Better than Boxed: Granola

I have been eating homemade granola for as long as I can remember. My mother made big batches on a regular basis ever since I was small. Her recipe initially came from Recipes for a Small Planet in the 1970’s. It has since undergone several revisions.

The recipe here is a good approximation of how I make it today. But the recipe is so forgiving that you can add or delete items depending on what is in your kitchen, your dietary restrictions, or the mood you are in.

The favored way to eat this granola in our house is to sprinkle it over plain whole-milk yogurt with fresh or frozen berries.

I analyzed the Nutrition Facts for this recipe in order to compare them to a leading organic boxed granola brand. Here are the results:

Nutrition Facts Cascadian Farm Oats and Honey Granola Homemade Granola
Serving Size 2/3 cup 2/3 cup
Servings per container 9 (per box) 16 (per recipe)
Calories 230 237
Total fat 6g 17g
       Saturated Fat 1g 10g
       Trans Fat 0g 0g
Cholesterol 0g 0g
Sodium 100mg 40mg
Total Carbohydrate 41g 19g
       Dietary Fiber 3g 4g
       Sugars 14g 10g
Protein 5g 4g

The two varieties have approximately the same amount of calories per serving but the homemade variety has significantly higher fat and lower carbohydrate and sugar content. A large percentage of the fat in the homemade granola comes from coconut oil, which increases the saturated fat content. The saturated fat from coconut oil, however, is primarily medium chain triglycerides (MCT), which have demonstrable health benefits including improved metabolism, weight loss, and a healthy lipid profile. Other sources of fats in the homemade granola include sesame seeds, flax seeds, and hemp hearts. All of these provide health-promoting essential fatty acids including omega-3’s.

The Cascadian Farm variety is a perfectly acceptable option when in a pinch for a quick breakfast. It is certainly superior to many other boxed cereals in the grocery store. But in my opinion, the homemade variety is nutritionally superior to the boxed variety. The lower sugar content and higher fat : carbohydrate ratio will  provide more stabilized blood sugar response and sustained energy throughout the morning.

Following are the ingredient lists/recipes for the two granolas:

Cascadian Farm Organic Oats and Honey Granola

Whole grain oats, sugar, rice, sunflower oil, molasses, maltodextrin, honey, sea salt, malted barley extract, vitamin E (all ingredients except for vitamin E are organic).

Homemade Granola

½ cup coconut oil

½ cup honey

¼ tsp sea salt

1 tsp vanilla extract

½ cup sesame seeds

¼ cup hemp hearts

¼ cup ground flax seeds

½ cup pecans

2 cups coconut flakes

7 cups organic or gluten-free rolled oats

Directions: Combine oil with honey and salt over low heat until melted. Remove from heat. Add the following ingredients in the order listed. Bake at 350 degrees, stirring every 10-15 minutes to prevent burning on the top. Cook to desired crunchiness.  (makes 16 servings)

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