Granola is a popular snack and breakfast option that has been adorned with a healthy halo. Unfortunately, commercial versions are often loaded with sugar and unhealthy oils, certainly undeserving of that aforementioned crown. You’d probably be better off eating a candy bar for breakfast. Luckily, healthy and (most importantly) delicious granola is easy to make at home and customize to your tastes.


Traditionally granola is made with an oatmeal base with various nuts, seeds and dried fruit. The mixture is coated in oil, sweetened and toasted. That’s not to say that other grains can’t be used as a base or left out altogether for a grain-free nut/seed granola. I’ll share my basic recipe here along with ideas for how to make your perfect batch.

I do however, suggest making the chocolate fig version at least once. It’s a delicious combination that feels special enough to give as a gift. A word of caution though—a small serving is all that is needed, and let me tell you, this stuff is addictive!


Beautiful Buckwheat

Despite its name, buckwheat is not related to wheat. In fact, it is not a cereal grain at all. Buckwheat lacks the endosperm and germ that characterizes cereal grains, but since it is used in a similar way, it is known as a pseudo-grain. Gluten-free and high in protein, buckwheat works well in pancakes, waffles and quick breads as a substitute for wheat flour.

Buckwheat has been shown to lower cholesterol and high blood pressure, likely due to its high flavonoid content. It is also an excellent source of magnesium and contains a fair amount of vitamin B5, manganese, phosphorus, fiber and protein. As a matter of fact, buckwheat contains all eight essential amino acids making it a high quality protein source. [1]

You can find buckwheat in the bulk section of most health food stores and well stocked supermarkets. Look for raw buckwheat groats – they are lighter in color and have a slight green hue to them. You may also see buckwheat groats sold as kasha, which is roasted and has a darker color. I like to keep a supply of raw groats in my pantry to grind into flour as needed and to make pudding or porridge.


Building the Best Granola

Once you have a good formula to work with, you can really go wild with different combinations to suit your tastes and what you have on hand. The chocolate fig combo is just one of many flavor combinations. Basically you need:

base (4 c) + nuts/seeds (3 c) + coconut oil (1/4 c) + sweetener (1/2 c) + spices + add-ins (up to 1 c)

I usually make a double batch for gift giving and change up the add-ins to make two kinds at once. I like to use a mixture of buckwheat and oats for the base, but you could certainly play with the proportions and go all oats or buckwheat if you prefer. I always include coconut as part of my nut/seed ratio, preferably in flaked form. Other favorites are pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds, sliced almonds, chopped pecans, walnuts, macadamia and cashews. Honey or maple syrup for the sweetener and don’t forget the salt!  It really makes this. For add-ins I like dried currents, raisins, hemp seeds, coco nibs, poppy seeds, ground flax, lucuma powder, cocoa powder, maca or mesquite powder.

Experiment and have fun – you really can’t go wrong!


Chocolate Fig Granola

Prep Time: 5 minutes

Cook Time: 1 hour

Total Time: 1 hour, 5 minutes

Yield: about 8 cups


  • 3 cups old fashioned rolled oats
  • 1 cup raw buckwheat groats
  • 1-1/2 cups flaked coconut
  • 1/2 cup sliced almonds
  • 1/2 cup chopped pecans
  • 1/4 cup sunflower seeds
  • 1/4 cup chopped cashews
  • 1/3 cup coconut oil
  • 1/2 cup maple syrup
  • 1/3 cup raw cacao powder
  • 1/4 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 8 dried figs, chopped
  • 1/3 cup coco nibs


  1. Preheat oven to 300 degrees.
  2. Place oats, buckwheat, coconut, nuts and seeds in a large mixing bowl and stir to combine.
  3. Melt coconut oil over low heat. Add maple syrup, cacao powder, cinnamon and salt. Stir until well combined.
  4. Pour the wet ingredients over the dry and toss until evenly coated. Transfer to a large rimmed baking sheet lined with parchment paper and spread evenly. You may need to use more than one baking sheet.
  5. Bake for one hour, stirring every 20 minutes or so, until the mixture is golden and fragrant.
  6. Remove from oven and let cool slightly. Stir in figs and coco nibs.
  7. Let cool completely before storing in an airtight glass jar.

[1] Murray, Michael and Pizzorno, Joseph. The Encyclopedia of Healing Foods. New York, Atria Books. 2005 p345-346. Print.


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