| Homemade Seedy Granola
by Stacey Tress
I love making this granola. I go through phases where I’m inspired to make things from scratch, and this recipe never disappoints. It can handle a lot of variations and is forgiving with the amounts being added, which is one reason I love to make it. Reason two for making it is because I just love the smell. Cinnamon and clove mixed with the nuts and seeds really fills the house! Reason three is because my whole family loves it and it feels good to make good wholesome foods they enjoy.
I’m going to start this article by giving the recipe and then go into some of the associated health benefits of the ingredients.
Seedy Granola Recipe
(makes about 2 quarts) All ingredients are organic.
1 cup steel cut oats
3 cups (or less) old fashioned oats (years ago I only used 1/2 cup oats and have become fond of having more oats in the recipe… again just shows how versatile this recipe is)
1 cup pumpkin seeds
1 cup sunflower seeds
1 cup hemp seeds
1/4 cup or so wheat germ
1/4 cup sesame seeds
1/4 cup chia seed
1/4 cup to 1/2 cup honey
1/2 cup olive oil (or coconut oil)
1/4 cup maple syrup
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 generous teaspoon cinnamon, 1/2 tsp nutmeg, and 1/2 tsp all spice
(or ground clove)
Preheat oven to 300ºF. Grab a bowl and toss everything into it. Mix well. Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper and dump contents onto it and kind of smooth it out. Bake at 300ºF (middle rack of oven) for 50 minutes. I like to flip and stir it up at least three times during the baking. Let cool before transferring to mason jars or Tupperware. Keep what you’ll eat for a week on the counter and freeze the rest.
Additions—you can top your granola the last 10 minutes or so with shredded coconut. I like to sprinkle dehydrated cherries on the finished product and then just mix in. You can basically use any nut/seed you happen to have on hand, making each batch a different experience. Chopped almonds or slivered almonds are nice in it, too.
What to do with it?
Having homemade granola on hand is a great way to get fibre, healthy fats, and power-packed nutrition into your diet. We eat it almost every morning sprinkled over oatmeal with milk kefir. Mmmm! Just thinking of that is making me excited for tomorrow’s breakfast!
I’m notorious for not using a measuring cup for the wet ingredients so sometimes I add in too much oil and end up with a very chunky seedy granola—meaning you’ve got to break it up into pieces and then I use my spatula in the jar to crush it up. When it’s like that, we enjoy eating the chunks for snacks. (A granola bar recipe is very similar to this recipe but with more oil added and it’s pressed into a dish to keep form.)
This granola is great mixed into yogurt, too—topped with berries! Delish. My husband loves to take it to work to add to his yogurt. Speaking of yogurt, I recently got a Villi starter (yogurt culture) and have been making my own! More on that another time. I love gifting homemade granola—presented in a mason jar with a bit of twine around the lid makes a lovely gift.
Fibre is your friend! Almost every conversation I have these days has some mention of bowel movements (I’d prefer to say poop but I’ll try and sound adult here). There’s soluble fibre and insoluble fibre.
Soluble fibre is the soft fibre that helps control blood glucose (sugar) and reduces cholesterol. It also helps in managing diarrhea. Soluble fibre is present in oat bran, ground flax, oatmeal, legumes (dried beans and lentils), and fruits such as apples and strawberries.
Insoluble fibre is the bulky fibre that helps to prevent constipation. It also helps to prevent some types of cancers. It is present in wheat bran, whole grain breads and cereals, fruits, seeds, and vegetables. Many foods contain both soluble and insoluble fibre.
Fibre is important for your overall health. Some of its benefits include: Controlling blood glucose (sugar), managing blood pressure, reducing blood cholesterol, increasing the feeling of being full, controlling weight, and regulating bowel movement.
For adults, the Canadian Diabetes Association recommends 25 to 50 grams of fibre every day. Children between the ages of 3 and 18 need a gradual increase of fibre in their diets, usually calculated by using the child’s age and adding five grams. People of all ages should eat a variety of foods to obtain a mixture of both soluble and insoluble fibre.
They control cell damage, thus playing a role in preventing cancer. This is because sunflower seeds are a good source of selenium, which is a proven enemy of cancer. They contain bone-healthy minerals. Besides calcium, your bones need magnesium and copper to stay strong. Sunflower seeds contain both.
As a bonus, they also contain vitamin E, which helps ease arthritic pain. Sunflower seeds keep you calm. Yes! The magnesium in sunflower seeds is reputed for soothing the nerves, thus easing away stress, migraines, and helping you relax. They bring a glow to your skin. The star in this role: vitamin E again, which combats UV rays and keeps skin youthful.
They ease every condition that’s inflammatory in nature, such as joint pain, gastric ulcers, skin eruptions, asthma, and such. That’s because sunflower seeds are loaded with antioxidants. Just 1/4 cup of sunflower seeds a day can keep heart troubles away. These small seeds disallow “bad” cholesterol from sticking to the walls of your arteries, thus preventing heart attacks.
Despite their small size, chia seeds are packed full of important nutrients. They are an excellent source of omega-3 fatty acids, which help to raise HDL cholesterol (the good cholesterol that helps protect against heart attack and stroke).
Chia seeds are also rich in antioxidants and full of fibre, magnesium, zinc, iron, and calcium. Remember the chia pets that were a popular item in the 1990s? Yep—these are the same seeds I am talking about! According to the USDA National Nutrient Database, one ounce of chia seeds (approximately 28 grams) contains 138 calories, 8 grams of fat, 12 grams of carbohydrate, 10 grams of fibre, and 5 grams of protein.
Eating one ounce of chia seeds per day would provide 18% of daily calcium needs, 27% of phosphorus, 30% of manganese, and smaller amounts of potassium, zinc, and copper.
When compared to flaxseeds, chia seeds provide more omega-3s, calcium, phosphorus, and fibre—all essential nutrients of which most people are not getting enough.
Oatmeal and oat bran are significant sources of dietary fibre. This fibre contains a mixture of about half soluble and half insoluble fibres.
One component of the soluble fibre found in oats is beta-glucans, a soluble fibre that has proven effective in lowering blood cholesterol. Here’s how it works. Soluble fibre breaks down as it passes through the digestive tract, forming a gel that traps some substances related to cholesterol, such as cholesterol-rich bile acids. This entrapment reduces the absorption of cholesterol into the bloodstream. The bad cholesterol, LDL, is trapped without lowering good cholesterol (HDL).
Oats and grains are also one of the best sources of compounds called tocotrienols. These are antioxidants that together with tocopherols form vitamin E. The tocotrienols inhibit cholesterol synthesis and have been found to lower blood cholesterol. The accumulation of cholesterol is implicated in many types of cardiovascular disease.
Oats, like all cholesterol-lowering agents, are most effective when consumed as part of a low-fat, high-fibre diet taken together with plenty of exercise. The beneficial health effects of oats are best if 1/2 to 1 cup (1.5 to 3 ounces) of oats are eaten every day.
Hemp seeds are a great addition to anyone’s diet, but particularly vegan and vegetarian diets, as they’re packed with easily digestible proteins and contain all 10 essential amino acids, putting them among the rare plant-based foods that provide complete protein. These seeds are abundant in omega-3 fatty acids, as well as a specific omega-6 fatty acid (GLA) not found in any other food; hemp oil contains even more GLA.
Hemp seeds are high in fibre and are rich in minerals including magnesium, iron, zinc, and potassium. Hemp seeds are very rarely allergens, unlike many other nuts and seeds. And unlike flaxseeds, you need not grind them to reap their benefits. While chia and flaxseeds have the edge in terms of soluble fibre, hemp is higher than the other two seeds in protein. Hemp seeds aren’t as rich in omega-3 fatty acids as chia or flax, but much higher in omega-6s, which is not necessarily a benefit, as the Western diet is already overabundant in the latter.
Storage of Nuts and Seeds
Length of storage for your nuts and seeds depends on temperature and humidity. We buy all our nuts and seeds from Upaya Naturals—www.upayanaturals.com (Canada’s Raw Vegan Health Store). We prefer to keep our nuts and seeds in the freezer and only keep nuts and seeds on the counter for quick use.
Nuts and seeds are high in fats (oil) and like any oil subject to warm temperatures and light, will turn rancid. This is how a good fat (healthy) can turn into a bad fat. Eating foods that are rancid is not desirable. Best to keep your nuts and seeds in the freezer and be sure to consume them within one year.
Recipe—Seedy Granola, Stacey Tress, Garden Therapy Yorkton
Stacey Tress, a Holistic Nutritional Therapist (HNT), lives in Yorkton, Saskatchewan, with her husband and two daughters. She is the owner of Garden Therapy Yorkton which offers fermenting workshops, design work, organically grown produce, and more! To learn more, please contact her at 306-641-4239, email: firstname.lastname@example.org, www.gardentherapyyorkton.ca, or on facebook “Garden Therapy Yorkton.” Also, see the display ad on page 9 of the 21.5 January/February issue of the WHOLifE Journal.