There is a plethora of packaged foods that fight for our attention on the grocery store shelves and granola, in particular, takes up quite a bit of shelf space on the cereal aisle. Granolas are tricky – they sound like they should be healthy, but most are packed with excessive (and unhealthy) types of fat, sugar and processed ingredients, making them really nothing more than a dessert item pretending to be healthy.
If you’ve been reading my blog for a while, you already know that my focus and goal in food and nutrition is to eat clean, whole foods – foods as close to their natural source as possible. Ingredients in many granolas are genetically modified, nutritionally deficient and processed way past how they looked coming from the ground. When was the last time you saw whey inulin or caramel color on a farm? (psst – these two ingredients are also genetically modified.)
It doesn’t have to be that way. Granola made at home allows you to control the quality of the ingredients, the type of and amount of sugar and fat and lets you personalize the flavor.
Here’s an easy recipe that you can make at home.
6 cups gluten free oatmeal (I use Bob’s Red Mill)
¾ cup walnuts
¾ cup almonds (whole or sliced)
¼ cup sunflower seeds
1 ½ tsp. cinnamon
1 tsp. mineral rich salt (I use Real Salt)
¾ cup 100% maple syrup
3 TBSP melted coconut oil
1 ¼ tsp pure vanilla extract
1-2 TBSP chia and/or flax seeds to mix in after baking
Heat oven to 325F. Put dry ingredients (except for chia/flax) in a large bowl. In a measuring cup, combine the syrup, coconut oil and vanilla and mix until combined. Then drizzle liquid over dry ingredients, mixing well with a spatula until evenly coated. Spread mixture evenly between two parchment lined baking sheets. Cook for 15 minutes, then gently stir mixture and continue to cook for 15 more minutes. Granola can easily burn, so keep an eye on it and adjust the cooking time as needed. Once it’s completely golden brown, remove from the oven and sprinkle on the chia and/or flax seeds while you wait for it to cool down. Once cooled, store in air tight container for 2-3 weeks.
You can personalize this recipe with your favorite nuts and seeds and you can even add a tad bit of dried cranberries or chopped dried apricots (just take it easy since dried fruit adds a lot of sugar).
I will admit that there are times I don’t get around to making granola and when that happens, I do choose pre-made. My ‘go-to’ brands are KIND and Bear Naked. Both have real, recognizable ingredients and low sugar counts… plus they taste good, too.
Don’t just save granola for topping yogurt. One of my favorite snacks is a chunk of banana, smeared with almond butter and rolled in granola… yum!