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granola bowl

Granola 101: What Is It, How You Can Make It and Is It Healthy?

You’ve probably heard of granola. This whole grains and dried fruits mixture is quietly starting to rule the world.

Vegans love it, carnivores love it too… should you love it too?

This is your Granola 101 guide with (almost) everything you have to know about it!

When Was Granola “Invented”?

According to Wiki, Granola is quite a recent invention. It was developed at the end of the 19th century by two different people and it was spelt Granula and  Granola.

James Caleb Jackson and John Harvey Kellogg are the “inventors” of Granola. They both were based in the U.S. (God bless America!) so we can safely say we owe this to Americans. Even though their recipes were a little different, the final product was very similar.

Both recipes consisted of whole grain base. Later, the recipe evolved and dried fruits were included. You can read more about Granola’s history on Wiki.

What’s the Base of Granola?

Initially, Granola’s base was Graham flour. That changed a little and now the main ingredient of Granola is oats.

While the oats are the base and you can’t skip them in a Granola recipe, the nutritious snack also has nuts and dried fruits. Last but not least, Granola is usually sweetened – usually with maple syrup.

oats in baking tray

Granola or Muesli?

So, you’ve read what Granola’s main ingredients are and you probably noticed that’s very similar (if not identical) to Muesli.

Well, while they basically have the same ingredients Granola is baked and sweetened while Muesli is not.

Both can be eaten in the same way. I would say it’s just a matter of preference.

Easy Granola Recipe

As I already mentioned, you don’t need lots of ingredients for Granola. Changes are that you already have the ingredients in your cupboard. You will need:

  • 250 grams of oats (steel-cut, rolled – whatever you prefer)
  • 100 grams of your favourite dried fruits (I usually add raisins, goji and apricots – or whatever I have on hand)
  • 100 grams of seeds and nuts (again, it’s up to you)
  • maple syrup

dried fruits for granola

When it comes to seeds and nuts, I usually have nuts and seeds mixture and I combine them together. In case you need some inspiration, I’ll leave a list of nuts, seeds and dried fruits you can add to your Granola.

Nuts:

  • walnuts
  • pecan nuts
  • almonds (preferably chopped)
  • cashew
  • peanuts
  • pistachios (yum!)
  • hazelnut

Dried Fruits:

  • goji
  • mango
  • raisins
  • cranberries
  • apricots
  • banana/apple chips

Seeds:

  • pumpkin
  • sunflower seeds
  • flaxseed
  • sesame
  • poppy
  • chia


 

 

These are not all, of course, but the possibilities are probably limitless. Of course, you don’t have to add them all. Add the ones you really like. In my case, I will never add dried pineapple in my Granola – I hate it.

Start by chopping the dried fruits and nuts. Some are naturally small, but other like almonds or dried apricots should be chopped.

seeds and nuts for granola

Add the oats in a large baking tray that will allow you to have a thin layer of Granola.

Add the seeds and the maple syrup and mix well.

pouring maple syrup over granola

You should get a wet, sticky mixture.

Spread evenly, in a thin layer and put them in the oven for 10 to 15 minute. Every 5 minutes get them out and give them a mix to prevent burning.

toasting granola

When they are nice and golden, take them out and let them cool down a little.

Now you can add the dried fruit too. You don’t want to be Cristina-the-naive and add the dried fruits before baking. The fruits will burn. Been there, done that. First granola was sort of a fail for me.

Don’t use honey!

You might think that honey could work for this recipe too. Nope, it doesn’t, sorry.

At temperatures higher than 40 degrees C, honey becomes toxic. This “myth” was around for quite some time, and I had to double check. I asked Julie, who studied nutrition at Uni if it’s actually true and she confirmed it is. So honey is big no, no in granola.

How Can You Have It?

There are two major ways granola can be enjoyed:

  • as grains
  • as bars (recipe on the way)

Basically, you just eat it. It goes well with milk and yoghurt. Granola is also a major component of parfaits.

granola basic ingredients

The basic ingredients for Granola: oats, nuts, seeds and dried fruits

Is Granola Healthy?

You will be tempted to say YES! but I would say it depends.

Why can Granola be unhealthy?

First of all, it’s sweetened. It also contains dried fruits which have natural sweeteners in them. So adding too many sugars is easy to do.

Secondly, Granola is quite rich in fats. Due to the oils in the seed and the fruits, this so loved grain mix might turn not so healthy. A cup of Granola can have up to 600 calories.

how to store granola

How Can You Make It Healthier

You probably guessed it: make it at home. Homemade granola is way healthier than store bought granola because:

  • you have 100% control over the fats and sugar you add
  • you can keep away the fruits and seeds you’re allergic to

It’s better to know what you add in you Granola and have control over it.

Stored Properly

Store it in an airtight container, in a dry, clean, not too warm place and you should be able to enjoy it without problems for a couple of weeks.

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