So listen. I have a problem.
I LOVE SUGAR CEREAL.
I don’t know if every ‘90s kid has this issue, but I could polish off an entire box of Cap’n Crunch with Crunch Berries in one night.
Or maybe Reeses Puffs.
Or French Toast Crunch.
Or Fruity Pebbles.
You see? It’s an issue.
Like most girls, especially a performance major and a dancer, I started becoming more aware of what I put into my body around the first year or two of college. I started to buy what I thought was healthy. Organic granola. Tropical muesli. Crunchy nut clusters. Unfortunately those “healthy” cereals are still chockfull of sugars, additives, and very little nutritional value. But I’m getting ahead of myself here….Rewind!
I quickly learned that, despite my mother’s warning, I could (and would) accidentally eat the whole box in a day….A tiny bowl here. A small cup there. A few bites directly from the box.
74 little handfuls later and POOF. Back to Wegemens I go.
Now that I’m older and I’ve dealt with constant travel, IBS, general digestion issues, as well as having to take care of my performer body, I try to stick with clean, whole foods. Currently I’ve cut out gluten to address a skin issue which in turn helps me avoid lots of other things I mindlessly munch on such as toast, crackers, “health” cookies, whatever.
It helps me focus on eating enough of the good stuff so I don’t feel the need to snack. Whether or not I am gluten intolerant or not, I’ll let my skin be the judge.
In our home I try to cook as many fresh vegetables, proteins, natural fats (hello avocado), and unprocessed starches. I like to stick to potatoes, pumpkin, and sometimes quinoa.
Recently I’ve added a box of oats (this box is certified gluten free…not always easy to find here in good old South Africa) because I was craving oatmeal. Wouter didn’t grow up with oatmeal, but it was a staple in our house. I had also made some Magic Bars for a holiday party so I had tons of unsweetened coconut flakes, and a variety of nuts.
Well here I am, dreaming of cereal, so today I decided to bake some up some of these oats with nuts and coconut added in. Gluten free, no added sugar granola, here I come.
In typical New Years fashion, we’re not eating processed sugar right now, and knowing that the crunchyness of granola often comes from the caramelization of the sugar, what was I to do?
I found a recipe that mentioned whipped egg whites mixed with the oat/nut concoction to help it bake up crunchy, not soggy.
Good enough for me!
This recipe is super easy, pretty low maintenance, and it passed my nutrition test as well as my fiancé’s tastebuds. You won’t find any added sugars in this feel good granola, but you will find some slower burning carbs, healthy fats, some protein and some very necessary-after-an-indulgent-holiday-season fiber.
Feel Good Granola
What you’ll Need:
2 cups Gluten Free Oats (Nature’s Choice and Health Connection are the ZA brands)
1/4 cup sliced Almonds
1/4 cup pecans
1/4 cup cashews
1/2 cup unsweetened coconut flakes
1 tbsp cinnamon
3 egg whites
1. Preheat the oven to 130 degrees C.
2. Prepare a baking sheet with parchment paper. I also sprayed it with a little baking spray.
3. Combine all the dry ingredients in a large bowl (oats, nuts, coconut, cinnamon)
4. In a separate bowl, whip egg whites until small peaks form. It took me 4-5 mins.
5. Fold egg whites into the dry mixture. Stir till all dry ingredients are mixed and well-coated.
6. Pour the oat mix onto the baking sheet and spread evenly.
7. Bake in the oven for about an hour, giving it a stir every 20 mins or so.
8. Remove from oven and enjoy!
Crunchy, slightly sweet, nutty, nutritious and a definite sugar craving killer. As always, moderation still applies here, but I’m pretty sure a bowl of this crunchy goodness is all you need to get your day started. I let ours sit for a few hours before I stored it in an airtight jar. In past experiences, sometimes the granola can get a little chewy if you store it before it has cooled completely.
Try it for yourself! You can use pretty much any combination of nuts, dried fruit, or even a little chocolate if you’re not trying to avoid sugar. This recipe can be gluten free or not, but it is sure to make even the former cereal addicts in your life fully satisfied.