Grain-Free Pumpkin Spice Granola (Paleo) + Tips on Soaking and Sprouting Nuts and Seeds

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Oh I totally went there! Pumpkin spice season runs pretty much all year round in my mind. And, hey, if you don’t like pumpkin spice, just use cinnamon. Everyone wins!

First off, let’s chat details about this granola. This isn’t your typical carbohydrate, sugar laden oat bomb of a snack. It’s made with soaked and dehydrated (optional) pumpkin and sunflower seeds, coconut, chia seeds and honey. Healthy fats, fiber and just a touch of sweetness. It’s perfection.

I say sprouting the seeds is optional because it’s relatively labor intensive. Not necessarily with hands-on time but it does take some thought beforehand. I usually soak and dehydrate a big batch of seeds at once and store them in the freezer for later usage. I love using seeds that have been prepared this way because it makes them incredibly easy to digest. By soaking seeds (nuts can be soaked too!) you break down the phytic acid that is present as a defense mechanism in all seeds and nuts.

Phytic acid acts as a safeguard for the nut or seed until proper growing conditions are present and germination can occur. This safeguard is great for a growing plant or seed but when ingested into the human body it binds to minerals and becomes a phytate. This process can stop nutrients from being absorbed in the digestive system and reduce the digestibility of these foods. Read: there a tons of nutrients in nuts and seeds but phytic acid reduces the ability of your body to absorb these nutrients or break them down properly!

The soaking process also helps to neutralize enzyme inhibitors that is useful in breaking down food. Soaking for even 7 hours can help reduce these inhibitors and greatly boost the nutrient availability in these foods. I don’t know about you but I am ALL ABOUT getting the most out of my food. I am a self-proclaimed nutrient seeker and want to help my body be the healthiest it can possibly be.

So, how do you soak seeds and nuts? It’s really simple, actually! All you need is some filtered water and some sea salt. The combination of warm water and salt helps to break down the enzymes that can be so tough to digest. As a general guideline, for every one cup of nuts or seeds you will need 1½ -2 cups of warm, filtered water and ½ tablespoon sea salt.

Place seeds, warm water and salt in a glass jar or bowl and let sit at room temperature for 7-24 hours. After letting sit out, rinse the seeds or nuts and either use a dehydrator to remove the remaining moisture or an oven on a low setting. Typically 150°F for an hour or two will do the trick.

Again, I like to do large batches of nuts and seeds at a time that I get from the bulk bins and will soak them overnight and then fire up the dehydrator in the morning. This process takes about 2 full days, but is really worth it when I know my body doesn’t have to work as hard to digest and absorb the food that I’m putting into it!

If you don’t feel like soaking or dehydrating your seeds for this recipe, don’t sweat it. The granola will still taste FANTASTIC!

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Paleo Grain-Free Pumpkin Spice Granola

(PALEO, GLUTEN-FREE, DAIRY-FREE, NUT-FREE, LOW SUGAR)
SERVES 4
PREP TIME: 10 MINUTES (+ up to 2 days for soaking/dehydrating)            COOK TIME: 20 MINUTES

Ingredients:

½ cup pumpkin seeds (also called pepitas), soaked and dehydrated

½ cup sunflower seeds, soaked and dehydrated

1 cup unsweetened coconut flakes

2 tbs. chia seeds

2 tbs. coconut oil, ghee or butter, melted

2 tsp. pumpkin pie spice

¼ tsp. sea salt

½ cup raisins or chocolate chips (optional)

Method:

  1. If soaking and dehydrating, follow instructions above at least a day in advance.
  2. After completely drying the seeds preheat oven to 300° and line a flat baking sheet with parchment paper.
  3. Combine all ingredients, except raisins, in bowl and mix until it comes together. At this point you can either choose to leave as is, or pulse a few times in a food processor or blender to break up into smaller pieces. I chose to run it through a blender for a few seconds.
  4. Spread out as flat as possible on baking sheet and bake 20 minutes, stirring once halfway through.
  5. For crunchy clusters of granola: don’t touch or stir after baking until completely cooled!! This allows the granola to clump together and not just break apart.
  6. Once cooled completely, add raisins or chocolate chips and stir to combine (you don’t want to add raisins in until last because they will become overly dry in the oven)
  7. Enjoy with your choice of milk in the morning as a fun breakfast or as a midday snack!

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