Disclosure: This post is part of the Spenda 365 Sweet Swaps blogger program by McNeill Nutritionals, LLC and The Motherhood, who sent me products and compensated me for my time. Affiliate links are used. Opinions, experiences and photos shared here are my own, and I hope you enjoy them.

diet-friendly-granola-homemade

Boxed cereal is so expensive…and so sugary! I found my family eating box after box of the stuff each week, thinking it was a healthy start to our days, when really it was just pricey parcels of processed wheat, sugar, corn syrup and preservatives. To more healthfully satisfy my family’s obsession with cereal, I started making big batches of granola. The resulting winner of a recipe is a modification and combination of several ones I have loved from Nigella Lawson’s Feast: Food to Celebrate Life and Gwyneth Paltrow My Father’s Daughter cookbooks, and also incorporates a version of the flaxseed granola recipe outlined in the The Plan by Lyn-Genet Recitas.

The beauty of this yummy gluten-free granola is that you can take out whatever you do not like or do not happen to have on hand. If you are not a fan of a seed or nut in the recipe, just leave it out or substitute another. Customize to your taste; it is pretty impossible to mess this up. You can modify the “sticky stuff” – honey, golden syrup, agave syrup, maple, applesauce – to whatever you happen to have in the cupboard. Swapping out the brown sugar for the Splenda Brown Sugar Blend will lower the calorie count but still give you the sweetness, browning and texture of traditional molasses-flavored brown sugar.

Ultimate Granola 

1 cup whole flaxseeds
6 Tbsp chia seeds
Cinnamon (optional ground nutmeg & ground cloves, if you like)
1 tsp. vanilla extract
4 1/2 cups whole rolled oats (not steel-cut and not quick cook)
1 cup sunflower seeds
1 cup pumpkin seeds
1/2 cup sesame seeds
2 cups natural/raw whole or sliced almonds (whichever texture you prefer)
2 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp ground ginger
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 cup Splenda Brown Sugar Blend
1/4 cup honey or golden syrup
1 cup applesauce
1/3 cup light agave nectar or real maple syrup
2 Tbsp vegetable or sunflower oil
2 cups raisins, dried cranberries or dried cherries (or a mixture) – these will be added after baking

Night before: Soak the flaxseeds and chia seeds in 1/2 cup of water seasoned with a couple shakes of cinnamon (and one shake of other spices if using) and vanilla. Store in covered container in fridge overnight or for 8 hours. According to The Plan, the soaking releases the gel-like substance in the flaxseeds that makes for a cleansing affect in our digestive systems. Fun!

Preheat oven to 325.

Stir together oats, seeds (including the flaxseed/chia seed mixture — all water will have been absorbed by the seeds), nuts, spices and brown sugar in your biggest mixing bowl.

Combine in another smaller bowl the honey, syrup and oil and then mix in with the other ingredients. Coat evenly.

Spread the mixture out on two ungreased big baking sheets (the kind that come with ovens) or the bottom of a broiler pan and bake for 40 minutes, turning the mixture about half-way through to redistribute and bake evenly.

Once baked, allow to cool, mix together with raisins, dried cranberries, dried cherries — whatever you like. Store in airtight container. Keeps well for 1 month.

Yield: About 10 cups.

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