Christmas in a mouthful: Gingerbread Granola (low FODMAP & refined sugar free )

Yep, I’m one of those people…

One of those people who still, even at 22 years of age, puts milk, cookies and carrots out for Santa and his reindeer and wakes up to an overflowing human-size stocking on Christmas Morning. For me, tinsel-adorned traffic lights signify that it’s time to start blasting Michael Buble’s 2011 Christmas album in my car, and that CD doesn’t come off rotation until mid-January. I find excuses to go driving late at night just so I can “ooh” and “ahh” at the fairy light exhibitions in Melbourne’s backstreets. Even the tackiest light displays send ripples of sweet nostalgia through me.

Maintaining our childhood Christmas fantasies, even when we’re far too old to do so, is kind of a big deal to my family. It is, after all, the most wonderful time of the year…

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How could I not be at ease with the world when the most wonderful day of the year is only one shy week away, the early Summer sun is shining outside, I’ve just spent the afternoon decorating the tree and wrapping presents, and my oven is exhaling the most delightful notes of ginger, cinnamon and maple?

My home has been diffused with the smell of freshly baked sugar cookies and gingerbread, except it’s not sugar cookies, nor is it gingerbread; It’s my Gingerbread Granola. And it’s a winner. I’ve already eaten a third of the tray, it’s that good (oops).

Slightly sweet and slightly spicy, this Gingerbread Granola recipe is a gorgeous marriage of cinnamon, ginger, pecans and coconut. It’s sweetened just enough with maple syrup, and subtle pops of lemon and dried cranberries bring all the flavours together. Like any good granola should, it offers that perfect crunch and crispiness before it melts in your mouth.

Gingerbread for breakfast? YES PLEASE!

However you use this granola is entirely up to you; pair a generous handful with your favourite nut milk and berries for a wholesome fuss-free brekky, sprinkle it over smoothie bowls, banana ‘ice cream’, or whiz it through smoothies to amp up their flavour, thickness and nutritional content. It’s also great to snack on as is, but try to portion it out so that you don’t go overboard (If only I could take my own advice – hopefully you’ve got a little more self-discipline than I do!)

For something a bit spesh, try layering the granola with stewed oranges or other fruit and your favourite yoghurt (coconut or full fat) in individual glasses  – the perfect Christmas Parfait for brunch entertaining! I can’t wait to serve these to my family on Christmas Morning while we rummage through our stockings…

And if you’ve really got your loved ones in mind, make lovely homemade gifts by filling up jam jars with the granola and tying festive ribbon and gift tags on them. Everyone loves homemade edible treats! I also added gingerbread babies (as pictured, available at Coles) to the jars for an extra gingerbread-y touch – not exactly clean, but hey, it’s CHRISTMAS!

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Slightly sweet and slightly spicy, this Gingerbread Granola recipe is a gorgeous marriage of cinnamon, ginger, pecans and coconut. It’s sweetened just enough with maple syrup, and subtle pops of lemon and dried cranberries bring all the flavours together. As any good granola should, it offers that perfect crunch and crispiness before it melts in your mouth.

This recipe is very forgiving, so feel free to mix it up. So long as you’re mindful of dry to wet ratios, you can pretty much throw in whatever you’ve got on hand!

Gingerbread Granola

Dietary info: Vegan, wheat free, dairy free, egg free, refined sugar free (see notes), low FODMAP (lessen nut & coconut quantities to further reduce FODMAPs), fructose-friendly (omit dried cranberries to lessen fructose load). For a gluten free version, simply replace the rolled oats with a mix of other suitable cereals, such as activated buckinis, puffed quinoa, puffed corn, rice flakes or more rice crisps. For a grain free version, replace most of the oats and rice crisps with buckinis and increase the nut, seed & dried coconut content (if FODMAPs are not an issue for you).

Ingredients

Dry:

  • 3 cups rolled oats (sub in activated buckinis for gluten free or Paleo)
  • 1 cup rice crispies/puffed rice
  • 1 cup shredded unsweetened coconut
  • 1 1/2 cups raw nuts of choice, roughly chopped (I used mostly pecans and almonds, but macadamias and walnuts would also be great)
  • 1/2 cup seeds of choice (I used pepitas and sunflower kernels)
  • 2 tbs coconut sugar
  • 3/4 tsp finely ground Himalayan sea salt
  • 1 tbs ground cinnamon
  • 1 1/4 tsp ground ginger
  • 1/2 tsp ground cardamom
  • 1/3 cup dried cranberries (unsweetened if possible, omit for strictly fructose friendly – see notes)

Wet:

  • 1/2 cup melted coconut oil
  • 1/3 cup pure maple syrup (you could also use rice malt syrup)
  • 1 tbs lemon juice

Method

  1. Preheat oven to 160*C and lightly grease a large baking tray (I use cold pressed coconut oil spray, available at Coles).
  2. In a large bowl, combine all the ‘dry’ ingredients except the dried coconut and cranberries.
  3. Add the ‘wet’ ingredients, gently folding with a large wooden spoon until the dry mixture is evenly coated. If you taste the raw mixture at this point, you may notice that it tastes quite tangy and leaves a strange feeling in the back of your mouth. DO NOT FRET! That’s just the uncooked ginger, and the resulting flavour once it’s cooked will be gorgeous. It might also seem a little too sweet, but most of this sweetness cooks out in the baking process too.
  4. Bake for 15 minutes, then remove from oven, add the dried coocnut and give the tray a good mix to ensure the granola cooks evenly. Return to the oven for a further 10-15 minutes, or until fragrant and lightly browned.
  5. Remove from the oven and mix through dried cranberries. The granola will continue to cook and crisp up after you’ve taken it out of the oven, so don’t worry if it’s a little soft or wet. Allow to cool completely before transferring to airtight containers or glass jars. The granola will keep for 1-2 weeks if stored in a cool place away from direct sunlight.

Notes:

  • A few of you fructose malabsorbers may be wondering why there’s dried cranberries in this recipe. Well, there’s two reasons: firstly, from a fructose sensitivity perspective, unless you’re in the elimination phase of the low FODMAP diet, you should be able to incorporate small amounts of moderate-to-high FODMAP foods into your diet; And secondly, from a general health perspective, I try to limit my intake of dried fruit (AKA concentrated sugar/fructose) as much as possible, however, I couldn’t be a bigger advocate of “everything in moderation”, and a few cranberries in your granola ain’t gonna kill you. Plus, they really bring this recipe together and, well, it’s CHRISTMAS! Convinced?
  • While we’re on the sugar note, you may notice that this recipe contains a little more sugar than my usual recipes do (1/3 cup pure maple syrup + 2 tbs coconut sugar). In my opinion, this recipe is too yum not to follow, so I recommend sticking to it and serving it with unsweetened nut milk and low-sugar fruits like berries. However, if you really must be extra sugar-conscious, simply cut out the coconut sugar and lessen the maple to 1/4 cup. You may wish to add some powdered stevia to taste at the end to bring the sweetness up a notch, but be careful not to overdo it.

Happy Nourishing!
Ax

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5 thoughts on “Christmas in a mouthful: Gingerbread Granola (low FODMAP & refined sugar free )

  1. Thanks so much! I’m doing central and south america (leaving in just under two months – eek!) so I know the food will be just unreal. I didn’t really think about the fact that I will be so much more active than I would normally be here! Thanks again and you have definitely helped calm my fitness-related woes xx

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  2. Hey Jess! I definitely did lose some fitness and put a bit of weight on in Europe because unfortunately I’m not naturally thin and have absolutely no natural muscle definition, but here’s some of the best advice I can give:
    Firstly, you’re going on a trip of a lifetime and you are supposed to ENJOY everything it entails, so make as many good health choices as you can, but never be too hard on yourself on the exercise front, and don’t be TOO strict or conscious about the food. You’re going to have to accept the fact that you’re not going to come home as taut and toned as you are now, but you’ll come back a more fulfilled and enriched person which is worth so much more! That said, as much as I didn’t deprive myself of anything whilst overseas, I certainly didn’t go overboard either, because I’m not one of those lucky people born with a fast metabolism or natural muscle definition. I was also very injured at the time of my trip, so I couldn’t do any deliberate exercise over the 3 months (which sucked, because there are so many great ways to exercise and maintain fitness which don’t involve a gym when you’re abroad – hikes, long walking tours, bike rides, swimming etc). So I just tried to dance, swim and walk as much as I could haha! Besides, I was enjoying myself too much to even consider what it would be like to be in a gym over there. It’s easy to switch your inner fitness fanatic off when no one around you is going to the gym and, no, please don’t get your yoga mat out in the dorm because I was victim to a guy who would do his workout circuits next to my bed in Barcelona, and let’s just say that he didn’t have any buddies to explore or party with haha! Do your yoga in parks and on beaches – perfect!

    In terms of food, here’s my best advice: it really depends on where you’re going so it’s hard for me to say, but just like home, it’s always more expensive to eat healthily than it is to eat conveniently. I would always fork out more money to buy fresh salads and quality protein over fast food. I was super tight on money the whole trip, so I’d always take advantage of fresh markets as well. Also, I never went ANYWHERE without trail mix, a jar of PB, rice cakes, bananas and tins of tuna in my bag. That way, if it was just a normal travelling day and I felt really stuck for healthy choices or couldn’t find anything to accommodate my many food intolerances, I always had a back up on me. Even my most health-conscious girlfriends would sometimes opt for fast food if they were starving and couldn’t find anything healthy to eat. Having back up snacks means that you’ll never HAVE to choose unhealthy food. Of course, it’s so important to indulge and embrace local delicacies and dishes, no matter how rich or ‘unhealthy’ they are. It’s all part of traveling. Just try to maintain balance. For example, there was no way I was going to go to Paris and not have a creme brulee or ice cream, or go to Spain and turn down tapas, churros and paella. But on the days I knew I’d be eating such treats, I’d make sure my other meals were a little lighter. EMBRACE every aspect of your travel, but just don’t go overboard with food every moment of every day. Yes, I ate sweets and fries at times, but I wouldn’t have it several days a week like other people would, simply because my body doesn’t handle such foods well and can’t eat like that without packing on weight.

    I really hope this (essay) helps! SAFE AND HAPPY TRAVELS!
    Ashlyn xxx

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  3. Hi there. I was just wondering if you could give me tips on how to maintain a somewhat healthy lifestyle when travelling overseas? I saw that you went to Europe for 4 months and you looked just as great when you got back. I’ll be heading abroad for about 5-6 months and will be roughing it (backpacking – no gyms, and I don’t know how comfortable i’d be doing my yoga exercises in front of 15 other people in a dorm haha). I’m healthy and fit now, I just don’t know how to maintain it. Any tips/advice would be appreciated! 🙂

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  4. I really like the brunch parfait idea!! I also love giving food gifts – spiced roasted nuts or cookies, last year I made apple butter! Everyone loves food gifts 🙂

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