My family is a bit high maintenance, but that is probably, mostly, my influence! My husband grew up on Cocoa Puffs, Cinnamon Toast Crunch and Cocoa Pebbles (the Flintstones's, remember?). Those are really hard to compete with! Since being gluten free, options are limited, highly processed, have questionable ingredients and simply carbo loaded. As usual, I took matters into my own hands. Inspired by a recipes in the cookbook, "At Home in the Whole Foods Kitchen," by Amy Chaplin, I started my granola/cereal journey. Soon, with enough tweaks and honestly, based on what I have on hand in my pantry, I have felt quite comfortable whipping up weekly batches of granola for our whole family to enjoy, with a side of easy-to-make cashew milk (post coming soon).
Oats are the main ingredient, which finding gluten free is quite easy these days. I primarily rely on Bob's Red Mill for my grains and oats. I know they are a great source of manganese, selenium, and phosphorous and also a source of magnesium and iron. Plus, the dietary fiber is high in beta-glucan, which aids in lowering cholesterol and lowering blood sugar.
This recipe calls for 1/2 cup of sesame seeds. Ironically, my son was born with an allergy to sesame seeds, which was uncommon and the poor kids couldn't have hummus! At age five, he was retested and passed, so no more crazy expensive EpiPens for us! These seeds are one of the smallest, but packed with nutrients. Sesame seeds are an excellent source of protein (rich in methionine and tryptophan), and also lignans, fiber, monounsaturated fats, vitamins B1 and B2, and minerals copper, magnesium, iron, zinc, and calcium. The lignans mentioned have antioxidant properties, shown to inhibit the manufacturing of cholesterol in the liver, and therefore may offer the ability to lower total blood cholesterol levels.
The final ingredient I want to highlight here is 🥁...honey! This may be surprising to some since this does not make the granola cleanse friendly. There is a big BUT here though. First, the honey I used here is one my favorites from Beekeeper's Naturals, Superfood Cacoa Honey - sounds amazing right there, huh! This organic raw honey has been blended with raw Ecuadorian cocao. Match made in heaven! Crazy rich in nutrients, antioxidants and supportive enzymes. Raw honey is loaded with nutrients like Vitamins A, B1, B6, B12, C, D, E, folate, minerals calcium, sodium, phosphorus, magnesium, silicon, iron, manganese, and copper! Plus, despite the glucose found in honey, researchers are still trying to understand why it does not elicit the insulin response one would expect as compared to cane sugar. Finally, honey is antimicrobial, antioxidant, anti-tumor, anti-inflammatory, antiviral and it's fermentable substrate feeds our gut bacteria and increases microbial diversities. So I think it totally deserves the title SUPERFOOD!
This recipe has many other nutritious ingredients and I would say a little goes a long way with regards to energy boost and satiety. We store in glass Kilner jars in the pantry for quick snacks and morning cereal, goes well on a smoothie bowl or sprinkled on yogurt.
There are many ways to modify this recipe and swap out nuts for seeds or use other types of seeds. Really, this one is hard to mess up! In fact for this blog post, I went rouge from my traditional recipe and went for a chocolate granola! My original recipe from Amy Chaplin has taken on new life in my kitchen!
CHOCOLATE COCONUT GRANOLA
1/2 cup roasted pumpkin seeds
1/2 cup sprouted sunflower seeds (I use the brand Go Raw)
1/2 cup raw unhulled sesame seeds
5 cups regular rolled oats (I used Bob's Red Mill Gluten Free)
2 1/2 cups dried, unsweetened coconut flakes
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
3 Tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
1/2 cup maple syrup
1/4 cup Superfood Cocoa Honey
1/4 cup coconut butter
1/2 cup coconut oil
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1 Tablespoon vanilla extract
1/3 cup unsulfered golden raisins (optional)
1 cup unsweetened dried cherries (optional)
Preheat oven to 300*F. Line two rimmed baking sheets with parchment paper and set aside. Place oats, seeds, coconut, cinnamon, cocoa in a large bowl; toss to combine and set aside.
Warm maple syrup, honey, coconut butter, coconut oil, and salt in a small saucepan over medium heat. Stir until the mixture begins to simmer, then remove from heat and stir in the vanilla. Carefully pour the sweet mixture in to the oat mixture and stir to evenly combine.
Divide between baking sheets and bake for 15 minutes. Stir, rotate baking sheets, and bake for another 15 minutes. Stir again and return to oven for an additional 5-10 minutes or until granola is golden and toasty.
If you do not add dried fruit, I leave out on the stove top to cool before storing in glass jars. If you wish to add, place warm granola in a bowl, add fruit, and toss gently. Allow to cool completely before storing in jars. Granola will keep well for 4-6 weeks!
Ballantyne, S. Honey. Retrieved from: https://www.thepaleomom.com/wiki/honey/
Ballantyne, S. (2018). Cheat or Treat, Let's Talk Sweets! Retrieved from: https://www.thepaleomom.com/podcast-cheat-or-treat/?fbclid=IwAR1lQddTHL1ual4uimTjJNhhgV0jP3_sVzHqPsDvbHKAGS1FuTCePYHfBAw
Chaplin, A (2011). At home in the whole foods kitchen. Boulder, CO: Roost Books.
Murry, M., Pizzorno, J., & Pizzorno, L. (2005). The Encycolpedia of Healing Foods. New York, NY: Atria Books.