to a medium saucepan with the cacao, maple syrup, coconut oil, grapeseed oil, and the remaining four tablespoons of water. Cook on medium-low heat, stirring constantly, for three to four minutes, until the sauce has obtained a fluid, chocolatey-looking consistency. It should be thick but not too thick; if the sauce is too thick, add a tablespoon or two of water or oil until it has thinned out into a more sauce-like state. Then blend sauce with the dry granola mixture, doing so quickly so the sauce doesn't end up clumping unevenly.
  5. Spread out granola onto a large baking sheet and bake for 45 minutes, stirring every 15 minutes to help it bake evenly. When done, remove tray from oven and let cool, then spoon granola into an airtight container. Enjoy with plain organic yogurt. Yum!

About The Author



  1. Arielle | 4th May 15

    I love your blog, your posts are amazing! I just followed you, it would be great if we can support each other 🙂 I am so glad I got to discover you <3

  2. Jackie Flood | 4th May 15

    Thank you, Arielle! I’m glad you like it. I just looked at your blog – it’s really awesome!

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