By JoAnna Anderson Brown, Certified Nutritional Therapist
Granola can be a great source of protein, fiber and beneficial fat. Unfortunately, many of the granola brands out there are full of artificial sweeteners, preservatives and other unnecessary, unhealthy ingredients. For example, look at the ingredients in Kellogg’s Special K Low Fat Granola:
WHOLE GRAIN OATS, SUGAR, CORN SYRUP, OAT BRAN, RICE, HONEY, SOLUBLE WHEAT FIBER, MODIFIED CORN STARCH, SOY GRITS, MOLASSES, CORN FLOUR, NATURAL FLAVOR, SALT, ACACIA GUM, SOY PROTEIN ISOLATE, OAT FIBER, EVAPORATED CANE JUICE, MALT FLAVORING, HIGH FRUCTOSE CORN SYRUP, NIACINAMIDE, REDUCED IRON, BHT (PRESERVATIVE), PYRIDOXINE HYDROCHLORIDE (VITAMIN B6), THIAMIN HYDROCHLORIDE (VITAMIN B1), RIBOFLAVIN (VITAMIN B2), ASCORBIC ACID (VITAMIN C), VITAMIN A PALMITATE, FOLIC ACID, FERROUS FUMARATE, CALCIUM PANTOTHENATE, VITAMIN D, VITAMIN B12.
Yikes! As you can see, just because it says granola, that doesn’t mean it’s the healthiest choice. You can find high-quality granola brands at the health food store, but many times they offer very little bang for a whole lot of buck. Instead of forking up all your hard-earned dough for a tiny little sack of organic granola at the market, why not make your own just the way you like it?
Olive Oil Granola Ingredients:
3 cups old-fashioned rolled oats
1 cup nuts*, coarsely chopped (I used almonds and walnuts.)
1 cup raw pumpkin seeds, hulled
1 cup coconut chips
3/4 cup pure maple syrup
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
1/2 cup packed light brown sugar
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground cardamom*
1 cup dried fruit (I used cherries, cranberries and apricots, but bananas, raisins or pineapples would also be tasty!)
* Check out these tips on soaking raw nuts to make them easier to digest!
*Never heard of cardamom? The spice has numerous health benefits, such as improving digestion and stimulating metabolism.
- Preheat oven to 300 degrees
- In a large bowl, combine oats, nuts, pumpkin seeds, coconut chips, maple syrup, olive oil, brown sugar, salt, cinnamon and cardamom.
- Spread mixture on a rimmed baking sheet in an even layer and bake for 45 minutes, stirring every 10 minutes, until golden brown and well toasted.
- Transfer granola to a large bowl and add dried fruit, tossing to combine.
- After letting the mixture cool for a few minutes, serve and enjoy!
With very little effort and about an hour, you can prepare a big batch of delicious granola that your family can enjoy for the next week or two. It also makes a great homemade gift for teachers, neighbors or party guests. You can probably save more money by buying the nuts and seeds in bulk or from your local farmer’s market. Another great thing about this recipe is that you can play with the nut and fruit varieties to make it a little different every time.