The Most Delicious Grain-Free Granola Recipe
Well, I guess I’ve gone and done it. I scored on Christmas gifts this year. Yes, I got some good stuff from my sweetheart and family, but I’m talking about what we gave, not what we received. We really wanted to send away something homemade, healthy and delicious. After careful consideration and a couple of trials, we decided on granola. Not just any granola, though, this is grain-free granola. Unless you have a nut allergy, this granola will rock your world (I guess if you have a nut allergy it would rock your world too, but not in a good way). I first learned that I could even make granola last winter when I was given “The Grain Free Family Table” by Carrie Vitt. There’s a section of her amazing cookbook that is focused on kids. I’ve explored pretty much every recipe in this section even though I rarely feed that particular sector of the population. Who doesn’t love chicken nuggets, grilled cheese and pizza? When your body doesn’t agree with most grains, these cravable go-to foods are usually out of the question. In this cookbook, they get to re-join the rotation, as well as some sweets… cookies, peanut butter shakes and…granola. A sweet treat for kids of all ages!
Now, it turns out I don’t like to follow recipes. Not exactly, at least. When I’m baking I’ve discovered that things turn out better if I do follow the instructions a little more precisely, but that doesn’t mean I always do it. This granola recipe is right up my alley; after following it once, I haven’t opened the book back up. It’s incredibly simple, hard to mess up and can use just about any ingredients you have in your pantry. You can make as much or as little as you want, and while it takes anywhere from 8-24 hours to actually get granola out of it, it requires all of about 15 minutes of your attention. Every thank you text, call or facebook post we’ve received has included a request for the recipe and a suggestion to box it and sell it. Well, I’ve got a lot on my plate these days so selling it isn’t going to happen anytime soon, but I am thrilled to share a recipe with you!
Mind you, I’m still not going to open the cookbook to reference the original recipe. I also use very loose measurements when I cook and would encourage you to do the same when you try this one out.
Approximately 4 cups of nuts, chopped
A combination is best. I typically use a little over a cup each of almonds, walnuts and cashews. Other great ideas are macadamias, brazil nuts, hazelnuts and pecans. I usually stay away from peanuts, they take over the flavor in my opinion.
Approximately 1 cup of unsweetened coconut flakes (or shredded)
Approximately 1 cup of seeds
I actually use almost a cup each of pepitos (raw pumpkin seeds, they’re green) and sunflower seeds. I also like to add in chia seeds, hemp seeds or flax seeds for an extra nutrient boost.
Approximately 3/4 cup raw honey
Approximately 2 Tablespoons coconut oil or ghee
Ghee gives a more savory flavor, coconut keeps the granola sweet.
2 pinches of coarse Celtic or Himalayan sea salt
2 cap-fulls vanilla extract
Tools to collect:
1 large bowl for mixing
Blender (or just chop the nuts by hand)
Wooden or plastic spoon
Cookie sheet with walls
How it’s done:
Heat the oven to 175 degrees (or the lowest temp your oven will go) and line your cookie sheet with the parchment paper. Chop the nuts, either by pulsing in the blender or by hand, and add them to the mixing bowl. Add the seeds and coconut flakes and stir with either your hand or the spoon. In the saucepan on low heat, combine the honey, oil and salt until incorporated and runny, but not too hot. Remove the saucepan from the heat, add the vanilla and stir. Pour the wet mixture over the nut/seed mixture and mix well with the spoon (you can use your hand here too, but I don’t recommend it…. sticky!!). Spread the mixture onto the lined cookie sheet. Place the granola in the oven, preferably on the top rack, and leave for about 8 hours, stirring occasionally if you feel like it, but it’s not necessary. Check it occasionally, tasting to be aware of when it begins to get crunchy. Depending on the climate and humidity of your home, it could take another 2-4 hours to get crunchy. Since it’s really dry here, I can usually take it out around 8 hours and it gets crunchy really quickly on the counter as it cools. Once it’s cooled and not too sticky, break it up with your hands and store it in a glass jar. Sometimes I add raisins or goji berries to the jar once it’s all cooked. I don’t recommend adding any fruit while it’s drying in the oven… it tends to cook quickly and develops a weird, caramelized taste that I’m not a fan of. Feel free to explore with other flavors too! I’ve added orange zest and a little fresh orange juice to my honey mixture, also a dash of cayenne or chili powder to make a more sweet/spicy snack. I’m brainstorming a more savory idea too… maybe garlic or jalepenos? You could also use a different extract besides vanilla; almond, lemon, mint?
*Nutritional Note: You may notice that earlier I said this project could take up to 24 hours. I should explain myself – there is an optional step that may help some people with digestion of this delicious treat. Nuts and seeds contain phytic acid, which makes them difficult for some to digest and retain the nutrients being provided. When you soak nuts for 8-12 hours, they release the phytic acid, making them easier on the system. Only problem, then, is that you have water-logged nuts; better for making nut milk or cheese, but not granola. The way to dry out the nuts is the same way to dry out the granola – you let them sit in a very low-temp oven for 8-12 hours. This can double the time in the oven, plus the time to soak, so when I make granola it tends to take a couple of days, which seems ridiculous to some, and I get it. My suggestion would be to experiment and figure out if you need this step or not. If it helps your digestive system, I strongly recommend making the effort. If you feel that it makes no difference, feel free to skip it. Typically, when I buy nuts they get soaked and roasted before they ever live in my pantry. Whether I plan to make granola or just snack on them, they’re already free of the phytic acid that makes them difficult for my gut. It takes some getting used to, but it makes a world of difference for me. Since I can’t eat many grains, nuts are a staple of my diet. I keep a baggie of mixed nuts in almost every bag or jacket pocket for quick boosts of energy. Plus, they’re a great source for those Omega 3 fatty acids we’re being reminded are so good for us.
So there you have it, friends, you can now make the most amazingly delicious grain-free granola that should be packaged and sold by me (and probably Carrie Vitt for that matter). It makes a great quick breakfast over some plain kefir or yogurt with berries. It’s a perfect sweet treat to keep in a dish on the counter (instead of candy). I even like to use it as a crumble over fresh fruit cobblers or pies. However you find yourself enjoying it, be sure you make enough to share because everyone will want a handful after they taste it. Turns out, 1-cup baggies just weren’t enough for Christmas gifts and everyone is asking for more!
To joyous times in the kitchen and delicious recipes to (not) follow…