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  • Catherine Myburgh

How to Make Perfect Oil-Free Granola

Nutty, healthy, crunchy and sweet granola clusters free from added sugars and oil.

There’s nothing better than a thick and creamy smoothie bowl topped with sweet and customisable crunchy-nut clusters. If you haven’t yet made home-made granola before, you really need to, it's so easy, delicious and way more healthier & affordable than any store-bought alternative.

When making granola, I recommend starting with a base of oats (sub gluten free oats or rice flakes if required), from there you can pretty much add anything.


  • Nuts: walnuts, hazelnuts, macadamias, almonds, cashews, quinoa etc.

  • Seeds: chia, hemp, pumpkin, sunflower, sesame, poppy seeds etc.

Sweet & Chewy:

  • Raisins/currants/sultanas, dried cranberries, goji berries, dried blueberries, chopped dates, roughly chopped dried apple/pear/pineapple/mango etc.


  • Chocolate chips, cocao nibs, coconut flakes etc.


  • 100% puffed rice/spelt/wheat, low sugar wholegrain cheerio’s, shredded wheat etc.

To make clusters, a sweet and sticky sauce is essential. If you prefer to cook oil-free or enjoy receiving the bulk of your fats from whole food sources I would definitely recommend the recipe below.

Banana-Nut Clusters

RECIPE | Bake time: 15 minutes at 180° C

Dry Ingredients:

  • 2 cups oats

  • ¼ cup desiccated coconut

  • ½ cup cashews

  • ½ cup almonds

  • ¼ cup sultanas

  • ¼ cup cranberries

  • 2 tsp. cinnamon

  • ¼ tsp. salt

Wet Ingredients

  • 1 ripe/spotty banana

  • ½ cup water

  • 1 tbsp. nut butter of choice

  • 2-3 dates (or sub honey/maple/agave syrup)

  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract


Preheat the oven to 180° C.

  1. Add all of the dry ingredients into a large mixing bowl, stir to combine.

  2. Add all the wet ingredients to a blender/food processor and blend until smooth.

  3. Pour the sauce over the dry ingredients and mix together, ensure that all the ingredients are well coated and combined.

  4. Pour the granola mixture onto a lined baking tray and bake in the oven for 10 minutes.

  5. Remove the granola from the oven (the granola should be a light golden colour on top at this stage), give it a good mix before placing back in the oven for a further 5 minutes to ensure even browning.

  6. Remove the golden granola clusters from the oven.

  7. Allow clusters to cool and crisp up before serving in bowls and topping with fruit, plant-based milk/yoghurt.

  8. Store the remaining granola in an airtight container/jar and enjoy throughout the week.

*Optional add 1-2 tbsp. of cocoa powder along with the wet ingredients to the blender and substitute the almonds and cashews with hazelnuts for a luxurious sweet chocolaty variation.

Feel free to play around with the spices: nutmeg, cardamom and ground ginger are also delicious additions.

This is a luxurious, sweet, crunchy and filling granola packed with heaps of nutty caramelised goodness. For a lighter breakfast alternative lower in fats and calories you may want to fill up half your bowl with granola and the other half with wholegrain puffed rice, shredded wheat or wholegrain wheat/rice flakes.

I personally enjoy and recommend the following:

- Rude Health: 100% puffed spelt, brown rice, oats and wheat as well as the 100% spelt flakes.

- *Weetabix (Weet-Bix, for South Africans), *Nestle Oat Cheerio’s (low sugar version), *Oatibix.

*these suggestions do contain some added sugars, but still less than 5g/100g.

A quick note on store-bought breakfast cereals, mueslis and granolas

First and foremost, when it comes to quick and easy breakfasts, nothing quite compares to breakfast cereals or granola. These options are undeniably yum, sweet & simple and do NOT need to be cut out of a healthy and balanced diet. But some aspects are definitely worth noting:

✗ As delicious as they might be, store bought cereals are notorious for being high in free sugars and relatively low in protein.

✗ Although marketed as ‘healthy’, store bought granolas are often high in both saturated fats and sugars.

✗ Say no to flavoured instant oats. Rather opt for original unflavoured rolled/quick oats and flavour them yourself with fruit, cinnamon, cocoa powder, good quality protein powders etc.

✗ The serving sizes wtf!? I’d last half an hour max on a 30g serving of Special K.

Okay, so does this mean that cereal should be avoided? NO, absolutely NOT!

✓ Most cereals are high in fibre and low in saturated fats.

✓ Cereals are usually fortified with heaps of essential vitamins and minerals such as niacin (B3), folate (B9), riboflavin (B2), thiamine (B1), methyl cobalamin (B12), vitamin D and iron.

✓ Ensure to read food labels and compare brands, some cereals are naturally higher in fibre and lower in sugar (i.e. < 5g of sugar/100g serving).

✓ Consume cereals higher in fats & sugars in moderation or try my half and half method i.e. fill up half of your bowl with coco pops and the other half with unsweetened wholegrain puffed brown rice, or half honey nut clusters and the other half rolled oats etc.

✓ Make it MORE & jazz it up!

i. Serve cereals low in protein with Greek yoghurt, soy alternatives or protein milk (mix a good quality protein powder with water or milk and use that instead of low protein plant-based milks).

ii. If your cereal is low in fats, add some extra nuts, peanut butter and seeds for additional mono and polyunsaturated fats.

iii. Add extra fruits for additional fibre, sweetness and antioxidants.

✓ Try making healthier home-made alternatives for granolas, clusters and mueslis (see Nutty Granola recipe below).

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