Granola Cluster Cookie Bites (Gluten Free, Dairy Free, and More Free)

gluten free, dairy free, grain free, egg free, vegan, granola, cookies, National Granola Day

Granola Cluster Cookies Bites (Gluten Free, Dairy Free, and More Free)

Somewhere I read that today was National Granola or National Granola Bar day. Ah, the power of suggestion. Suddenly I wanted granola. In a fierce way. Specifically, I wanted granola clusters. I used to love cereal that contained clusters of oats, nuts, and brown sugar. It’s rare for me to eat cereal now. I don’t usually find it to be the best food to fuel my day, so I decided to turn my granola “need” into Granola Cluster Cookies. I know … I went from saying cereal wasn’t healthy enough to start my day to cookies. Not your expected progression, but these cookies really are healthy enough to put in a cereal bowl and cover with milk (dairy or non-dairy, of course) if you wish. I haven’t done that with the first two batches of these cookies because Mr. GFE and I just enjoyed nibbling on these cookies, one or two at a time. We mostly like pulling off small pieces of these cookies for “little bites” versus eating them the way one traditionally eats a cookie. Hence, the final name of Granola Cluster Cookie Bites.

This recipe is gluten free, dairy free, refined sugar free, and vegan (if you like), with grain-free and nut-free options, too. However, you can make the recipe with one or two eggs if you prefer—I made a version like that and it is more “cookie like”—but honestly, we liked the egg-free version just as well, if not better. The first photo shown is the egg-free version. The second photo shows the version made with eggs. Oh, and for the record, Mr. GFE says that the only thing these treats need is some raisins. He’s the raisin lover in the family. I am not. But you could certainly add some raisins if you’d like. (See additional possibilities for variations on this recipe in the Notes section.)

I noted on my gfe Facebook page that these cookie bites aren’t the most photogenic. Some gfe readers disagreed and were quick to request the recipe, so here you go!

gluten free, dairy free, refined sugar free, egg free, vegan, granola, oats, quinoa flakes, cookies,

Granola Cluster Cookie Bites (Gluten Free, Dairy Free, and More Free)

Granola Cluster Cookie Bites (Gluten Free, Dairy Free, and More Free)
  • about 9 Medjool dates, pitted
  • ¾ cup maple syrup
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • ¼ cup coconut oil, liquefied
  • 1 ½ cups certified gluten-free oats or quinoa flakes (I used quinoa flakes; see notes)
  • 1 ½ cups chopped nuts (of your choice; I used blanched slivered almonds and chopped walnuts)
  • ⅔ cup almond flour
  • 1 ½ tbsp coconut flour
  • ¼ cup roasted cocoa nibs or chocolate chips (optional)
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Line large baking sheet with parchment paper.
  2. Chop dates fairly well. (I used my kitchen shears for this task.) Add chopped dates to large mixing bowl and add maple syrup and vanilla extract. Stir so that the date pieces are covered. Set aside.
  3. Toast oats (or quinoa flakes) and nuts, if desired. (See notes for additional guidance.)
  4. Add coconut oil, oats (or quinoa flakes), nuts, and all other ingredients to the mixing bowl that you set aside earlier. Mix until all ingredients are incorporated. Let batter sit for at least 5 minutes or so until it thickens and “sets up” some naturally.
  5. Drop dough by rounded tablespoonful onto prepared baking sheet. Use fingers to press batter into mounds if necessary. The cookies can be placed close together as they will not spread when baked.
  6. Bake for about 12 minutes until cookies are set and fairly golden brown.
  7. Cool on baking sheet another minute or two. Remove with spatula to cool.
Makes about 2 dozen 2-inch cookies.
You might wish to toast your oats and/or nuts before adding them to your cookie batter. Toasting definitely adds more flavor to some such ingredients, but not others. On the flip side, the toasting also makes some ingredients less absorbent. As I stated, I opted for quinoa flakes in this recipe and wanted them to absorb and bind well with the other ingredients, so I preferred not toasting them. If you need a nut-free version, seeds, such as sunflower seeds and pepitas, should work in place of nuts, if necessary. I think this recipe could be made with all nuts (and/or seeds) versus oats or quinoa flakes, but I have not yet tried that version. If you wish to add some raisins, include those in the oats (or quinoa flakes) or nuts/seeds measurement. I don't think that you want to go over the total of 3 cups for that measurement. If you want a cookie with more protein, you can certainly make the recipe with one or two eggs if you like—I made a version like that and it is more “cookie like”---but honestly, we liked the egg-free cookies just as well. The latter has more maple flavor. However, the cookies that include eggs do hold together a bit better and perhaps have more of a typical cookie consistency than the vegan version.

 This post is linked to Gluten-Free WednesdaysAllergy-Free Wednesdays, Wellness Weekend, and Whole Food Fridays.

Not just gf, but gfe!

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22 Responses to “Granola Cluster Cookie Bites (Gluten Free, Dairy Free, and More Free)”

  1. Ina Gawne on January 21st, 2013 10:14 am

    Shirley – these granola cookies sound delicious! I am not a big cereal fan either…but these cookies are packed full of goodness. Yummmm!

    • Shirley on January 24th, 2013 9:13 am

      Hi there, Ina!–Thank you! I know that we really loved these and I plan to make another version soon. In fact, I keep thinking of tons of different variations I can make. :-)


  2. Vicky on January 21st, 2013 2:35 pm

    These cookies look so tasty and nutritious Shirley. I think if I make them the whole batch would go in minutes!

    Lovely recipe :)


    • Shirley on January 24th, 2013 9:15 am

      Vicky–Although this recipe didn’t make as many cookies as some of my recipes, they lasted longer than most batches as they are nutrient dense/hearty. So they might last a bit longer than you expect. Anyway, we loved them! :-)


  3. Sarena (The Non-Dairy Queen) on January 21st, 2013 3:10 pm

    These look amazing to me! No, cereal isn’t necessarily the best way to start the day, but “cookies” like this really are! I always need quick easy things to encourage the kids to eat breakfast before school. These definitely fall into that category! YUM!

    • Shirley on January 24th, 2013 9:17 am

      Sarena–If my claim to fame is giving folks cookies to start the day, I’ll take it. ;-) I don’t think you’d have any problem getting the boys to eat these for breakfast. If they eat eggs, the egg version might offer more in the way of nutrition, but I really like both versions. I’m looking forward to more variations, like adding in some dried cranberries or apricots. :-)


  4. InTolerant Chef on January 21st, 2013 5:26 pm

    I sure love the idea of cookies for breakfast! Yummy!

    • Shirley on January 24th, 2013 9:18 am

      InTolerant Chef–It seems like that idea is the biggest selling point for these cookies! ;-)


  5. Maggie on January 21st, 2013 9:58 pm

    Shirley these are fabulous! I LOVE the ingredient list. Pinned for future reference :)

    • Shirley on January 24th, 2013 9:19 am

      Thanks so much, Maggie! You were the one who taught me how to soak dates (when I made your Almond Dream Shake). Soaking them in maple syrup seemed like a pretty good alternative. ;-)

      Thanks for the pin/share, too! So appreciated! xo,

  6. Linda on January 22nd, 2013 12:59 pm

    I just love a good oatmeal cookie, and these sound like a real winner!

    • Shirley on January 24th, 2013 9:20 am

      Hi Linda–Thanks, dear! These cookies can satisfy the oatmeal cookie lover and more. ;-)


  7. amber on January 25th, 2013 1:13 am

    Hi Shirley,

    These little granola bites looks just awesome. And I’m soooo impressed with the ingredients. Wow! Granola anything is my favorite, favorite. How have you been feeling lately? Have you been eating a lot of unrefined sugar alternatives? I do hope you’re feeling great and your New Year is off to a productive, healthy start.

    I am going to make these tomorrow – doing some weekly baking with my son. Still getting used to my new kitchen. Haven’t been baking much, but always find so much inspiration from my blogging buddies. I sort of hate baking, so I like finding recipes that have been tested and approved. I like to just get to it, you know. And I think they are very photogenic – what you see is what you get, right. Wish I had one right now, warm out of the oven with a tall glass of cold walnut milk (okay, I’m not helping my cravings right now).

    Hugs to you lovely friend,

    • Shirley on January 28th, 2013 10:53 am

      Hi Amber–I’m still catching up with all your “catch-up” comments. ;-) Truthfully, I find that I do best without even unrefined sugar, but I do enjoy using the unrefined versions like maple syrup. It’s great in this recipe. I used brown sugar for cookies for our support group’s open house event yesterday and, boy, did I feel that sugar rush. :-(

      It’s so funny to hear that you “sort of hate baking” as you make so many amazing baked goods! I’m glad you are enjoying yur new home. I’m trying to envision you there. I hope you’ll share some photos on your blog later.

      I still have not tried walnut milk, but really must soon. :-)

      Thanks, dear! Big hugs back,

      • amber on January 29th, 2013 9:04 pm

        Hi Shirley,

        I made these last week! So yummy. I made only a few minor adjustments. One being I cut the maple syrup down to 1/4 cup, added coconut milk make up for the lost liquid, added few drop of stevia, sunflower seeds for the “nuts,” and a little almond butter (for that nutty flavor)..oh, and I went with dried cranberries so my son could have these (no chocolate for my little guy yet). So, overall, everyone LOVED them. I have to say, I love the use of dates. They add a nice texture to granola bars/bites that I adore. I will share a picture of my batch tomorrow on FB. And thanks for sharing with us on AFW. I am featuring your recipe tonight. :-)


        • Shirley on January 30th, 2013 6:16 pm

          Amber–You’re the sweetest! :-) So glad you made a version that worked for your family. I’m sure that adding some almond butter was great. That stuff is magical! And Debi and I had been talking about how dried cranberries would be lovely in these bites. And I agree on the dates, too. Never in a million years did I guess that Mr. GFE would eat these treats with dates, and eat them very happily I might add. ;-) So tickled that you highlighted these on AFW! Must go look up your photo on FB now!


  8. Angela on January 27th, 2013 11:15 pm

    Well! I made these today, and it was love at first bite and they are very addictive! I made them with the egg option, and left out the chocolate chips (simply because “the rats ate them” (cough cough) and I used half quenoa flakes and half oatmeal.
    They turned out delicious in every way, and it’s hard to stop eating them. I have a feeling they might also be great to take along on trips, especially long flights, as gluten free meal….(that is, if they last that long ;)

    • Shirley on January 28th, 2013 10:56 am

      Hi Angela–That’s the news that any blogger always wants to hear! Thanks for sharing exactly how you made your version. :-) I think they would be great for trips. The egg version (even alternative “eggs”) would hold up much better for travel I think, due to the added moisture. Thanks so much for your fabulous review! You always make my day with your comments!


  9. Kim - Cook It Allergy Free on January 28th, 2013 11:39 am

    What a perfect way to start your morning!! I am definitely going to give these a try this week!! Love the ingredients. :D

    • Shirley on January 29th, 2013 11:52 am

      Kim–Thanks so much! They were a great way to start my day … two mornings in a row. ;-) If you want them to keep a few days, I recommend the version made with eggs. The vegan way is just a bit drier and might become more crumbly over time.


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