Since winter is in full swing all I want to do is snuggle up in my Pajamas and Ugg boots with a warm bowl of Crunchy Orange, Chocolate and Coconut Granola.
Something about this mixture gives me that snug, comforting, nostalgic feeling with flash backs to eating Terry’s Orange Chocolate when I was a kid (and not vegan).
This granola has just the right balance of flavours and spices using cardamom, nutmeg, and cloves that will warm you up from the inside. The aroma of winter will entice your senses as you bake this Crunchy Orange, Chocolate and Coconut Granola with its delicious smells that you can almost taste. All three of these spices are not just used for their delectable flavours, but commonly were used in folk medicine for their natural therapeutic properties to the common cold, reduction in inflammation, relief from digestive problems, stabilising blood sugar levels, and boosting the immune system.
This granola uses freshly squeezed oranges that provide it with that natural sweetness and fresh taste, as well as providing the body with numerous health benefits. Whilst, the consumption of vitamin C from oranges, which are a rich source, has not been proven to be able to treat the common cold (there goes drinking a litre of orange juice when you get the sniffles), there has been research conducted that demonstrates the benefits of vitamin C. This micronutrient has the ability to improve the immune response to the common cold, as well as reduce the duration and severity of the symptoms of the cold if consumed consistently and in adequate doses prior to encountering the infection (hint hint make a HUGE batch of Crunchy Orange, Chocolate and Coconut Granola).
Vitamin C has many other wonderful and essential roles that lead to the efficient functioning of our bodies that keeps us bouncing out of bed each morning ready to take on the day. Vitamin C (aka Ascorbic Acid), consumed in adequate amounts, has been discovered to enhance the absorption of ferrous iron, which is essential for our haemoglobin to transport oxygen effectively around the body. Ok, you might be thinking that sounds like gibbly gook to you, but let me break this down.
Iron is an essential mineral that has a key role in transporting oxygen around the body. If there is a deficiency in iron then you will not be able to produce an abundant amount of this healthy oxygen carrying red blood cells that is taken through from your lungs to your tissues. Basically, if this deficiency occurs and especially to a severe degree, this equals badness and could lead to anaemia resulting in fatigue, lowered immune system, lack of concentration, increased risk of infections, and many other symptoms that I am sure you wish to avoid.
The RDI of dietary iron for an adult women is 18mg/day and 8mg/day for males. This may not seem like a lot, however, statistically women, and especially those consuming a plant based diet have a higher rate of encountering iron deficiency due to the fact that heme iron (from animal sources) has a higher absorption level up to 18%, compared to non-heme (plant based sources) that absorbs only up to 12% by the human body. I am not saying that you should now go out and start munching on a huge T-Bone steak, however, to increase the awareness to incorporating higher quality non-heme sources into the diet such as legumes, nuts, fortified breads and grains, vegetables, and seeds. In this Crunchy Orange, Chocolate and Coconut Granola I have included four different sources of iron that will be able to assist you in meeting your RDI of iron with every crunchy mouthful. Depending upon the brand of rolled oats you use this provides on average 3mg/100g, Sunflower Seeds contain approximately 5.2mg/100g, Chia seeds contain 6.4mg/100g, and Pepita Seeds provide a whopping 8.82mg/100g.
This now circles back around to the amazing effect that vitamin C has upon increasing the absorption of non-heme iron, determined to elevate the absorption levels in proportional amounts to the dose of vitamin C consumed. I won’t get into the nitty gritty details, however, from the research, there has been a significant increase of non-heme iron bioavailability when this has been paired with a rich source of vitamin C in a single meal, even from 50mg of vitamin C per meal, which can easily be obtained from one medium navel orange that encompasses approximately 80mg of vitamin C alone!
Now you may be wondering why vitamin C has this positive effect on iron absorption and increasing the bioavailability in the body, well this has to do with vitamin C counteracting the inhibitory effects of dietary tannins and phytates that are found present in items such as wheat, cereals, coffee, tea, and wine that block the absorption of iron in the intestines (1, 2, 3).
This may raise the question of rolled oats and cacao. You might be thinking ‘don’t they contain phytates in them that can reduce my iron absorption and now I am not going to have healthy oxygen carrying red blood cells floating through my body?!’ Well, not to worry because rolled oats actually have their bran removed during the rolling process (which contains the phytic acid), and during the processing of cacao seeds to cacao powder which are fermented this reduces the phytic acid (4,5).
So luckily your iron stores are safe here with this Crunchy Orange, Chocolate and Coconut Granola recipe that not only contains many great sources of non-heme iron, but also rich source of vitamin C. But remember to try to hold off on having a cup of steaming coffee or tea with it, but rather savour this bowl of granola to really enjoy it’s full flavour and let the vitamin C work it’s magic!
Vegan, Dairy Free, Refined Sugar Free
Preparation & Cooking Time
10 minutes prep time
50 minutes cooking time
20 minute standing time
- 585 grams of rolled oats (gluten free optional)
- 100 grams pepitas
- 100 grams sunflower seeds
- 45 grams of chia seeds
- 1/3 cup of desiccated coconut
- Juice of 2 medium sized oranges
- 2/3 cup of maple syrup
- 2 tablespoons of coconut oil
- 4 teaspoon of cacao powder
- 2 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon powder
- 1 teaspoon of vanilla essence
- 1 teaspoon of ground cloves
- 1 reaspoon nutmeg
- 1 teaspoon cardamom
- pinch of salt
- 1 x large mixing bowl
- 2 x mixing spoons
- 1 x small sized pot
- 1 x measuring spoon
- 1 x measuring cup
- 1 x large oven tray
- 1 x sheet of baking paper
- 1 x juicer
- Preheat the oven to 160 degrees celsius
- Mix all dry ingredients together in a large mixing bowl
- In a small saucepan over medium to low heat, warm the coconut oil and rice malt syrup until it has melted. Remove this from heat and add in the orange juice, cacao powder, cinnamon powder, nutmeg, cardamom, ground cloves, and pinch of cloves. Once these have mixed together well pour this over the dry ingredients and mix well so all of this is covered
- Spread the mixture evenly onto a large baking sheet and bake for 45 minutes, stirring every 5-10 minutes to make sure that it is evenly cooked and it does not burn. The coconut oil will help the granola crisp nicely, but it also browns quite quickly as well.
- After 45 minutes add 1/3 cup of desiccated coconut to the mixture stirring through. Let this bake for a further 5 minutes
- Once the entire mixture of granola is visibly brown, remove from the oven and let it cool down.
- Store this in the pantry in air-tight sealed jars. This can be stored for a few weeks, that is if you can manage to stop yourself from devouring it!
- Feel free to play around with the recipe by adding in different ingredients such as cashews, cranberries, raisins, cranberries, etc
- Feel free to interchange the oats for buckwheat groats, oats groats, or even quinoa flakes