Love granola? This one is grain free, lightly sweetened, and delicious. And it comes with a little bit of a story about my personal diet journey.
Some months back, I met my old roommates for brunch. The three of us gathered around an enormous round table where I leaned in eagerly to listen and talk.
We’ve been having these get-togethers sporadically over the last few years, one month a dinner at a new Lebanese place, another month a brunch at the fancy historic building in Rutledge Hill.
Between our work schedules and our social schedules and all kinds of random trips out of town, finding a day and time that works for the three of us to meet up always requires a dozen or so emails back and forth to plan.
Whenever we finally manage to set a date and sit down to eat, a good chunk of time has passed since our last meeting. There’s a lot of surface life stuff to work through (i.e., Who’s moving? Who’s starting a new job? Are the allergies better? How’s your injury?) before we get into talking about what’s really going on in our hearts, the things that are on our minds a lot, what we’re struggling with and why.
Our waitress came around probably three times to see if we were ready to order before we were able to focus long enough to pick an omelet and two orders of quiche, all immediately following some pistachio-cherry sticky buns Sara and Sarah were going to split.
“Aw, but you didn’t have any of the sticky buns!” the server said to me when she was collecting our appetizer plates before bringing our meals to the table. (This was after she’d described the buns to us as “life-changing” and after the Sara(h)s had all but polished them off.
“So, are you gluten-free?”
As anyone who has done a cleanse or gone on a special diet, been diagnosed with a condition that requires certain dietary restrictions, or who has allergies or sensitivities would tell you, explaining to a good friend that you’re eating a slightly different diet is hard enough, but explaining it to a stranger is ridiculous.
There’s no time, in a brief, one- to two-sentence answer, to provide context or explanation. So you’re left to condense health concerns, goals, and problems into a quick 10-second sound bite that you can only hope will make some sort of sense.
“No, just a short cleanse,” I responded, waving my hands dismissively.
“That is so great! Good for you!” Our sweet, energetic server was so congratulatory in response. “It takes so much discipline! I could never do something like that.”
It wasn’t until I was driving home that I realized I could have given the past month of grain-free eating a bit more credit, rather than deflecting it with a laugh for our waitress.
With any “restricted” eating plan, I’ve found that taking something specific out of your diet is never as hard when you consider all the things you have left. Things like vegetables, fruit, and meat, dairy, nuts, and seeds.
And, hey! This delicious granola is grain-free too, adapted from a version my friend Jen got from a friend who got it from someone else.
Keeping with this tradition, I strongly encourage you to pass it along.
I’ve made it twice this month, marveling each time at the way such simple ingredients can make something so good – with crispy clusters that are sweet and perfect for snacking, as tasty in milk as they are eaten by the fistful in the car.
You don’t have to be grain-free to enjoy this cinnamon-scented granola. And nearly every ingredient that’s featured is a nutrition powerhouse. It’s made with:
Particularly high in protein, these nuts are also an excellent source of vitamin E, magnesium, phosphorus, and manganese.
My favorite spice, cinnamon offers numerous potential health benefits thanks to its high levels of disease-fighting antioxidants.
While we don’t always think about unsweetened shredded coconut as being rich in vitamins and minerals, it’s actually an excellent source of manganese, a mineral that’s important for fat metabolism, and copper, which plays an important role in bone and heart health.
More than just an ingredient for making pecan pie, pecans are very low in carbohydrates and high in fiber. They also contain a good amount of healthy fats, thiamine, phosphorus, zinc, and magnesium.
Also called pepitas, these are an excellent source of phosphorus, manganese, magnesium, and iron – all of which are essential minerals that our bodies can’t make on their own. You can use raw, but you can also add homemade toasted pumpkin seeds.
Similar to molasses, sorghum syrup contains many vitamins and minerals, including manganese, vitamin B6, magnesium, and potassium.
While they contain a variety of nutrients, these seeds are particularly high in vitamin E and selenium. Both are antioxidants that help to protect our cells from free radicals and reduce the risk of chronic disease.
Coconut oil is also on the ingredient list. While there are some proposed potential health benefits of coconut oil, the research overall is pretty mixed, since coconut oil is also high in saturated fat.
However, it works well in this recipe as it has a high smoke point and is less likely to burn than butter, and it provides a slightly sweet, richer flavor than canola oil would.
If you’re not a fan of coconut oil, feel free to use canola oil instead.
Finally, pure vanilla extract adds a sweet flavor that’s all you need in combination with the other ingredients – no refined sugar required.
With six cups total of the main ingredients, plus a little vanilla and cinnamon, in under an hour you’ll have a delicious topping for yogurt or a tasty snack that’s nutrient-packed and made from scratch.
No restaurant required.
Let’s dig in!Print
You don’t have to be on a grain-free diet to enjoy this granola. Rich in nutrients, it’s sweetened with sorghum and makes for a perfect breakfast or snack.
- 1 cup raw pumpkin seeds
- 1 cup pecans
- 1 cup slivered almonds
- 1 cup shredded unsweetened coconut
- 1 cup unsalted sunflower seeds
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
- 1/2 cup coconut oil, softened or melted (or canola oil)
- 1/2 cup sorghum syrup (or honey or maple syrup)
- Preheat oven to 350°F and cover a half-sheet rimmed baking pan with parchment paper.
- Add pumpkin seeds, pecans, almonds, coconut, and sunflower seeds to a food processor. Pulse 2-3 times, or until ingredients are roughly chopped and combined.
- Transfer mixture to a large mixing bowl. Add vanilla, cinnamon, coconut oil, and sorghum syrup. Stir well to combine.
- Spread mixture onto prepared baking sheet in an even layer.
- Bake for 20-30 minutes, until golden and firm, using a spatula to toss the mixture halfway through baking.
- Remove from oven and allow to cool in the pan for 10 minutes before breaking into pieces.
- Prep Time: 15 minutes
- Cook Time: 20-30 minutes
- Category: Granola
- Method: Baking
- Cuisine: Breakfast
Keywords: grain-free, granola, sorghum syrup
Cooking By the Numbers…
Step 1 – Preheat Oven, Measure Ingredients, and Soften Coconut Oil
Measure out all of your ingredients.
If your coconut oil is solid at room temperature, soften it in the microwave for about 20 seconds. You want the oil to be soft enough to combine with the other ingredients, but it doesn’t have to be fully melted.
If you don’t want to use coconut oil, canola oil can be used instead.
Step 2 – Pulse Nuts, Seeds, and Coconut in Food Processor
Place the pumpkin seeds, pecans, almonds, coconut, and sunflower seeds in a food processor.
Pulse a few times until the ingredients are roughly chopped and mixed together.
Step 3 – Combine with Remaining Ingredients
Pour the mixture into a large mixing bowl and add the vanilla, cinnamon, coconut oil, and sorghum syrup. Stir well to combine.
Step 4 – Spread Mixture onto Sheet Pan and Bake
Spread the mixture onto your prepared baking sheet in an even layer, all the way to the corners.
Place the pan in the oven and bake for 20-30 minutes, until golden and firm. Use a spatula to toss the mixture halfway through baking, for even cooking.
Make sure to pay attention to the smell that’s coming from your oven while it bakes, as granola can burn quickly.
As soon as your kitchen is filled with a strong cinnamon aroma, check on it. This is usually a sign that it’s golden brown and ready to be taken out of the oven.
Step 5 – Cool and Store
I like large clumps in my granola, so I allow it to cool in the pan for 10 minutes before breaking it up.
Store in an airtight container in a cool, dry place for up to six months.
Never Buy Store-Bought Granola Again
While store-bought granola can seem so convenient, many brands are chock-full of added sugars and sodium. Making it at home instead gives you full control over how sweet, salty, and fatty your mixture is.
Making your own at home is also an excellent way to use up any extra nuts, seeds, and dried fruit that you have in the pantry. And if you’re on a grain-free diet, this is the perfect option.
Let us know what you think of this grain-free recipe by leaving a comment, and don’t forget to give the recipe a five-star rating if you loved it!
Looking for even more homemade granola recipes? Check out these flavor-filled Foodal favorites next:
Photos by Kelli McGrane, © Ask the Experts, LLC. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. See our TOS for more details. Originally published on May 25, 2014. Last updated on July 8, 2020. With additional writing and editing by Kelli McGrane and Allison Sidhu.
Nutritional information derived from a database of known generic and branded foods and ingredients and was not compiled by a registered dietitian or submitted for lab testing. It should be viewed as an approximation.
The written contents of this article have been reviewed and verified by a registered dietitian for informational purposes only. This article should not be construed as personalized or professional medical advice. Foodal and Ask the Experts, LLC assume no liability for the use or misuse of the material presented above. Always consult with a medical professional before changing your diet, or using supplements or manufactured or natural medications.
About Shanna Mallon
Shanna Mallon is a freelance writer who holds an MA in writing from DePaul University. Her work has been featured in a variety of media outlets, including The Kitchn, Better Homes & Gardens, Taste of Home, Houzz.com, Foodista, Entrepreneur, and Ragan PR. In 2014, she co-authored The Einkorn Cookbook with her husband, Tim. Today, you can find her digging into food topics and celebrating the everyday grace of eating on her blog, Go Eat Your Bread with Joy. Shanna lives in Nashville, Tennessee, with Tim and their two small kids.