Thursday, February 18, 2010

Recipe: Grain-Free Granola (Nola) - The Final Cut

Way back in June of 2009, I tried my hand at making a granola-replacement for the beau's breakfasts, and was thrilled with the results. I posted the recipe to this blog so that he could log on and see how to make it himself. Sadly, he has never pulled his finger out and made himself a batch. So, every few weeks, I'm begged to make up a new lot of it for him and, fool that I am, I do it. Why? Because I don't want him eating carby garbage. He's already started effortlessly losing weight now that he rarely strays into Neolithic Land, except for the odd lunch bought during the work day.

Over the months, I have honed the recipe to the point where I don't have to measure or think as I make it. The ingredient list has diminished to a core of never-fail elements, and I have explored use of healthier and more natural sweetening agents, such as true maple syrup, appealing to his Canadian upbringing. I use less and less sweetener every time, and he has stopped adding fruit to his granola as well, so this is helping him avoid lunchtime carb cravings.

So I present to you - Grain-Free Granola (or, as I call it, 'Nola', since there's no 'Gra' in my mix!): Theme & Variations.

Core Ingredients:

1kg raw almonds (soaked if possible)
500g raw walnuts (same)
150g coconut flakes or grated coconut
3 egg whites
Optional - 2T sweetener (either maple syrup, or xylitol & a pinch of stevia)


1. Preheat oven to moderate, and line metal trays with foil or paper. I have Xtrema ceramic bakeware, so I use them as is - nothing sticks too firmly, and there's no liner waste.

2. Using about a cup of nuts at a time, depending on blender size, process nuts in a deep or sealed bowl until chunks are at the desired size. You can also chop the nuts by hand if you're keen for a long, steady workout.

3. Place prepared nuts in a large bowl, and add coconut.

4. In a small, dry bowl, beat egg whites until smooth, glossy peaks form. Add sweetener, and stir thoroughly.

5. Add egg mixture to nuts & coconut, and stir thoroughly until no egg foam is visible and everything has been coated. If you feel the egg didn't stretch far enough, whip up another white and add that to your bowl.

6. Spoon nut mixture onto bakeware, keeping the layers no thicker than an inch high.

7. Bake in oven for around 10 minutes, or until the top layer starts to become golden.

8. Remove from oven and stir mixture to bring uncooked nuts to the surface and to break apart any lumps. Replace in oven and bake for another 10 or so minutes, watching for burning. You may need to repeat this step if your batch is cooking unevenly (if you're oven is anything like mine, you'll be in this situation for an extra 20 minutes or so of stirring and replacing).

9. When cooked to your liking, remove from oven and allow to cool thoroughly before storing in an air-tight container. Don't worry if your cereal pouring container is adulterated with gratuitous corn flake imagery:

Serve with berries & cream (or coconut cream) for best results, but is also good with straight raw milk, or so I'm told. Personally, I could eat it like trail mix, by itself, so long as there's no sweetener added to the batch!

(NB: If the SAD's portion distortion has you thinking that a normal serve of such foods is upwards of two cups, I'd like to point out that just half a cup of Nola will satisfy you, especially if served with cream. The beau, being a tall boy, tends towards a full cup serving, with his milk. Eat slowly, enjoy, and listen to your leptin receptors.)


Sunny Nola - After baking, add dried fruit such as sultanas, chopped apricot, goji berries, and even dried apple slices. Good for those with a sweet tooth or those who use carbs after a workout.

Seedy Nola - add sunflower or pumpkin seeds to the chopped nuts before adding the egg whites.

Norridge (Nola Porridge) - after baking, put batch through the food processor to create a semi-fine meal. Fantastic served with warmed milk, cream or coconut cream, or just add hot water and cooked fruit.

PumpkiNola - warm and add canned or previously roasted and pureed pumpkin to your bowlful of Nola, and stir thoroughly. Top with cream, and enjoy a hearty treat!

A lovely, luxe breakfast for those mornings where you just can't face eggs and bacon. I clearly don't understand your mind-set, but I hear there are such people out there... :)


Ben said...

This looks great! I'm excited to try it. My wife is one who can't face eggs and bacon in the morning (I don't get it either...).

Primal Mama said...

Thanks for the recipe! My kids can't stomach eggs in the morning and I'm hoping they'll like it!

Anonymous said...

GREAT recipe. I'm not eating very many nuts these days, but I'm always looking for good treats for my two paleo teenagers.

You could make a savory version, too, and add things like dill, rosemary, and bits of homemade beef jerky. Yummy!

SnowDog said...

That may be primal, but it looks like there's a lot of calories in that. There may be close to 2000 calories per serving.

But I can't wait to try it. :)

medical said...

Oh my! this is what I've been looking for all the past few months now. I really think you pulled it off perfectly.

Mark said...

No reason you should know this, but Nola is also short for New Orleans, Louisiana in the U.S. I therefore suggest another variation, titled "Nola Nola," whereby creole, cajun or other appropriate spices are added to a snack version of your creation. Thanks for sharing!

Sandy said...

Haha, my mom has been making egg muffins for breakfast, and the other day she asked me what I do when I get bored with eggs. Gee, mom, I don't get bored with eggs.

I've made my own "nola" in the past with a combo of nuts and seeds, but I just sprouted them, dried them, processed them, and then mixed in some dried fruit. A little has lasted me a veeeeeeeeeeery long time now, but I'll be curious to try the egg white trick and see how that changes it.

Adam Satterfield said...

What temperature do you recommend? What is moderate?

Jezwyn said...

Thanks for the comments, all! I'd love to hear how you go!

PaleoPrincess - savory sounds fascinating! I don't think the beau would go there, but it might make a cool addition to cream cheese... Ideas are forming..!

SnowDog - that all depends on your serving size. I'd say that half a cup would be totally satisfying, and that comes out at around 300kcal, plus 2T heavy cream add 100kcal, so that's a pretty decent 400kcal breakfast. If you're like me and tend to skip lunch, there's no reason why you couldn't boost it up to a cup, so 700kcal, and personally I reckon that would be too filling!

Haha, thanks Mark!! Since I'm a teacher, maybe I should make sure not to eat Nola on school days lest I go down the path of Blanche DuBois! :P

Hi Adam! I use a moderate temperature - between low and high! :P I've resorted to descriptive temperatures since some readers sook when I only put the degree marker in Celsuis points and then blame me when they "have to guess/convert to Fahrenheit" or burn their food! Pfft. My oven is really crappy and heats unevenly, so it's better I stay descriptive rather than commit to a specific temperature anyway. Yay for renting! :) So yes, just check regularly - if browning is occurring in the time measurement I've given you, you're all set, but if it's happening too fast, turn the temperature down a bit. If you're still totally lost, try around 150degC to start.

zach said...

Tried it this evening with my kids, they loved it. We didn't have aluminum foil and tried it with just the oven broiler pan. There was some sticking, wasn't bad. We halved the recipe, used 2 egg though, came out great. Used maple syrup. We put it in a few ziplock bags high in the cupboard otherwise most of it would've been eaten tonight. One kid tried it in milk, not bad. A winner, and a new Friday ritual of making something primal (from this blog a lot of the time I'm sure) has been set.

Best Regards,

Sarah said...

My husband and I are supper excited to try this. My one thought is that it is awfully pricey breakfast, so we're planning on saving it as a once a week treat. Thanks so much for sharing this with us.

Jezwyn said...

Enjoy, Sarah! If you buy your nuts in bulk, and up the coconut (especially if you use dessicated coconut rather than coconut flakes, which tend to be pricier), then that will bring the cost down. You also don't need to eat much to be satisfied - half a cup is plenty, especially if you serve it with coconut cream or dairy cream.

I buy 500g bags of almonds and walnuts, which are around $9-10 Australian each, and then give about $2 for eggs and coconut... That's just over $20 for what makes at least a fortnight's worth of breakfasts for the beau, if not more, and he eats about a cup of Nola per serve. $2 or less for breakfast? That's cheaper than bacon and eggs!

Emma said...

What a great recipe! We're loving this, I've been eating it as a "treat" w/ frozen raspberries and some home-made almond milk. Slushie and great. Had to grate my own coconut though- couldn't find the flaked coconut locally.

Anonymous said...

Jezwyn - this is a winner. I've made this close to a dozen times now and always change it up a bit. Hope you don't mind me sharing an adaptation on my blog (I'm still learning how to use the trackback feature).

Jezwyn said...

Glad you like it! I don't mind sharing at all, as long as there's some link love coming back here :) Took me ages to perfect the recipe to my beau's taste preferences, but I'm sure some people prefer different nuts or fruit, etc, so adapt away! I'll be making the next batch for the beau tomorrow - almonds, walnuts, and brazil nuts since they were on special - should be yum! And I get to scramble up the yolks as part of my dinner - perfection!

Anna said...

Thank you for this recipe! I made it today and I think it will be perfect for those days when I wish for something that's already made and ready to eat with just a little bit of cream. Yum!

Adam Crafter said...

I made a batch of this in cinnamon, Ginger, vanilla flavor for my wife's upcoming business trip.
Thanks for the great recipe, we've tried a few times before, and this time I'm using it to help protect my wife from crappy airport food'stuff's...

Anonymous said...

Just found your page today and I love it. I cook eggs for both boys and my hubby every morning, but I am not an egg person, so I love this idea to have something on hand for me in the morning. PLUS- I have been looking for a use for my egg whites that are leftover after making paleo ice cream with coconut milk and 4 egg yolks!

Anonymous said...

So how do you store this since it has cooked egg white in it? I would think it belongs in the fridge, and according to some people it shouldn't even stay in the fridge for too long.

Jezwyn said...

I keep the Nola in air-tight containers in a pantry. There's no reason to keep it in the fridge. I don't believe in the scaremongering that follows the use of eggs - i.e. don't consume raw eggs, keep your eggs in the fridge, blah blah. If that danger were real, supermarkets would never keep pavlova bases in thin cardboard boxes on shelves for months at a time.

I use free-range eggs from pastured chickens, and I have no problem eating them raw. The beau eats his Nola with raw milk and organic berries. The only health risk would be the pesticide that may or may not be in/on the walnuts from California :P

Anonymous said...

I just want to say thanks for the recipe. I finally tried it on the kids this morning and got ZERO complaints. Even my husband liked it!!

Finona said...

This looks fantastic and I'd love to give it a try! You mention soaking the nuts early in the recipe, how long should this be done for? Thanks, love your blog!

Jezwyn said...


Finona - look up the Weston Price Foundation's information regarding nut and seed soaking. I don't soak the nuts for the beau's Nola since he doesn't actively try to minimise his phytic acid intake - no point spending hours preparing nuts when he eats a glutenous wrap sandwich for lunch! :)

Daghain said...

Oh my God I am totally going to make this to use as a snack when hiking/snowshoeing. It's always hard to find a low-carb snack you can pack in a backpack that's NOT over salted beef jerky.

Sophia said...

This looks amazing, thank you for sharing your recipe!! WHat do the egg whites do to the Nola? Is it crunchy or soft? I have made granola many times in the past and used oil but never egg whites. I am curious to hear how it affects the nuts/seeds after baking. Also, did you soak your nuts before making this? Is it necessary to dry them in the oven before baking and mixing with the rest of the ingredients if soaked? Thanks so much!

moops said...

I have a fresh coconut in the fridge and two little boys who we are wanting desperately to give up their grain-based (albeit gluten free) granola. Your recipe sounds perfect, I will make a batch this week. Wondering how to incorporate fresh coconut? It's not dessicated. We opened it but no one was too crazy about the taste as is.

Jezwyn said...

Sorry for the delayed response - these comments were awaiting confirmation, so they didn't come through my offsite feed. :(

Hi Sophia! The Nola is crunchy - a light coating of egg white helps the colour and crunch of the nuts as they cook. I've made it without the whites but everything ends up too separate and 'dusty', like the crumbs at the bottom of a bag of cereal (if memory serves!). I sometimes froth the whites before adding them, which helps the components of the Nola bind together into chunks of deliciousness, as well and holding the spices (cinnamon, etc) to the nuts. If you soak the nuts/seeds, you will definitely need to dry them thoroughly before binding with egg whites and cooking - you don't want to trap any moisture!

Hi Moops! I'm not mad on the taste of fresh coconut either. If you guys don't like the taste, then my first recommendation of making coconut milk to serve on the Nola won't be suitable, but perhaps you could try drying the flesh out and flaking it? Let me know what you end up trying!

Sophia said...

Hi Jezwyn! Thanks so much for your response. Hehe.. I actually ended up making the Nola the night before your response, I couldn't wait because I wanted something different from eggs/meat for breakfast. I soaked/sprouted the nuts overnight and dehydrated them in the oven for about 10 hours at 150 deg. and the Nola turned out FABULOUS!!! I love the crunchy clusters from the egg whites, I will be making many different variations of this! Thank you for sharing your recipe! :)

hwalkerf said...

Paleo People makes a Cappuchino Crunch that's divine, going to try to duplicate it by adding a dash of cocoa and roasted coffee beans to my Nola.

Rae said...

Made my first batch last night and huge thumbs up from the Boy!

Its a great grab and go breakfast, and maes a terrific topping with my organic, grass fed whipped cream and berries!

Sandra Leedy said...

Dear Girl Gone Primal,
You are amazing!! This nola recipe has saved me (and my husband) from going crazy. I love seeing your creative cooking photos (google: Girl Gone Primal "images") I'll be the first in line to buy your book, wearing your t-shirt! (you plan on writing one don't you?) I can honestly say: I'm a Girl Gone Primal fan.

Linnyhb said...

Thank you for this recipe. I've made it a few times and my DH and I love it. I like how it doesn't have much sweetener in it since we eat VLC.

Joe RedBelair said...

Should the mixture be 'dried out' before putting in an air tight container?
Mine seems 'moist' and not crispy and I am reluctant to put in an air tight container as it could be susceptible to mold....maybe.
I added some dried red raspberries to my liking. The results are very good.

Jezwyn said...

Hi Joe,

The Nola should definitely be dry by the time it is cooked - if there still seems to be a lot of moisture in the nuts, leave them in the oven on a low temperature for an hour, to help dehydrate them.

As for mold, Nola never lasts long enough in the cupboard for that to be an issue, even if it's put away a bit 'fresh'! ;)