The Healthiest Grain-Free, Low-Sugar Granola That's Good For Your Gut {and How To Activate Nuts}

The Healthiest Grain-Free, Low-Sugar Granola That's Good For Your Gut {and How To Activate Nuts}

No, this isn't just another granola recipe. It has no oats, no grains, no sugar-bombed dried fruit, no processed sugar. What it does have, though, is activated nuts: nuts that go easy on that gut. 

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I wrote this post for fellow Boston-loving, paleo-eating yogi Nancy over at Approaching Paleo. Check out her amazing blog and beautiful Instagram for lots of Paleo recipes and healthy tips, especially for us college students! She's an inspiration and I'm so happy to have been able to contribute to her blog! 

Since you know I'm all about that grain-free life, you should also know I love adapting "grain-foods" into grain-free foods. You've seen flourless pancakes, zucchini noodles, now granola. Something about a good granola is just so satisfying to me. Like when you get a big chunk rather than the small crumbs, its just a big YES. Huge fan of the chunky granola, huge fan. 

So for a while I'd just buy paleo granola at Whole Foods. My favorite brand would be Paleonola -- it's actually the only one I've really tried and bought consistently. It's sooooo tasty and there's a variety of flavors, without weird ingredients. It's just a good bag of chunky nuts and things. However, at $9 a bag, and a biiiiit more sugar (honey + maple syrup) than I'd like, I can't consistently buy it.  So I decided to make my own. I'm not saying this recipe is drastically cheaper, because in reality, nuts are just expensive and oats are insanely cheap. So no matter what, a grain free, oat free granola is going to be a bit more of a financial risk than regular granolas. But, it will contain a lot less sugar, processed additives, and gut-irritating ingredients. This granola isn't overly sweet, with just some dates and a touch of honey, and is completely versatile to incorporate whatever flavor profiles you wish to experiment with. I've kept it simple, but will definitely be playing with some more flavor variations in the future. 

So I've whipped up for you a super simple, versatile granola recipe that will save you hours reading labels at WF trying to find the best granola. You're in charge of what you put in this one! I kept this version super simple as a base for many different flavor combinations to come.

Wanna know something else about this granola? It's made with activated nuts. Yup, not just raw nuts, but soaked and dehydrated nuts. Activating them helps to increase the digestibility of the nut by removing the gut irritants and enzyme inhibitors. This makes the nuts so much healthier and better for that digestive tract if you're like me trying to heal some leaky gut issues. More on the activation process to come! 

Here's how you make it:

To Activate Nuts:

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This is a fairly simple process, but will take a chunk of your time. Plan to activate your nuts the day before you plan to make the granola.

What You Need:

1 cup each of any nuts you'd like to be in your granola. I used almonds, walnuts and cashews.

What You Do:

  1. Put all your nuts into a bowl and cover completely with water
  2. Let the nuts sit in the water for the specific time* for each nuts. {use this chart for soaking times}
  3. After the nuts have soaked, dispose of the water and dry off the nuts with paper towel 
  4. Heat oven to the lowest heat (50C/120F). Evenly distribute nuts on baking sheet and place in oven for specified dehydrating time** {see chart again}. If you have a dehydrator, use that! Times will be different than oven dehydrating.

*I soaked my cashews, almonds and walnuts all for about 6 hours (would recommend cashews for less time to avoid sliminess). 

**I ended up dehydrating mine for about 6 hours, although I definitely would have gone longer if I had been patient enough! 

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Now for the Granola:

What You Need:

  1. 3 cups of raw {activated!} nuts: I used almonds, cashews and walnuts but use whatever you like
  2. 1 cup seeds {I used pumpkin seeds}
  3. 1 cup shredded, unsweetened coconut 
  4. 1/4 cup chia seeds
  5. 10 dates, pitted and chopped. 
  6. 2 Tbsp unrefined, cold-pressed organic coconut oil, melted.  
  7. 1 egg white + 2 Tbsp. water 
  8. 1 Tbsp. honey {more if you like a sweet granola}
  9. 1 Tbsp. cinnamon
  10. 1 tsp. ginger, turmeric 
  11. 1 tsp. vanilla extract 

What You Do:

  1. After you've activated your nuts, place them in a large mixing bowl. Add the seeds, dates and the coconut shreds. I like to crush the nuts slightly to get some smaller pieces as well as whole, but not all of it needs to be. 
  2. Preheat oven to 180C/350F and line a baking sheet with parchment paper. 
  3. In a small bowl, beat the egg white with the water until foamy. 
  4. Add the coconut oil, honey, spices and vanilla to the egg white and continue to beat until incorporated. 
  5. Add the wet ingredients to the nuts and mix thoroughly with a wooden spoon until the nuts are completely coated. 
  6. Pour the mixture onto the baking sheet and spread evenly with the spoon.
  7. Bake for 25 minutes, or until the granola is golden brown. Shake the pan every 10 minutes so that all of the pieces get browned. 
  8. Take out from the oven and let the granola cool for 15 minutes so that it crisps up and the chunks stay intact. 
  9. Enjoy warm or store in an airtight container for up to a week! 

One of my favorite parts of this recipe is the use of the egg white and water.  It binds together the chunks of nuts and seeds so that when it's baking we get those big clusters I just love. Definitely a key ingredient! 

I love having my granola (if not just by the spoonful) on top of some coconut yogurt, chia-seed pudding, or just with some almond milk and berries. But I definitely, definitely just love it by the spoonful. It's not too sweet, so you don't feel like your OD-ing on the sugar. The dates add the perfect amount of sweetness & chewiness. Its toasty, crunchy, earthy and nutty. 

Probably ate all that in one day. 

Probably ate all that in one day. 

Feel free to add whatever spices, nuts, fruit (if you do, make sure NO sugar is added)

Do you prefer homemade or convenient, store bought granola?

 If you adapt any of the flavors or add any yummy ingredients to it, let me know! 

Xo, Amylou

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