Starring iron-rich plant foods such as amaranth and cashews, this granola recipe is the perfect way to kick-start the day.
- B Breakfast
- GF Gluten free
- Ve Vegan
- IR Iron-rich
- Prep time 10 mins
- Cook Time 60 mins
- Serves 8
- Difficulty medium
- For the granola base, drain the soaked nuts and seeds and dry well with a clean tea towel or paper towel. Then spread them across a baking tray lined with baking paper.
- Set your oven to 150°C (130°C fan-forced) and, while you wait for it to come to temperature, pop in your baking tray of nuts and seeds so they dry out a bit more.
- Place the dates in a large bowl and top with the boiled water. Let them soak up the water for around 5 minutes.
- Add the nut spread and oil to the soaked dates and mix to form a smooth paste. Mix in the maple syrup, then the cinnamon and vanilla.
- Once the oven has reached temperature, remove nuts and seeds and add them to another bowl along with the dried apricots and amaranth. Mix well.
- Pour this mixture into the syrup and stir to combine, ensuring the dry ingredients are well coated.
- Spread the granola evenly over two lined baking trays. Bake for 50-60 minutes turning the granola over on the tray every 10 minutes to allow for even toasting.
- Once toasted, remove from the oven and allow to cool completely at room temperature. Once cooled, store in an airtight glass jar. Tip: the granola will look soft when it comes out of the oven so be patient as it cools and firms up.
By Jean Hailes Naturopath Sandra Villella
Amaranth was chosen as the base for this granola as it is one of the richest sources of iron from plants. Iron is important for healthy blood and a healthy immune system. You can buy puffed amaranth from health food stores or speciality grocery stores.
Amaranth is also what’s known as a ‘pseudo-grain’. Pseudo-grains often look like grains (such as wheat, rice and barley) and can be used in cooking in a similar way, but they have a much higher protein content.
In fact, the protein content of amaranth is higher than any other grain and close to the quality of animal protein. Amaranth is also gluten-free and safe for people with coeliac disease.
Cashews are included in this recipe as they are the nut with the highest iron content, followed by almonds. Dried apricots also provide additional iron.
Iron from animal sources (such as red meat and chicken) is generally absorbed well by the body. But when it comes to absorbing iron from plant sources, there are a few things to know. A substance called ‘phytate’ or ‘phytic acid’ that is naturally present in seeds, nuts and wholegrains can decrease iron uptake by the body. But soaking these foods and discarding the water – as I do in this recipe – reduces the phytates.
Another good way to increase iron absorption from plant sources is to combine them with vitamin C. This can enhance absorption up to six-fold in people who have low iron stores, so serve this granola with some vitamin C-rich fruit such as kiwi or strawberries.
Calcium-rich foods were once considered to decrease iron absorption from plant sources if eaten together. But recent research suggests that overall calcium has a limited effect on iron absorption, so you can serve this granola with a good-quality yoghurt.