When we hear the word granola, we usually think of oats, whole grains, fiber, and protein. Sounds pretty healthy right? Don’t get me wrong, granola can be good stuff. However, not all granola are created equal, and with this “health halo” surrounding it, things can get confusing…
To make granola all you really need are oats, a little bit of something sweet (usually honey or brown sugar), and pretty much anything you want to add from seeds to raisins to shredded coconut. So yes, granola can be healthy if made with simple ingredients.
However, if you read the ingredient list of many packaged granola, you will begin to notice that many food companies are pretty generous when it comes to adding sugar and other things. Also keep in mind that granola is more dense than cereals you may normally have for breakfast. In other words, there are more calories in 1 cup of granola than 1 cup of let’s say Cheerios. I usually like to recommend keeping the portion size to 1/3 cup (perfect amount on top of yogurt!) to avoid going overboard.
For this smart swap, I’m highlighting Purely Elizabeth’s granola cereal (pumpkin fig yummm) which has quinoa and amaranth for some protein and b vitamins, chia seeds for fiber and omega 3s, coconut sugar which is low glycemic, and also coconut oil, which is antimicrobial and contains MCTs (type of fat which is used for energy instead of being stored as fat).
When comparing the two, you can see that while the sugar difference between the two granola is not that significant (Kellogg’s has 2.5 grams more), the type of sugar here is something to pay attention to. Kellogg’s low-fat granola with raisins contains three sweeteners (bolded), while Purely Elizabeth contains only one- coconut sugar, which is low glycemic meaning it’s effect on blood sugar levels is much less than the sugar, corn syrup, and molasses used in Kellogg’s granola. When choosing cereals, you want to pay attention to carbohydrates, fiber, and protein. Purely Elizabeth contains fewer carbohydrates, and also more fiber and protein for better blood sugar control so you don’t crash right after breakfast.
Making your own granola allows you to control the amount of sugar in it and is super easy! Just take rolled oats, and pretty much add in anything you desire..from nuts and seeds (my favorites are sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds, almonds, and cashews) to dried fruit, shredded coconut or cinnamon, and a drizzle of something sweet such as coconut sugar or honey, and bake at 350F for 30-45 minutes. Ta-da! Homemade granola 🙂