by: Victoria Frosini, MS, CPT

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She earned her Master’s of Science degree in Nutrition and Dietetics in 2013, where she conducted extensive research in weight loss, social support and cognitive behavioral therapy.

Orange Infused Pumpkin Seed Granola with Toasted Coconut

Can Granola Be Healthy?

Here’s the thing: granola is pretty addicting and it makes sense why. Traditional packaged recipes have loads of fructose, concentrated sugar from dried fruits, and saturated fats from palm or hydrogenated vegetable oil. Not to mention the taste and texture is almost impossible to resist; it’s crunchy, sweet, salty, & easy to snack on.

We love this granola because it’s jam packed with fiber and plant protein, hosts super healthy fat from the nut and seed combo, and boasts a terrific flavor profile from the orange infused maple syrup.

Why Texture Matters

The sensory experience of eating plays an integral role in the pleasurability of food and contributes to our food intake. Our taste receptors recognize five categories within food: salty, sweet, bitter, sour and umami. In addition to taste sensor stimulation, texture is thought to influence our satisfaction from food. (Think about the addictive nature of crunchy chips or the cooling satisfaction from a thick milkshake). As you begin to prep and cook more foods at home, you’ll notice that real food tastes different than processed food. Food’s taste and texture is an indication of quality and freshness.

This granola is noticeably less sweet than commercial brands. By using just ¼ cup maple syrup and eliminating dried fruits we drastically reduce the sugar content without sacrificing taste. You’ll notice the orange zest is fragrant and slightly floral. The gently baked pumpkin seeds are crunchy and crisp; the walnuts are slightly sweet. Adding the coconut in the last stage of baking releases the essential oils from the coconut meat, allowing it to caramelize without burning.


Sensory influences on food intake control: moving beyond palatability. Etiology and Pathophysiology  K. McCrickerd1,2 and C. G. Forde1,2,3. doi: 10.1111/obr.12340

Impact of obesity on taste receptor expression in extra-oral tissues: emphasis on hypothalamus and brainstem. Scientific Reports 6, Article number: 29094 (2016) doi:10.1038/srep29094

Smart Tip:

Pumpkin seeds are a nutritional powerhouse. This superfood is extremely rich in magnesium, a coenzyme that facilitates metabolic and physiological reactions in the body. Pumpkin seeds are high in zinc and manganese minerals, and also contain a wide variety of bioavailable forms of vitamin E which is a powerful antioxidant.

Orange Infused Pumpkin Seed Granola with Toasted Coconut



  • 2 cups gluten free oats
  • 1 tsp salt
  • ½ tsp cinnamon
  • ½ cup raw pumpkin seeds
  • ½ cup raw walnuts
  • ¼ cup maple syrup
  • 1 tbsp orange zest (the zest of one medium orange)
  • 2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 cup unsweetened coconut


  • Preheat the oven to 340 degrees.
  • In a large mixing bowl stir together oats, salt, and cinnamon.
  • Add raw pumpkin seeds and walnuts to oat mixture and set aside.
  • In a small saucepan combine olive oil, maple syrup, and orange zest. Gently simmer until the “orange syrup” is warm and fragrant. (3-5 minutes)
  • Add the oat and nut mixture to the orange infused maple syrup. Stir to incorporate.
  • The mixture should glisten and look slightly wet.
  • Using a baking sheet, spread the granola mixture into a single layer.
  • Bake for 10 minutes.
  • Rotate baking sheet and mix the granola, moving crispy edges away from the outside of the baking sheet.
  • Add 1 cup of shredded coconut and continue baking for an additional 10 minutes.
  • Cool completely allowing the granola to form clusters.
  • Serve ¼ cup of granola with greek yogurt, almond yogurt or dairy of choice. Use as a topping for fruit parfaits, ice cream, or as a stand alone snack!

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