Back story: Every year on the four days leading up to Ash Wednesday, Panama’s carnival takes place, which Panamanians call “Los Carnavales”. Although it is not an official holiday, the  country basically shuts down + Panamanians put their inhibitions aside + let the party spirit rum take over.

Most people go to the “Culecos”, which are large fire trucks that blast music + get surrounded by drunk people dancing in the street while being sprayed with water. Hello, Do I look like the type of person who voluntary likes to get drenched. Umm. No, thank you.

But as much as I’ve refused to partake in all this monkey business in the past, no one cares. Last years, I went out for a jog. You know this won’t end well, don’t you? Yeah, I was victim to water guns + water balloons + water buckets, despite my cry for help, “Please. Have mercy on my soul. I will get electrocuted. I’m carrying my iPhone with me”. Didn’t work.

Apparently being the Grinch of any holiday, back fires, so this year I’m embracing this stupid celebration head on. In preparation, I’m stocking up on munchies, the healthy kind, to counterbalance all those mojitos ya’ know?

Today, I’m pausing the cook-a-thon to show you how to make one of my new favorite creations. This Strawberry Granola drizzled with Chocolatey Sauce is 100% clean + naturally sweet + gluten free + vegan + oh so perfect for snacking. You can even use it as a lethal weapon if someone dares to test drive their Super Soaker on you. The chocolate sauce in the tropical sun will have them screaming, “Mommy!”. You sold on the granola now, aren’t you?

Here’s what you’ll need:

Granola Ingredients:

  • 3 cup gluten-free oats
  • 1/2 cup hemp seeds
  • 1/2 cup pumpkin seeds
  • 1 cup sliced almonds
  • 1/3 cup unsweetened coconut flakes
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup pure maple syrup
  • 1/2 cup coconut oil, melted
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1 cup dried strawberries (make sure their unsweetened)*

Sauce Ingredients:

  • 2 tablespoons cacao powder
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons young coconut water
  • 2 Medjool dates, pitted (or 1 tablespoon maple syrup)
  • 1/2 vanilla bean, scrapped



*If you can’t find desiccated strawberries you can make them yourself. It takes a bit of time, but it’s super easy. Wash + pat dry strawberries + slice lengthwise. You should get about 5-6 slices from each strawberry. Turn the oven to the lowest heat setting. Spread strawberry slices on a rack or a tray that has holes to let the hot air circulate under the strawberries. Oven dry for 2-3 hours. At around 2 hour mark, carefully turn the strawberry slices over. Once the strawberries are ready, remove from the heat + let cool.

Turn the heat up to 300˚ F.

In a large bowl combine oats + seeds + almonds + coconut flakes + salt. In a separate bowl, combine maple syrup + coconut oil + vanilla + whisk to combine. Pour wet mixture over the dry mixture + stir so that everything is well coated.

On a parchment covered tray, spread mixture so that it is a think layer. Bake for 45 minutes – 1 hour, stirring every 15 minutes so that the edges do not burn. Once done, let cool for 15 minutes. Pour granola into a bowl + toss with dried strawberries.

To make the Chocolatey Sauce, just combine all the ingredients in a food processor + pulse.

Store the leftover Strawberry Granola + Chocolatey Sauce separately in an airtight container in the fridge until ready to devour.

Serve the Strawberry Granola in a bowl or kraft paper brag + drizzle with the Chocolatey Sauce to send it over the top.



Here in tropical paradise, the chocolate melts fast, so things might get a little messy. But heck, there’s nothing a good ol’ finger licking technique can’t fix.

And now it’s back to the kitchen for me. I have a cookbook to write!

Photograhy Credit

Marcela Macias