My nutty grain-free granola is not your traditional recipe – there are no oats included. This grain-free version is a mixture of nuts and seeds coated in egg whites, spices, and natural sweeteners.
Store-bought granola can be hard on your digestive system, not to mention many of them contain too much sweeteners and are usually made with vegetable oils (read why other fats are healthier).
About Nutty Granola
Grains and nuts need proper preparation to break down enzyme inhibitors that make them hard to digest. Oats and nuts are high in phytic acid, and the phytase enzymes that help break it down is not abundant in our digestive systems. Phytic acid also binds with minerals like calcium, magnesium, iron, and zinc, which can lead to mineral deficiencies in high phytate diets (too much grains and high fiber foods that are not properly prepared).
I soak all my nuts in salted water overnight and dehydrate them in the oven or dehydrator. The soaking process activates phytase enzymes and reduces the nut’s phytic acid – making them.
I chose to use egg whites in my recipe since I always have so much excess egg whites waiting in my fridge to be used (from homemade ice cream, homemade mayonnaise, or smoothies). But coconut oil and butter are good options as well. Many oven-roasted nuts recipes use egg whites as a coating but you can make an egg-free version with extra butter or coconut oil.
Homemade Nutty Granola Recipe
Once you have the basic ratio of 1 egg white per 2 cups of nuts/seeds, endless variations are possible. For an egg-free version, omit the egg whites and add more butter or coconut oil.
- 8 cups mixed nuts, preferably soaked and dehydrated
- 4 large egg whites (1/2 cup)
- 4 tablespoons maple syrup (1/4 cup) or to taste
- 2 tablespoons vanilla extract
- 4 teaspoons cinnamon
- 1 teaspoon ginger
- 1 teaspoon allspice
- 2-4 tablespoons coconut oil or butter
Optional add-ins; dried fruits (raisins, cranberries, apricots, goji berries), crystallized ginger, and coconut flakes.
How to make: step by step:
1. Beat or whisk egg whites with the maple syrup, vanilla extract, and spices in a large bowl until combined.
2. Chop up nuts to the desired size – a food processor makes this easy – and mix them into the egg mixture.
3. Butter or oil the insert of a slow cooker and pour in the nut mixture.
4. Turn on the slow cooker to high and cook granola, stirring every 15-20 minutes, until the coating dries (about 2-3 hours).
5. Allow cooling before storing in an airtight container. Any dried fruit or additional mix-ins can be added after it cools.
Note: I prefer making granola with a slow cooker when I’m already home and in and out of the kitchen to stir it. To prepare in the oven, pour the mixture into a greased baking pan and bake at 300 degrees for 30 minutes, or until granola is dry, occasionally stirring to brown evenly.
The best way to start your day is with a bowl of granola! It provides protein and important micronutrients like iron, vitamin D and folate. The different types will give you what kind of energy works for whatever task.
Jen Lin-Liu is the founder of Black Sesame Kitchen. A Chinese-American writer and a nationally certified Chinese chef in Beijing. Jen is the author of two memoirs, Serve the People: A Stir-Fried Journey Through China and On the Noodle Road: From Beijing to Rome with Love and Pasta.