No added sugar, Paleo, & Whole30 friendly!
I’m so stoked to share my latest recipe with you, this delicious Cinnamon Crunch Grain-Free Granola. It pairs perfectly with fresh apples and cold coconut or almond milk, or even some chia pudding. I recommend baking up a big batch on Sunday afternoon so you have a quick and healthy breakfast all week long!
You’ll love how energized and satisfied you feel after this healthy, nourishing bowl of goodness.
Did you know most granola is actually not that good for you? Like, even pretty bad for you? This can be surprising for some people, as very clever marketing campaigns from “Big Food” are designed to make consumers think they’re healthy.
So what’s the problem? Many of them are loaded with sugar, and often more than one kind! Not to mention weird preservatives and artificial flavors. The good news is that you don’t need any of that to make a truly tasty granola.
My Cinnamon Crunch Grain-Free Granola contains zero added sugar but still has tons of flavor, thanks to toasted nuts, seeds, coconut, and lots of cinnamon. I use applesauce as part of the base to add a little natural sweetness and help create those glorious granola clusters we all love so much.
Why no grains? Well, like other people, I don’t feel that great when I eat grains often. I definitely don’t abstain from them 100% of the time, but I find that limiting my intake of grains keeps my digestion and blood sugar happy.
There are legitimate reasons to notice these benefits from avoiding grains. One of them is the presence of lectins, which are sticky proteins in grains that are there as part of the plant’s natural defense system. The problem is that they’re indigestible by humans and may cause inflammation in the gut, reducing the ability of the GI tissue to repair itself and negatively affecting the absorption of nutrients from our food—for the latter reason, lectins are sometimes called “anti-nutrients.”
Lectins can also elicit an immune response as the body tries to eliminate them, which is especially bad for those, like myself, who have an autoimmune disease. Most people with gut issues also find avoiding lectins can be really helpful for reducing their symptoms.
Another reason reducing grain consumption can be helpful is that they tend to be high in quick-burning carbohydrates. The carbohydrates in some grains can break down into sugar rather fast, spiking blood sugar and insulin (especially when they’re not eaten with protein, fiber, or fat), which can lead to mood swings, cravings, weight gain, and many other problems. For those with sensitive blood sugar or insulin resistance, reducing grains can help to stabilize hormones, weight, and satiety cues.
Personally, I find that limiting my own grain intake helps me feel lighter, less hungry, and less bloated.
Enough about what this Cinnamon Crunch Grain-Free Granola doesn’t have, let’s focus on what it does have! Pecans, walnuts, sesame seeds, sunflowers seeds—all of these yummy ingredients are rich in vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, healthy anti-inflammatory fats, fiber, and plant-based protein.
This granola also has a nice dose of medium-chain triglycerides from coconut flakes, giving your body immediate energy to start the day.
And, I can’t go on without talking about cinnamon—my all-time favorite spice! I seriously use it every day because it tastes so good, but it also happens to have lots of health benefits. Cinnamon can help to control blood sugar, fight free radicals, lower LDL cholesterol, PLUS it’s naturally antibacterial and anti-inflammatory. It’s one of those amazing everyday household items that is secretly ultra healthy.
So, let’s dig in.
Start by preheating your oven to 325°F and line a baking sheet (you might need to use two if they’re small). You’ve probably heard me mention that I love Silpat silicon liners for my baking sheets—they’re reusable and really easy to clean.
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Then toss your walnuts, pecans, sunflower seeds, sesame seeds, and coconut flakes in a large bowl with the cinnamon and sea salt.
Now, mix your applesauce, almond butter, vanilla extract, and chia seeds in a small bowl. Melt your coconut oil and add it to the rest of the wet ingredients, stirring it all together really well. If you prefer a sweeter granola, you can totally add a little maple syrup or honey during this step. I’d try 2-3 tablespoons the first time around to avoid going overboard.
Take your wet mixture and drizzle it all over the bowl of nuts and seeds; use a large spoon to fold the wet and dry together until everything is thoroughly coated. Then, just spread your Cinnamon Crunch Grain-Free Granola evenly in a single layer over the baking sheet, making sure it’s not piled too high in any one area, but still all touching so you can get those beautiful golden clusters.
You’re ready to bake! Pop that pan in the oven for 10 minutes and wait for the amazing smell of toasted cinnamon to fill your house. After the first 10 minutes, rotate the pan but do NOT stir the granola, and pop it back in for another 13-15 minutes.
Once that timer dings, you’re ready to munch. Layer some fruit, coconut milk, and Cinnamon Crunch Grain-Free Granola in a big bowl and mow down!
Please leave me a comment and let me know what you think, or feel free to ask a question. Thanks for following along and have an awesome week.
This toasty granola is full of healthy nuts, seeds, and coconut, and it’s sweetened only with applesauce! It’s got lots of warming cinnamon and a touch of sea salt; amazing with fresh fruit and coconut milk.
- 2 cups chopped walnuts
- 2 cups chopped pecans
- 1/2 cup sunflower seeds
- 1/4 cup + 2 tablespoons sesame seeds
- 1 cup coconut flakes
- 1 tablespoon cinnamon
- 1 teaspoon sea salt
- 2/3 cup unsweetened applesauce
- 2 tablespoons almond butter
- 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract*
- 2 tablespoons chia seeds
- 1/2 cup coconut oil
- Preheat oven to 325 degrees F. Line one large (or two small) baking sheets and set aside.
- Mix walnuts, pecans, sunflower seeds, sesame seeds, coconut flakes, cinnamon, and sea salt in a large bowl.
- In a smaller bowl, mix together applesauce, almond butter, vanilla extract, and chia seeds.* Pour in coconut oil and mix well, then pour the wet mixture all over the bowl of nuts and seeds and fold in until dry ingredients are evenly coated.
- Spread granola evenly over baking sheet in a single layer, it should all be touching, like spreading out one large rectangular pancake (you’ll break it apart later).
- Bake for 10 minutes, then rotate tray, but do NOT stir the granola. Bake for another 13-15 minutes until golden brown. Remove tray from the oven and allow to cool for 10 minutes, then break granola apart into clusters and enjoy!
*Vanilla extract is not technically Whole30 compliant, eliminate if you’re concerned about strictly adhering to that program.
*If you prefer a sweeter granola, add 2-3 tablespoons of honey or maple syrup at Step 3. This will not be Whole30 compliant.
- Serving Size: 1/2 cup
- Calories: 286
- Sugar: 2g
- Fat: 28g
- Carbohydrates: 6g
- Protein: 5g