I’ve recently been doing more reading on the effects of higher fat consumption leading to diabetes. This process is complex and involves numerous mechanisms, one of which includes excess fat being deposited in the muscle, liver, and pancreas. When fat is deposited in the muscle, it interferes with insulin signaling and blocks entry of glucose (sugar) from the blood. Fat deposits in the liver and pancreas lead to dysfunction of these organs, resulting in greater unnecessary glucose production by the liver and failure of insulin production from the pancreas.

Additionally, I found that my own LDL (bad cholesterol) had been creeping up over the past couple of years, despite avoiding animal proteins and processed foods. When I began to track my macronutrient intake, I found that 35-40% of my calories were coming from fat. Despite the fact that plant-based polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fats can have health benefits, these really should account for no more than 20% of our diets in order to prevent and reverse chronic diseases.

This information inspired me to create this high fiber, high protein, low fat granola cluster recipe with no oil. I’ve had some difficulty in the past creating crispy crunchy granola when I’ve omitted oil. Additionally, the oil can act as a binder the keep the clusters together. This recipe turned out deliciously perfect with the only wet ingredients being some unsweetened applesauce and a little maple syrup for sweetness. These clusters are a great snack by themselves, but are also great crumbled on top of a smoothie bowl or topped with a little bit of milk and eaten for breakfast.


  • 1 1/2 cups old fashioned rolled oats (do not use instant)
  • 1 1/2 cups steel cut oats
  • 1/2 cup buckwheat groats (you can find these at most specialty grocery stores or online)
  • 1/4 cup raw pumpkin seeds
  • 1/4 cup raw sunflower seeds
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon (can omit or substitute apple pie or pumpkin spice blend)
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1/3 cup unsweetened applesauce
  • 1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons pure maple syrup

** Wet and dry ingredients can be substituted, but ratio should stay constant, 1/2 cup wet to 3 cups dry


  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees
  • Mix all dry ingredients in a large bowl
  • Stir in wet ingredients (can start with 1/4 cup maple syrup and add more as needed to keep moist)
  • Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper
  • Spread mixture thinly and evenly over parchment paper
  • Bake on top rack for 15-20 minutes, rotating after 10 minutes to ensure even cooking and avoid burning
  • Move to middle rack and continue to bake for a total of 30-40 minutes until golden brown (sometimes edges may get a little burnt)
  • Let cool for 30-60 minutes. While the granola may initially be soft, it tends to crisp as it cools
  • After mixture cools, store in air tight container
Golden brown out of the oven