Taking a break from the sports philosophy for a minute to indulge you with another passion of mine…food.
Clarification – exceptionally tasty, incredibly healthy, nutrient-dense food.
I love taking recipes and tweaking them to get maximum nutritional value without sacrificing flavor. It’s actually a lot easier than most people think and I’m hear to share with you my latest favorite recipe concoction –
Pumpkin Spice Granola
First things first, this granola is in a league of its own in comparison to even the store-bought brands, which despite their attempts to be wholesome and health-conscious, are actually loaded with sugar, which can sabotage your diet.
I’ll be honest, until recently I never tried making my own granola – once I tried it, though, I was hooked. I’ll never buy store-bought granola again. Not only is it cheaper and contains substantially less sugar, you can alter the ingredients to suit your own personal tastes and preferences. And it’s super easy to make.
I wanted a granola low in sugar, with clean whole grains, nuts and seeds, nutrient dense and protein packed. I also absolutely love the rich “spiciness” of cinnamon, ginger and allspice, so this recipe has an extra kick.
Pumpkin Spice Granola – Ingredients
1 ½ cups organic buckwheat groats
2 cups organic rolled oats
1 ½ cups coconut flakes (unsweetened)
1 cup organic pumpkin seeds
1 cup organic walnuts
½ tsp sea salt
2 tbls organic cinnamon
2 tbls organic pumpkin spice (optional)
- Pre-heat your oven to 375 F and line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper.
- In a food processor, pulse the walnuts and pumpkin seeds just enough to make smaller chunks. Add to a large mixing bowl.
- Add the remaining dry ingredients to large mixing bowl and combine.
- In the same food processor, add all the wet ingredients, including the melted coconut oil. Blend until pureed. Add to the dry ingredients and stir until the mixture is moist throughout.
- Place ingredients on the parchment lined baking sheet, spreading evenly, pressing down with a spatula to firmly pack the granola.
- Bake the granola for approximately 20-25 minutes, depending on how crisp you like it. Remove from the oven and carefully flip sections of the granola, keeping it fairly whole. Return to the oven for another 5-8 minutes, remove and repeat the flipping. Continue this until your granola is dry and slightly crisp. In total, baking time is about 35-40 minutes.
- Remove from oven and let cool completely. Transfer to a mason jar and store in the fridge. Use within a month.
Besides tasting AMAZING, this granola is actually very good for you. Here’s a simple run-down on its various health benefits:
Buckwheat groats – a pseudo whole grain that is actually a fruit seed high in fiber and plant-protein, yet gluten-free. It also contains significant levels of calcium, magnesium, copper and phophorus, as well as manganese, which is a co-factor for an enzyme called manganese superoxide dismutase (MnSOD), which is a potent antioxidant associated with protection against free radical damage.
Oats – another low GI whole grain packed with fiber, protein and manganese. Along with vitamin B1, cooper, magnesium, zinc and many other nutrients, oats also boast unique antioxidant compounds called avenanthramides that, according to studies, help prevent free radicals from damaging LDL cholesterol, thus reducing the risk of cardiovascular disease.
Coconut oil and flakes – chocked full of a large spectrum of vitamins and minerals, fiber rich and cholesterol-free, it also contains medium-chain triglycerides (MCTs). Few foods nowadays contain MCTs, which are believed to have special healing properties and, in some studies, have shown to increase good cholesterol, while killing disease-causing bacteria, fungi, yeasts and viruses because of the antimicrobial effects of its fatty acids.
Walnuts – are loaded with potent antioxidants, making them excellent for combating free radicals. They are especially heart-healthy, containing vital anti-inflammatory plant-based omega-3 fat alpha-linolenic acid (ALA), along with amino acid l-argine, which offers multiple vascular benefits to people with heart disease.
Pumpkin seeds – a valuable source for the mineral zinc. These seeds also contain diverse forms of vitamin E, which, according to research, makes their bioavailability greater than some of the other vitamin E forms. They are also high in manganese and contain several other vital minerals and vitamins.
Cinnamon – a well-loved spice, used in a variety of baking and cooking, cinnamon is actually very effective at controlling blood sugar. Research suggests cinnamon may also significantly help people with type 2 diabetes by improving insulin response, therefore normalizing blood sugar. It is also anti-inflammatory and anti-microbial.
Bananas – a solid source of protein and full of all-natural sweetness that is perfect for sugar replacement in many baked goods recipes. This versatile fruit contains fiber, vitamin B6 and other valuable nutrients. A favorite among athletes for their unique mix of vitamins, minerals and low GI carbs, they are also considered a good source of fructooligosaccharides (FOS), which support good bacteria and digestive health.
Maple syrup – a healthier alternative to table sugar, maple syrup is lower in calories and contains a higher concentration of minerals than honey. Rich in manganese and zinc, both powerful antioxidants that help eliminate free radicals and contribute to healthier immune systems.
I hope you enjoy this recipe as much as I do. Credit goes to Sarah Britton, author of My New Roots, for inspiring my take on her delicious Chunky Banana Bread Granola. Happy Eats!