April 15, 2009

Healthy Granola

Granola is typically a mixture of rolled oats, nuts, and fruit, which is then baked or toasted. When it is not baked, it is called muesli. I remember when granola first made the scene, it was kind of a "hippie" food, and traditional families tended to push it aside while reaching for the Cocoa Puffs and Super Sugar Smacks.

Slowly granola became a popular alternative to the cocoa-frosted sugar bombs. Now you would think granola is a rare commodity, as it costs $3.00 or more a pound. It's ironic, since oats used to be shunned by humans as just horse fodder.

I also noticed that most store-bought granola is just as sugar-laden as the other over-processed, over-sweetened cereals. Here is a quote from a Yahoo news article:

Bear Naked's latest "all natural" flavor contains 21 ingredients, including four types of sweeteners, chocolate, and peanut butter. It's also 140 calories per ¼ cup (that's a whopping 280 per serving!). Even low-fat granola packs a caloric punch. One serving of Health Valley's Real Oat Bran Almond Crunch clocks in at 200 calories.

Luckily, granola is dead simple to make at home. However, many of the recipes out there continue the sugar addiction and adds gobs of honey or maple syrup. Egads, we are a nation of human hummingbirds!

The following granola recipe is barely sweet at all. Certainly you can adjust the sugar content to your liking. You can use this as a base and add whatever you have on hand. Granola is very forgiving; you could put in rice flakes, croutons, M&Ms, whatever. I also add some puffed grain just to provide some texture contrast. You can use something else, or just more oats.

You'll notice I don't put any fruit in it. That comes later. Some recipes have you put dried fruit in the mixture before cooking, but this usually results in really dried fruit, and sometimes crispy fruit. I add fruit after it has been cooked and cooled.

Healthy Granola


4 c regular rolled oats (not instant)
1 c puffed grain (like rice, millet, or corn)
¾ c nuts
¾ c seeds (sunflower, pumpkin, etc)
1 t ground cinnamon

½ c apple juice
2 T canola oil
2 T brown sugar (or honey, maple syrup)
1 t vanilla extract


1. Preheat oven to 325°F.

2. Mix the dry ingredients in a large bowl.

3. Mix the wet ingredients in a small bowl. Pour wet ingredients over dry ingredients and stir thoroughly to mix.

4. Spray a 13x9 inch metal or glass baking pan with oil. Pour the granola mixture into the pan and spread it out.

5. Bake for about 45 minutes, depending on how crunchy you want your granola. Stir the mixture several times while baking.

6. Cool thoroughly before storing.

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