Whole Wheat Cinnamon Rolls

I’m feeling a bit hypocritical today.  I’m sitting here listening to an awesome lecture on raw foods and learning about the healing properties of super foods like reishi mushrooms, grass powder and maca, and I’m giving you another baked goods recipe (and taste testing it myself).

But I assume we’re all baking this time of year anyway, and if we can make it slightly healthier with less refined sugar and white flour, then that’s at least a small step in the right direction.  Right?

And of course, there’s nothing wrong with indulging every now and then, as long as the majority of what goes into our bodies is moving us toward better health.  Our bodies have a remarkable ability to handle the junk that we occasionally fill it up with.

So, here’s what I was baking yesterday:

Sticky buns? Cinnamon rolls? I couldn’t decide, so these are a cross between the two.  I grew up with sticky buns in PA Dutch country, but have since realized there is a difference between sticky buns and cinnamon rolls.

I decided to make these ahead and freeze them for Christmas morning.  Maybe we’ll add scrambled eggs on the side to add some protein and avoid sending our blood sugar into overdrive. :)

I wanted to experiment with coconut oil, honey, whole wheat flour and almond flour.  You could also use unsalted organic butter and white flour.

This is a yeast bread, so it takes some time to rise.  I haven’t found a good shortcut recipe, unless you use a store-bought dough, but then you have to be careful with the additives and preservatives… and the homemade ones are always better. It’s a labor of love.

Whole Wheat Sticky Buns (print recipe)

  • 2 1/4 tsp dry yeast, or one package
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • 1/2 c. warm water
  • 2 Tbsp melted coconut oil or butter
  • 1/2 c. almond milk, or cow’s milk
  • 1/3 c. maple syrup or sugar
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp nutmeg
  • 1 1/2 c. whole wheat flour
  • 1 c. almond meal (or bread or all purpose white flour)
  • additional flour up to 1/2 c. flour
  • 2 tsp cinnamon + 2 Tbsp maple syrup or sugar, combined in a small bowl
  • 1/2 c. walnuts or pecans

For syrup:

  • 1 Tbsp melted coconut oil
  • 1/3 c. honey
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • dash cinnamon
  • 1/2 c. raisins or chopped figs

Dissolve yeast in sugar and warm water (100-110 degrees) in a large bowl and let stand 5 minutes (should be foaming/frothy).  Stir in melted coconut oil, milk, maple syrup and whole wheat flour.  Sift additional white flour or almond meal with salt and nutmeg and add to the dough, sitrring until a soft dough forms.  Knead lightly a few minutes adding additional flour as needed until smooth and elastic (should be slightly sticky but not wet).  Place dough in a large greased bowl, turning once to grease the top, then cover and let rise one hour, or until doubled.

Punch down and let rest for five minutes.  Combine cinnamon and maple syrup or sugar in a small bowl.  Roll dough out into a 12×16 inch rectangle on a floured surface. Optional: brush with 1 Tbsp melted oil or butter if desired.  Spread with cinnamon sugar mixture.  Roll up, starting with the long edge, pressing to eliminate air pockets.  Cut into 12-14 slices.

Grease a 9×13 pan and sprinkle chopped nuts on the bottom.

Prepare syrup by combining coconut oil, honey, vanilla, cinnamon and raisins and drizzle it over the nuts.  Place dough slices cut side up in the pan.  Cover with a damp towel and let rise again about 30 minutes, or until doubled in size.

Bake at 375 in a preheated oven for 18-20 minutes or until golden.


I’d like to start sharing “nutrition nuggets” on Wednesday’s WIAW posts…something I’m learning, reading, processing, whatever.  We’re researching raw food diets this week and are encouraged to experiment with some of the theories… should be fun.

Quick note for my running friends: Many of you have seen Miss Zippy’s 2012 survey questions, asking for a recap of your year.  I’ll share mine later this week, and will also have a link up for anyone else to link up their recap of 2012, either using Amanda’s questions or something else you’ve written. I’d love to read yours!

Do you know the difference between sticky buns and cinnamon rolls? What are your Christmas morning traditions?

54 thoughts on “Whole Wheat Cinnamon Rolls

  1. Omg, I love cinnamon rolls! We actually usually make those and/ or pop overs on Christmas morning, although we usually just make the cinnamon rolls out of the can…I dont know if I am talented or ambitious enough to make these, but I am going to print the recipe and hope for the best! :)
    Sarah (Shh…Fit Happens) recently posted..A Day of QuietnessMy Profile

  2. I don’t think you’re hypocritical at all. It’s about balance right, and this is a special time of year. We have to have some fun with it. My grandmother made the most delicious cinnamon rolls, but I never learned to make them, and my mom doesn’t make them. Your recipe looks like a great healthy version. I would love to try it. I really like your idea of freezing them for Christmas morning. We like to have a special breakfast, but the kids want help opening packages so it’s hard to do both sometimes. :)
    Joann @ Woman in Real Life recently posted..What I Ate Wednesday, with a greenish smoothieMy Profile

  3. I have no idea the difference between the two. I always called it cinnamon buns. Looks amazing! Cinnamon buns on Christmas morning sounds perfect. May attempt these! I always try to ‘healthify’ recipes. Something’s better than nothing right?
    Angela @ Happy Fit Mama recently posted..Street FoodMy Profile

  4. These sound really yummy. I’ve been wanting to do a cinnamon bread in my bread maker lately to satisfy a craving for more sinful rolls. This might be a nice compromise.

    I love having pancakes and eggs on Christmas morning after opening presents. Now that I’m an adult I sometimes even want the breakfast before opening gifts.
    Raquelita recently posted..Year in Review: Running in 2012My Profile

  5. These look great! I think the difference between sticky buns and cinnamon rolls is that sticky buns have a sauce on the bottom?? MAYBE. I don’t know. Haha. Great recipe! I love making homemade cinnamon rolls for my brother. I usually make a baking powder, quick version because everyone seems to like the taste of those better.

    • Yes- I think you’re right about the syrup/sauce on the bottom, and then you invert them and have gooey sticky buns. Otherwise, they are cinnamon rolls…
      I need to experiment more with quick bread versions, I only tried one and it didn’t turn out so well.
      Laura recently posted..Whole Wheat Cinnamon RollsMy Profile

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  8. My mother always made sticky cinnamon rolls with no frosting. I come from a family of amazing cooks. My aunts grew up on farms and were fabulous bakers and cooks and my mother was outstanding, too. I managed to pass my kitchen knowledge on to our daughter who is a great cook and baker, too, and she tries to make healthy recipes.

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