Can we talk about cravings for a moment? For the most part, I don’t get cravings too often, but every once in a while, I get one. Badly. Something about those hormones, amiright? Let’s face it, at 34 weeks pregnant, I’ve seen my fair share of pregnancy cravings.
It’s often said that if you are craving something strongly, it’s usually an indication of a nutritional imbalance or deficiency. I don’t know how true that is, but it makes sense to me. When my plate is full of healthy nutritious food, I’m less likely to have crazy, pregnancy cravings.
But when my diet is less than perfect, I do notice a difference. Some cravings like oranges, grapefruits, eggs, and brussel sprouts are perfectly healthy, and I have no problem “indulging” in them. (Is it indulging when the food is healthy? I’m thinking that’s not the right use of the word…)
But some cravings? Not so perfect: chocolate, ice cream, and cereal.
Yep. I said cereal.
Despite what a lot of conventional information says, “fortified cereals” aren’t a great option as an nutrient dense meal or snack.
I have completely stopped buying cereal and granola. Let’s be honest, there is very little nutrition in your typical box of cereal, and what is there has been added in after anything of nutritional value has been stripped. (Let’s stop and think about the stupidity in that…. Confused? Yeah, me too.) Most granolas are full of sugar (yes, even organic cane sugar is still sugar).
The supermarket is packed with boxes of cereal and bags of granola all making health claims like, “heart healthy” or “high in protein”. You can find “grain-free,” “gluten-free,” or “organic” granola and cereal just about anywhere so why bother making your own granola?
Yet, there are times when I miss the crunch and comfort of a bowl of cereal. There’s something almost nostalgic about digging into a bowl of sweet cereal drowning in cold, crisp milk. Thank you, pregnancy cravings.
If, like me, you have been trying to reduce the amount of processed foods and sugars in your diet and instead turn to more nutritionally-rich, REAL foods, cereal is not a part of your daily diet. But you can make a super yummy option that provides you with plenty of nutrition and doesn’t contain grains or highly processed sugars.
What’s great about this granola is I’m able to satisfy a strong pregnancy craving, while filling my tummy with a lot of nutrients.
By using a combination of nuts, seeds, coconut, and natural sweeteners, you can make a “cereal” full of protein, healthy fats, vitamins, minerals.
I use a combinations of cashews, almonds, pecans, and walnuts. Nuts are high in protein, fiber, healthy fats (like omega 3s), and minerals like magnesium – which many of us are deficient in.
I love using sunflower seeds and pumpkin seeds in my granola. Sunflower seeds are full of protein, fiber, vitamin B6, zinc, and folate (great for TTC, or pregnant women!) Pumpkin seeds are super high in iron which can be a tough nutrient for women to get enough of, whether pregnant or not, and especially female runners. (You can read more about iron deficiency here.)
I use coconut flakes as well as oil in my granola. Coconut is a healthy fat that is actually an easy energy source for the body to use. (And if you’re growing a baby, those healthy fats are super important for brain development!) Including plenty of healthy fats in your diet won’t make you fat, rather it helps your body absorb vitamins and other fat-soluble nutrients.
Honey and Molasses
Honey and molasses are two of my favorite sweeteners because they are less processed than other sugars/sweeteners and contain plenty of trace minerals like potassium, iron, and calcium as well as vitamins. I like raw honey and black strap molasses the best.
I have a strange obsession with black strap molasses because of how crazy high in iron it is, and it has about 60 percent less sugar than regular molasses! Plus, I love the deep rich flavor.
You’ll notice an absence of a very traditional ingredient in my granola: oats. Grains like oats can cause inflammatory response in some people. I actually don’t have an issue with a small amount of oats, but I like my granola just fine without them. Feel free to go ahead and add them in if you want.
1 cup cashews
1 cup almonds
1 cup walnuts
1 cup pecans
1/2 cup sunflower seeds
1/2 cup pumpkin seeds (without shell)
1 cup coconut flakes
1 cup unsweetened dried fruit ( I like a combo of raisins, unsweetened cranberries, and unsulfured apricots)
1/4 cup coconut oil, melted
1 tsp vanilla
2 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp ginger
1/2 tsp grated fresh nutmeg (eyeball it)
1/2 tsp sea salt
1/2 cup molasses
1/4 cup raw honey
- Add almonds, cashews, walnuts, pecans, and seeds into a food processor. Pulse together until nuts are coarsely chopped. You want to break up the nuts, but you don’t want a fine powder.
- Pour nuts and seeds into a mixing bowl. Add coconut flakes, dried fruit, oil, vanilla, salt, ginger, cinnamon, and nutmeg and stir together until everything is well-combined.
- Add molasses and honey and stir well until everything is evenly coated.
- Transfer to a parchment-lined baking sheet and spread in an even layer.
- Bake at 250 degrees for an hour stirring every 15-20 minutes or so.
- The granola will still be soft when you pull it out, but let it cool completely into a deliciously crunchy mass before breaking it up and storing it in a glass container. The granola should stay good for a couple of weeks, but if your family is anything like mine, it won’t last that long.
Enjoy! Let me know how you like it!
Grain-free Granola (1)