Nora’s MAD About Granola!

Last week we took Nora’s ratio down to 2.5:1 and she is still doing great! We are getting ready to go back to North Dakota and Minnesota to visit friends and family for the first time since starting the diet, so we stepped her down a little earlier than scheduled so that we could get a good 10 days of 2.5:1 under our belt before traveling.

Traveling, especially air travel, feels like a big hurdle. We’ve been analyzing our list of regular foods to figure out what we need to pack, what we can shop for on arrival, and how to keep it simple yet appealing for Nora. Interestingly, we have noticed that bringing up her carbs has made us rely on heavy cream even more even though she is getting slightly less total fat. There are very few whole foods that have both carbs and significant fat (pretty much just kalamata olives). So for every extra serving of carbs, she still needs 2.5 g of fat on the side. We didn’t realize it at the time, but changing the ratio was easier when we were adding protein because protein foods (think cheese) usually have fat in them. Even small adjustments have changed the meal planning landscape.

Now, on to granola:

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In these years of keto cooking I’ve come across a few paleo-granola recipes and always thought I should make some for Nora. However, I always hesitated because I couldn’t imagine putting in any honey or dried fruits when she was more carb-restricted, so any recipe that worked for her would have amounted to a pile of crunchy nuts. Maybe not worth the effort when she eats plenty of raw nuts already.

IMG_4894Now that she gets 25 grams of carbs per day (remember when it was 10 g of carbs per day…for almost 2 years?), I threw one of the paleo-granola recipes into my recipe analyzer website and saw my opportunity. Nora is now eating dried currants and honey! It’s just a bit, but they are in there. And this granola is so very delicious, with just a hint of sweetness, that it is much more than a pile of crunchy nuts. It is at 2.1:1 ratio, so just a bit of extra fat brings her to 2.5:1. It will be highly packable and a very “normal” breakfast on our trip. Nora also loves it! She asked for granola instead of popcorn when she watched a movie with friends recently and keeps suggesting it as a snack option. As she says, it’s like cereal, only better!

I would recommend this recipe for anyone doing MAD, low-carb, gluten-free, paleo (is this recipe paleo? I can’t keep track, decide or modify for yourself). I’ve been eating it for breakfast with my kefir too. I went back to the commercial granola this morning for comparison and preferred the homemade granola because it was more flavorful and crunchy, and not as sweet. Nora has had it for breakfast daily with full-fat plain Greek yogurt, heavy cream, and a few fresh blueberries, formulated for a 2.5:1 ratio.

If you or your child are on a high-ratio strict ketogenic diet, this batch-process might not be appropriate for you. You may still be able to make granola, but you will want to divide the ingredients down into individual servings so that you know exactly how much carb, protein and fat is served at one time. When I take 20 g of granola out of the batch, I don’t know if Nora is getting 3 or 7 currants in her breakfast. I only eyeball it to make sure I’m getting a spoonful of granola with a reasonable mix of nuts and currants. At this point I’m confident that the difference won’t matter for her, but back when we were striving for seizure control and counting the days and months of seizure-freedom I would not have taken chances with it. Alternatively, I think you could leave out the currants and be more confident that any serving taken from the batch is approximately equivalent in carbs because the honey is equally distributed.

Actually, you can completely revamp this recipe any way you like, as long as you keep the general proportions the same. This is my 2nd version of granola. The first time I used dried cranberries instead of currants and slivered almonds instead of pecans. I also included sunflower seeds in that batch, and less coconut. The first time, I basically pulled all of the nuts and dried fruits out of my cupboard and used what I had on hand. In this version, I bought the ingredients that I needed to make it lower carb and higher fat.

I know that most people won’t have brown rice protein powder in the cupboard, and it is not essential to the recipe. It’s been hanging out in our cupboard since Nora’s MAD days, when I was trying to cram more protein into everything I made for her. Now I want to use it up! Go ahead and experiment with what you like, but remember that if you are keeping close track of nutritional information you will have to analyze your recipe accordingly. The nutritional facts given here are specific to these ingredients and to be used as a reference only. Nutritional facts for the whole batch are given, and please see the note on nutritional information at the end of the post for more details.

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Nutritional information in one whole batch of MAD About Granola. See below for individual serving nutritional information. Analysis by http://caloriecount.about.com

MAD About Granola
200 g (1-2/3 cup) walnuts
200 g (1-2/3 cup) pecans
100 g (3/4 cup) macadamia nuts
50 g (2/3 cup) zante currants
50 g (1/2 cup) Bob’s Red Mill golden flaxseed
30 g (1/3 cup) unsweetened shredded coconut
10 g (1 Tbsp) brown rice protein powder
30 g (1 large) egg white, lightly beaten
30 g (2 Tbsp) water
40 g (3 Tbsp) coconut oil
40 g (2 Tbsp) honey
5 g (1 tsp) vanilla extract
1 g (1/2 tsp) ground cinnamon
1 g (1/4 tsp) salt

Preheat the oven to 200 degrees F and line a baking sheet or roasting pan with parchment paper or a silicone baking mat.

f1829440Measure the whole nuts and currants and pulse in a blender or food processor to chop the nuts, but don’t grind them into a fine meal. Pour into a large mixing bowl. You will get some nut dust, which is ok. If there are any nuts that are nearly whole, pull them out and chop down to smaller pieces. Everything should be coarsely chopped. Next, measure the flaxseed, coconut and protein powder (if using) and add to the chopped nuts. Combine well.

In another mixing bowl, whisk together the egg white with the water until bubbly and slightly foamy.

In a microwave-safe bowl, melt the coconut oil. Measure and whisk in the honey, vanilla extract, cinnamon and salt. The cinnamon makes it look dark, as in the photo. Add this to the egg/water mixture and whisk well. Use a rubber spatula to be scrape all of the mixture out of the bowl.

Combine the wet and dry ingredients, stirring everything well to make sure it is all coated. The mixture should be evenly moist but not pooling liquid on the bottom of the bowl. The liquid will pick up all of the small loose bits and bind them together, which is just what we are looking for.

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Spread the granola mixture evenly on the parchment or silicone mat-lined baking sheet or roasting pan and bake for at least 60 minutes, stirring after 20 minutes, and again after 40 minutes. After the last stir I pressed the mixture firmly into the pan so that chunks could bake together. Turn off the heat and let the granola sit inside the oven until cool. I waited several hours. I made it in the morning and did the hour of low baking, then took it out of the oven in the evening after dinner. The granola will continue to dry and form clusters in that time.

Use a spatula to gently break the granola into clusters. Some loose bits will also break off. It’s all good. Transfer everything to a 2-quart sealable glass jar, or any airtight container to keep it fresh.

Nutritional information note: Notice from the nutritional information that the raw measured ingredients add up to 787 grams before cooking. After cooking, the whole batch weighed 710 grams. Typically baked goods lose about 10% of their weight by volume when the moisture cooks out of the food, which is true here as well. That means that you get more carbs, protein and fat per gram of cooked food because only the water weight disappears. When you calculate the nutrition per cooked serving in a batch like this, you have to divide by the cooked weight to get accurate nutritional data.

For every 1 g of cooked granola in this recipe, there are:
Carbs: 0.13 g
Protein: 0.15 g
Fat: 0.58 g
Fiber: 0.09 g

Add that up, and you get 0.97 g of macronutrients in 1 g of granola. We can infer that there is 0.03 g of water left too. Math and science at work!

In a 20 g serving typical for Nora, a scant 1/4 cup, this recipe has:
Carbs: 2.64 g
Protein: 2.91 g
Fat: 11.66 g
Fiber: 1.86 g
127 calories
2.1:1 ratio

Enjoy! Inspiration for this recipe from: http://www.theroastedroot.net/paleo-granola/ and http://againstallgrain.com/2012/01/29/grain-free-scd-paleo-vanilla-granola/. But just google paleo granola and you will find many more! Try it and you will never go back to commercial granola or cereal!

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This entry was posted in Nora's History, Recipes by Christy Anderson Brekken. Bookmark the permalink.

About Christy Anderson Brekken

In no particular order... Instructor and Researcher, Department of Applied Economics, Oregon State University. Educational background: University of MN Law School, 2005. MS in Ag and Resource Economics, Oregon State University, 2011. Teaches: Agricultural Law, Environmental Law. Mother: brilliant 9 year old boy; brilliant 6 year old girl with benign myoclonic epilepsy on a modified ketogenic diet therapy. Married to: Ted Brekken, OSU Department of Electrical Engineering. Ride: Xtra-cycle Edgerunner with kid seat; 400-pound cargo capacity. Grew up: Devils Lake, ND. Lived in: Minneapolis/St. Paul, MN, Pohang, South Korea, Trondheim, Norway, Corvallis, OR. Interests: Cooking, knitting, eating, yoga, laughing, hiking, traveling, staying sane.

11 thoughts on “Nora’s MAD About Granola!

    • Lourdes,

      Yes, Nora has been tested for the SCN1A mutation, as well as a very general low-resolution test for any genetic abnormalities. Neither test found any abnormalities. We have it in the back of our minds that someday we may get together with the few other families and kids of similar experience to Nora — drug-resistant myoclonics with fairly normal cognitive development — and see if we can get more detailed testing to try to find some commonality.

      Ted

      • Hi Ted,

        My daughter Ngaire is 10 now and she and Nora have exchanged a few emails in the past. I think Ngaire owes Nora an email. Ngaire’s had a few genetic tests done in the past, but nothing in the last 5 years. We’d be interested in participating if you ever did get a project like this going. Ngaire is still not seizure free, however her seizures have changed to being tonic clonics every few months from the myoclonics that she had frequently as a toddler and pre-schooler. Thank you and Christie for your blog and efforts. Its amazing to read about Nora’s journey and hear that she has been seizure-free for so long and is growing and developing so well.

        • Sorry for the long delay; looks like this comment got stuck in the spam filter.

          Thanks for letting us know; we’ll keep in touch if anything ever moves forward with this. Clearly there is a lack of data on kids like Ngaire and Nora.

          Hang in there. Ted

        • Hi Chau, sorry again for the long delay! I see that Ted replied too. I just wanted to let you know that Nora brought up Ngaire the other day. We have been corresponding with another family that just started on the diet and when we brought that up, Nora wondered if we were talking about Ngaire. I’ll try to encourage her to write again! Although she wants to be an author, she really seems to struggle to write letters to her grandparents and cousins…the middle school “awkward” syndrome, by her admission 🙂

    • http://caloriecount.about.com/

      It’s not obvious from the front page, but if you sign up to start tracking foods (I don’t use it for daily meal tracking, but you could), there is a “recipe analyzer” function that lets you plug in foods from their database (some brand names, some generic items such as fresh fruits, etc.), select number of servings and to see portion sizes, etc. I hope it it helpful.

  1. I have skimmed a few of your posts here and am excited to read that you were able to increase carb intake. My little guy was (FINALLY) diagnosed with a Glut1 Deficiency and we have begun MAD. 10g of net carbs is so little. Haha. We’ve been eating Paleo for a while now, but this is a pretty major change. He has very clearly been getting some glucose to his brain so he isn’t suffering as severely as many others. I am hopeful that once we get the diet well established we can increase the carb intake. For being only 4 years old, he is being really understanding of all of this.

    • Hi Meghan,

      We’ve been in contact with some other Glut1 families and that is a tough one, but also so good to know the cause. Nora still loves this granola and eats it every day with 1/2 and 1/2, even though we’ve liberalized her diet a lot. It’s a keeper! I’m feeling bad that I haven’t posted anything for awhile, so I’m planning on a little catch-up post and a muffin recipe that she has really liked too. It is amazing how understanding and resilient kids are. I feel like I can trust Nora to make good choices now that she is 7. It definitely helps when the kids are on board and know it matters!

      Best to you,
      Christy

  2. Thanks for all these helpful posts. I have twins both with aspergers but one has epilepsy also. He has been uncontrolled to some extent since diagnosed 4 years ago and we are waiting for our glut 1 deficiency test results, will know in October. He has generalised absence epilepsy with a myoclonic jerk. We are plant based diet as they are dairy intolerant and do not wish to eat meat etc. I have reduced sugar and removed most additives in the last few years and cook 90% or more of our meals. I am planning on adapting our diet over the next few weeks to reduce sugar etc more even in just some recipes so if we do need to change his diet of will not be so hard. Eating can be a major sticking point with him, he starved himself before when smaller except for breakfast as he didn’t like the food we were eating. He has learned that eating well and exercising and sleeping is his job to help him managed his epilepsy but it doesn’t always work. He’s 9yrs old too .

    • Hi Lisa, it sounds like you are doing a great job of exploring ways to help your son. It’s so hard, especially for an older child. I personally liked the ease-in approach as well, and a big part of diet success is compliance, so it sounds like an ease-in approach is wise for your son as well. When you start thinking this way, it is actually not so hard once you get over the first big learning curve. Without dairy, you can substitute coconut milk or other nut-based milks in the recipes. If you get to the point where you want to boost fat, you will have to add more coconut oil or other healthy fats instead of butter (but you are probably well aware of that if you have been dairy free for some time!)
      It’s great news that your son understands that eating well, exercising, and sleeping well are helping him. It’s important to have that motivation for him and for you. If you start to see better results, hopefully that motivation becomes even stronger. But it sure helps to have a lot of foods that he likes, so start experimenting! Macadamia nuts could be your new best friend 🙂
      Christy

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