Naturally sweetened toasted coconut granola

Naturally sweetened toasted coconut granola

I’m pretty sure you guys know this by now but we take breakfast pretty serious around here. I’m a firm believer that starting your day with a little wholesome goodness is the best (and only) way to start the day. As for Thom? Well, he’s a lot less concerned about the nutritional value of what he’s shoving into his face and more concerned with the fact that he just gets something – anything – into his body within a couple hours of waking. If there’s a healthier alternative, he’ll gladly eat it. But his request for homemade granola fell on deaf ears so, naturally, he started buying it from the grocery store. And when I picked up the bag and noticed multiple forms of processed sugar I knew I had to stop being lazy and make the man some damn granola because there’s no reason anyone should be eating that much highly refined sugar first thing in the morning.

As you can tell from the title of this post, I was fruitful in my homemade granola efforts but, instead of stashing it away for Thom’s mid-morning feasts, I put in a plastic bag and delivered it to my littlest brother (who’s currently living that dorm life) because college kids can always use more food, right? I also delivered a double batch of my coconut oil chocolate chunk cookies so I can say with certainty that the granola hasn’t been touched. And if/when it is, it’s likely going to get sprinkled with sugar because if there’s anyone less appreciative of naturally sweetened things, it’s every. single. one. of my (five) brothers. What I’m trying to say is that I owe Thom some more granola. And probably a batch of cookies, too (because giving away his homemade granola was a preeeeetty shitty thing to do).

Anyway, enough about breakfast and IOUs.

I figured I should probably make it known that I started consuming poultry again. I’ve always said that when the craving struck, I’d indulge. And I woke up one day earlier this year (shortly after I started abstaining from gluten) and was all HOLY HELL I WANT AN ENTIRE ROTISSERIE CHICKEN FROM WHOLE FOODS. So Thom got me a rotisserie chicken from Whole Foods (for the record, I didn’t eat the entire thing). For a minute I looked at it in disgust because the thought of consuming a once living creature was – and still is – a little unsettling. But my body’s been craving animal protein something fierce. And since I’ve been really into intuitive eating (and intuitive living, in general), I figured I should probably stop dragging my feet and listen to my body. And you know what? I’ve never felt better. Or stronger. Or happier. Or healthier. I am not exaggerating when I say I feel like a new person. I feel like the clouds lifted and the sun came out. I feel good. Actually, I feel really fucking good; the best I’ve ever felt.

We’re going to discuss this at length once I do the one year recap post on life as an ex-long distance runner turned heavy weight lifter (because I’m a firm believer that the shift in my training regimen is what sparked the shift in my diet), but for now you should know that not much is going to change around these parts. My diet is still 90% plant-based so you can bet your ass the recipes on here will be, too. Unless, of course, you’d like me to share my recipe for overcooked chicken? Or maybe my recipe for The Most Boring Turkey Sandwich Ever? No? Didn’t think so. ;)

PS – Big thanks to my pal Jess for inspiring me to get back on the homemade granola train. <3

Naturally sweetened toasted coconut granolaNaturally sweetened toasted coconut granolaNaturally sweetened toasted coconut granolaNaturally sweetened toasted coconut granolaNaturally sweetened toasted coconut granolaNaturally sweetened toasted coconut granolaNaturally sweetened toasted coconut granolaNaturally sweetened toasted coconut granolaNaturally sweetened toasted coconut granola

Notes: I prefer to use the 1/2 cup measurement for both the pure maple syrup and coconut oil (because I’m not a fan of clumpy cereal granola or overly sweet granola) but if you are a fan of super clumpy and/or sweet cereal granola, use 3/4 cup for both (you’ll have to follow another step in the recipe to ensure the granola is clumpy, BTW). Feel free to use any liquid sweetener you want (honey, agave, etc.). I’ve experimented adding nut butters to this granola recipe and the results were great. You can add up to 1/2 cup of almond/cashew/etc. butter with success (and without drastically altering the end result). My favorite way to eat it: served over homemade coconut yogurt and topped with fresh fruit. Thom’s favorite way to eat it: drenched in toasted coconut almondmilk.

More naturally sweetened early morning goodness: single-serving vanilla protein waffle, my favorite overnight chia pudding, clumpy banana + almond butter granola with cacao nibs.


6 cups (540g) rolled oats
1/2 cup (85g) raw buckwheat groats, optional
1 teaspoon (5g) fine sea salt
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon vanilla bean powder, optional
1/2-3/4 cup (130-195g) pure maple syrup
 (see notes above)
1/2-3/4 cup (90-135g) unrefined coconut oil (see notes above)
1 tablespoon (12g) pure vanilla extract

Mix ins
2 cups unsweetened coconut flakes
2 cups (180g) raw pecans
, roughly chopped

Preheat oven to 300˚F. Add the rolled oats, buckwheat groats, sea salt, ground cinnamon, and vanilla bean powder to a large mixing bowl; toss to combine then set aside. Add the maple syrup to a small saucepan set over medium heat and bring to a boil. Once boiling, reduce heat to low and continue lightly simmering the syrup for 8-10 minutes. When the syrup has finished simmering, off the heat and stir in the coconut oil and vanilla extract (if your coconut oil is solid, let it sit until it melts). Pour the wet ingredients over the dry ingredients and stir to combine. Let the granola sit for 10-15 minutes to ensure the oats absorb the moisture and soften a bit (you can skip this step but I swear it makes for better granola). Add the coconut flakes and raw pecans; toss to combine. Spread the mixture evenly over a non-stick baking sheet and bake at 300˚F for 45 minutes, rotating halfway through. At the end of 45 minutes, remove pan from oven and give the granola a good stir. Put it back in the oven for an additional 8-10 minutes (for clumpier granola, skip the stirring and just bake the granola for ~55 minutes). Allow the granola to cool on the baking sheet then transfer to an airtight container. Will keep for up to one month.

Yield: a boatload of granola

Sour cherry + pecan granola – Add 1-2 cups of unsweetened dried cherries.
Apricot cacao nib granola – Omit the coconut, replace the pecans with almonds, and add 1 1/2 cups of dried apricots (roughly chopped) and 1/4 cup cacao nibs.
Cranberry orange granola – Add the zest from two oranges and 1 1/2 cups of unsweetened dried cranberries. Omit the coconut flakes (if desired).
Pistachio olive oil granola – Replace the pecans with (roughly chopped) pistachios and the coconut oil with extra virgin olive oil (I like this mild and buttery variety).
Maple pecan granola – Omit the coconut, add 1 teaspoon of maple flavor, and up the pecans to 3 cups.
Tropical granola – Omit the cinnamon and add 2 cups (total) of finely chopped dried pineapple.


Naturally sweetened toasted coconut granola


  • Reply Sarah | Well and Full 24 March 2017 at 8:15 AM

    You gotta do what you gotta do. F labels, ya know? Everyone’s body asks for different things and that’s okay. I just wanna let you know that I SUPPORT YOU!!!! <3 <3 <3

  • Reply Natalie Harney 24 March 2017 at 8:17 AM

    I’m really with you on intuitive eating. I’ve been phasing meat out of my diet for a while but I was really craving red meat last week so I made a bolognese and honestly I felt so much better for it. I think our bodies do know what we need, and while I want to eat as little meat and dairy as I can, I also think that listening to what our bodies need is super important.

    Speaking of cravings I have been so into coconut recently, I was never a huge fan but recently it’s been the only sweet flavour I’ve wanted, so I might have to try out this granola recipe over the weekend!

  • Reply dixya @food, pleasure, and health 24 March 2017 at 8:22 AM gotta just listen to your body and honor the cravings..i did not grow up eating beef but turns out, i was missing out. i will eat steak every now and then now and its delish!

    granola is a fav of mine too although i do stove top version. i love the idea of toasted coconut…

  • Reply Amy 24 March 2017 at 9:12 AM

    5 brothers?! Holy.moly. Are you the youngest or…?

    I gave up labels too. I have many vegan days… vegetarian days… paleo days… gluten free days. But I am one thing? Nope. Ebbs and flows, baby.

  • Reply Eva @ 1BigBite 24 March 2017 at 1:30 PM

    Agree! The amount of sugar in store-bought granola is just insane and IMO totally unnecessary. I rather not start my day with a sugar rush. I really like the buckwheat in your recipe, gotta give it a try!

  • Reply Kirsten Gerrie 24 March 2017 at 1:48 PM

    If you want some company, I broke 7 years of vegetarianism a few weeks ago by incorporating some fish and poultry back into my diet as well. I was feeling so exhausted and like my tank was always running near empty no matter how much/healthy/plant-based sources of protein I was consuming (all things I try to be very conscious of). After a lot of soul-searching and some reluctance, I started adding chicken/fish to my lunches, and I too, haven’t felt this good in a while. My workouts are easier (or at least done with more energy, and I feel I have a brand-new reserve tank to pull from). I’m sleeping better, feeling fuller longer etc. etc. Although I don’t love the idea wholeheartedly, I can’t deny how much more in balance I feel. Maybe one day I will switch back, but for now, knowing someone else made the same decision makes me feel a bit better about my own.

  • Reply Jess @Nourished by Nutrition 24 March 2017 at 2:08 PM

    Aside from being the only sister, I bet you’re the favorite! All the delicious things you make (!) can you be my sister?! As for listen to your body I 100% support you. After years of restricting and be so caught up with having to fulfill the “vegan” label, I’ve been trying my best to tune in to my body and do a way with labels. It’s such a relief! You ROCK!! Keep doing what you do, lady! xx

  • Reply Valentina | The Blue Bride 24 March 2017 at 2:55 PM

    I couldn’t agree more about the listening-to-your-own-body-diet. I used to follow a vegan and gluten-free diet, which was supposed to make me feel the strongest gal in the world and look like a Holliwood star. Crap. I now eat sourdough almost every day, goat dairies and eggs and fish maybe once a week. And I feel better :D

  • Reply Karlie 24 March 2017 at 3:27 PM

    This is heaven <3 Homemade granola is one of my absolute favorite things. I wish I could get Jake to eat one.. but he's a bagel and cream cheese man for life. Looking forward to hearing your diet story! Always inspiring to heal how others are honoring their bods! xo

  • Reply Ella 25 March 2017 at 2:48 AM

    Can I ask what the purpose of boiling the maple syrup is? Is it to condense it? If so, if I use golden syrup, can I skip this step given it’s naturally thicker and stickier?

    Also, not sure if you want this feedback or not, but personally I would stop reading this blog if it introduced meat. I’m not out to start a fight about your choices, just a comment on my readership habits. I hope I can keep reading!

  • Reply Randle Browning 25 March 2017 at 6:49 AM

    Agh it’s so hard! I’ve been vegan now for 2.5 years, and yesterday at a basketball game I smelled a hot dog and…it smelled…good. I try to say I’ll eat animal products if I ever crave them or feel I’m missing out…but I didn’t think it would be a hot dog?? I didn’t end up having it but it got me thinking…cravings, man!

  • Reply Lily 25 March 2017 at 7:54 AM

    Gimme the clumpy granola! It’s my fave. Made this late last night with dried cherries – YUM. Also, it’s literally a boatload, so it looks like some friends will be getting granola from me. Thanks Ashlae!

  • Reply Hillary 25 March 2017 at 8:30 AM

    It’s in the oven right now! I went with 3/4 cup of maple syrup but stuck with 1/2 cup of oil. It looks perfectly clumpy and I can’t wait to dig in!

    Keep doing you, ladycakes. Your honesty and transparency is one of the reasons I keep coming back. ❤️

  • Reply Maya | Spice + Sprout 25 March 2017 at 8:53 AM

    I loved reading this post! I haven’t eaten meat since I was 10 years old, but I totally believe in everyone doing what is right for their bodies and it is awesome that you are feeling better :) I’ve actually been reconsidering my diet because I started weight training and I’ve been feeling tired and a bit weak lately… maybe like I need more protein. UGH. Anyways, looking forward to your running vs weights post and thanks for sharing this! <3 <3 <3

  • Reply Cassie 25 March 2017 at 9:02 AM

    You’re breaking my heart 💔 I get that you think you are doing what’s best for you but your decisions affect more than just yourself… no one had a chance to ask the birds what was best for them…

  • Reply Clara 25 March 2017 at 10:43 AM

    I’ve been a vegetarian (strict) for the past 6 years.
    3 days ago I had my first “boquerón” in vinegar after all this time…
    So…Im with u girl!!!

  • Reply Carrie 25 March 2017 at 11:56 AM

    I was a strict vegetarian for over a decade until late last year. My doctor spent years trying to convince me to eat meat but I was stubborn and thought I knew better. Eventually I got so desperate to feel like “me” again that I gave in and started consuming chicken from time to time. You know what? It drastically changed my quality of life. I have never felt better and still feel so silly for not listening to my doctor sooner.

    Every body truly has different needs and I am so happy to know that you are thriving on your new diet.

  • Reply Lauren Grant | Zestful Kitchen 27 March 2017 at 9:29 AM

    Loved reading what you had to say about listening to your body and its cravings. I’m a lot like you, my diet is 90% plant based with meat thrown in here and there. What works for one person won’t work for another, and I think it’s so important to remember that.

    Also, I love that this makes a “boat load”, because if I’m going to make granola, it better make enough to last me a while! Happy Monday!

  • Reply Heather@WillSingForDessert 29 March 2017 at 11:04 AM

    I absolutely love homemade granola and this looks just fantastic. I love how it’s naturally sweetened too. Kudos to you for feeling fantastic!

  • Reply Maja 30 March 2017 at 4:21 AM

    Granola is the one thing I’ll make on a at least bi-weekly basis. I’m the only one who’s eating it, and I’m pretty sure it’s the main reason why my pants are a bit too winter-snug , but WHO CARES?! I love this shit. Will try the letting it soak trick. Thanks babe.


  • Reply Lyndsay 31 March 2017 at 8:48 PM

    Lifting weights = craving animal protein makes so much damn sense. I will make you some delicious organic fried chicken buddy!!! I’m very pumped because I have most of these ingredients on hand so imma gonna make some granola this weekend … xo

  • Reply Chelsea @ Chelsea's Healthy Kitchen 1 April 2017 at 5:10 PM

    Grocery store rotisserie chickens are the flipping best! I’m convinced they’re the main reason I’m not vegetarian (well, those and sushi).

    I’ve been really getting into intuitive eating lately too. It’s crazy it’s not something I learned in my nutrition degree, but I’ve been learning about it on my own for the past few months so I can start using it with patients. It just makes so much SENSE.

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