Healthy Homemade Granola

Who doesn’t love granola? It makes a great breakfast, a tasty bar, and parfaits would feel naked without it. A wholesome and nutritious food, right? Well, it can be, but granola is tricky. Most granolas feature oats at their primary ingredient and as a fiber-rich whole grain, oats offer many benefits. However, having oats as a main ingredient doesn’t automatically make granola a health food and it definitely doesn’t make it low calorie. And then there is the serving size. A serving size of granola is typically listed on the nutrition facts panel as just ½ cup. Have you ever measured out ½ cup of granola? It isn’t very much. And in that ½ cup of store bought granola you can find upwards of 300 calories, loads of sugar, unhealthy fats and oils and unnecessary filler and ingredients.
The good news is that making your own granola is quick and easy, and allows you to control everything that is included. Using dried fruit and fruit juice for sweetness cuts down on added sugars, and the addition of lower calorie nuts and seeds and puffed cereals can keep calories in check. The amount and type of oil used can also be adjusted and unhealthy oils replaced with healthier ones like olive oil and peanut oil. You can even boost the protein content by using non-GMO texturized vegetable protein as one of the ingredients.
Here are two quick and easy healthy granola recipes to get you started:
Mango Pumpkin Seed Granola
·       3 cups old-fashioned rolled oats
·       3 cups puffed millet cereal
·       1/3 cup lightly toasted slivered almonds
·       2 tablespoons pumpkin seeds
·       1 tablespoon olive oil
·       3 tablespoons maple syrup
·       3 tablespoons apple juice or apple cider
·       1 teaspoon vanilla extract
·       1/4 teaspoon salt
·       3 tablespoons chopped dried mango
1. Preheat oven to 350°.
2. Line a large rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper and reserve.
3. Combine oats, puffed millet, almonds and pumpkinseeds in a large bowl.
4. Whisk together olive oil, maple syrup, apple juice, vanilla, and salt in a small bowl and toss with dry ingredients.
5. Spread on a large parchment-lined baking sheet and bake until golden brown, stirring occasionally, 20-25 minutes.
6. Remove from oven, let cool completely, and toss with dried mango.
Cherry Chia Granola
  • 3 cups uncooked quick oats   
  •  2 cups puffed rice cereal   
  •  4 Tbsp honey   
  •  1 tsp olive oil   
  •  1/4 cup(s) apple juice   
  •  1/2 tsp ground cinnamon   
  •  1/2 tsp ground ginger   
  •  1/2 tsp vanilla extract   
  • ¼ cup chia seeds
  •  1/4 cup slivered almonds   
  •  1/4 cup dried cherries   
1.     Preheat oven to 350°F. Mix uncooked oats and puffed rice cereal together and spread on a non-stick baking sheet with sides; bake for 10 minutes, stirring once.
2.     Meanwhile, mix honey, oil, apple juice, spices and vanilla together in a cup. When oats and puffed rice are done, spoon into a large bowl; set pan aside. Add almonds and chia seeds to cereal mixture and stir to combine. Pour honey-spice mixture over cereal mixture and mix thoroughly to distribute and coat completely; spread mixture back over pan.
3.     Return pan to oven and bake for 15 to 20 minutes more, stirring every few minutes. Remove from oven and spoon back into bowl. (Note: Be careful that granola doesn’t burn – especially cereal along sides of pan.)
4.     Stir cherries into mixture; let cool. Store in an airtight container.
5.     Yields about a half cup per serving. 12 servings