How to Make Heart-Healthy Granola

By LeafTV Contributor

One of the indications of a clean, heart-healthy ingredient is if it contains essential healthy fats high in omega-3 and 6. We can incorporate a tremendous amount of this in our morning breakfast with ingredients like nuts, good oils and seeds. The perfect way to merry all of these ingredients together first thing in the morning is of course... GRANOLA! Make it yourself to control the sugar content, and any other restriction your diet might need (gluten, peanuts, etc.).

This simple recipe is perfect for those who follow a gluten-free diet, looking to add plant-based protein to their diet, and those looking to boost their intake of unsaturated fat.

jar of homemade granola

Ingredients:

  • 1 tablespoon ground flax seed
  • 3 tablespoons water
  • 1/2 cup olive oil, avocado oil, or grapeseed oil
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1/2 teaspoon almond extract
  • 1/3 cup pure maple syrup
  • 3 cups gluten-free rolled oats (see note)*
  • 1/2 cup raw walnuts
  • 1/2 cup raw almonds
  • 1/2 cup pumpkin seeds
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened shredded coconut
  • 1 cup dried cranberries
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon sea salt

*You can use regular rolled oats as long as you don't need to restrict gluten from your diet. Avoid using quick oats.

Make a Flax "Egg"

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees Fahrenheit. Prepare a flax "egg" (i.e. egg replacer) by combining the ground flax seed and water in a small bowl. Allow the mixture to sit, stirring occasionally, until it thickens to the consistency of an egg.

Gather the Dry Ingredients

Measure out the oats, nuts, and seeds.

Place the almonds and walnuts in a food processor or blender and pulse a few times, just until the nuts are coarsely chopped. As an alternative, you can carefully chop the nuts using a sharp knife.

Add the chopped nuts, oats, pumpkin seeds, shredded coconut, ground cinnamon, sea salt, and pumpkin seeds (all the dry ingredients) to a large mixing bowl and stir well.

Pour in the Wet Ingredients

Whisk together the oil, pure maple syrup, vanilla and almond extract. Pour this mixture into the bowl with the oats and nuts, along with the flax seed "egg." Stir well until everything is well coated.

Transfer to a Baking Sheet

Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper, and pour the granola mixture onto the lined baking sheet. Use your hands to press the granola mixture into the sheet, creating an even layer.

Bake the Granola

Place the sheet of granola on the center rack of the preheated oven and bake for 35 to 45 minutes, or until the edges are golden-brown. Remove the granola from the oven and allow it to sit for one hour - this allows the granola to set up and makes for large granola clusters.

Transfer the cooled granola to a large zip lock bag or jar for storing. Store granola for up to 10 days. Enjoy with fruit, yogurt, and/or choice of milk.

Notes:

  1. The raw walnuts and almonds can be replaced with virtually any nut. Consider using cashews, pecans, or pistachios.
  2. If using honey instead of pure maple syrup, be sure to watch the granola carefully while it's baking, as honey has a lower burn temperature than pure maple syrup. Check on the granola after 25 minutes, and keep a close eye every couple of minutes.
  3. You can also use rice syrup, coconut sugar, or agave nectar as the sweetener for this recipe.
  4. The dried cranberries can be omitted or replaced with any dried fruit, such as blueberries, raisins, strawberries, etc. Just be sure to avoid using sugar-sweetened dried fruit -- instead use juice-sweetened dried fruit.
  5. Pumpkin seeds can be replaced with raw sunflower seeds or omitted entirely.
  6. You can replace the flax "egg" with one egg white. If you choose to go this route, beat the egg white until very frothy. You'll need to store the granola in the refrigerator in order to avoid spoilage.