Starting the day with granola

Granola is a fibre-rich snack made with the perfect combination of cereals, nuts and dried fruits, seeds and honey or other sweetener.

Unlike muesli, granola is baked, having therefore a crunchier texture than muesli, which can be eaten “raw”.

A spoonful of history

The first version of granola was called granula (inspired by the Latin word for grain – “granun”), and appeared during the XIX century. Created by the physician James Caleb Jackson in 1863, Granula was made from a baked whole wheat flour dough. This baked dough was then crushed into small pieces and baked again until it reached a form somewhat similar to its concept. It wasn’t, however, something suited for sudden munchies. Since it was very stiff and dehydrated, granula had to be soaked in milk for a whole day before it could possibly be eaten.

Years later, another inventor called John Harvey Kellogg – yes, the man who gave rise to the well-known brand of breakfast cereals – got inspired in granula to create a new kind of breakfast cereal made from wheat, oats and maize. Kellogg ran a sanatorium and believed that these cereals were good for the patients’ health. The product was so successful that it was eventually marketed on a large scale.

During the 20th century, granola lost ground for sugary breakfast cereals but, as fate would have it, the recent demand for healthier food brought it back to the scene.

However, it is important to check the labels carefully. Many pre-made granolas have lots of added sugars which can compromise a healthy breakfast. Learn how to make your own healthy granola from scratch: the delicious and nutritious answer to your needs.

What are the must-haves in a healthy granola?

The perfect healthy granola recipe is essentially a matter of personal taste. However, there are five basic ingredients that you should count in.

Granola ingredients: cereals
  1. Cereals

Traditional granola is based on rolled oats, but it largely depends on taste. Make your own healthy granola with quinoa, buckwheat, rolled barley (flakes), rice flakes or other grain that you like. Granola is usually rich in fibre, so wholegrains – which are a part of the Mediterranean Diet – are a very good option for a healthy granola.

Granola ingredients: dry nuts
  1. Dry nuts

Nuts bring a lot of flavour and an even crunchier consistency and are a great addition to a healthy granola. Again, it is your choice: you can use one kind or make a delicious mix of nuts like almonds, cashews, peanuts, pistachios or walnuts. It is really important, however to make sure the nuts have no added salt or sugar.

Granola ingredients: dried fruits
  1. Dried fruits

Dried fruits – or dehydrated – can give a fruity, sweet or slightly acidic flavour to your healthy granola. There’s a variety of dried fruits to choose from, although raisins tend to be the most common option. Get fancy and add some goji berries, coconut flakes, sultanas, dried apricots, dehydrated banana chips… whatever fits in your bowl!

Granola ingredients: seeds
  1. Seeds

Seeds make a great complement to many meals, from breakfast to dinner. A healthy granola can, then, be packed with healthy and nutritious seeds – seeds are rich in omega-3, fibre, calcium, antioxidants, vitamins among others. You can choose from a wide range like chia, sesame, poppy, flax, sunflower or even pumpkin seeds.

Granola ingredients: honey
  1. Honey or sweeteners

Honey is the most popular sweetener used in granola because it is healthy, natural and delicious. If you do not like honey or would rather explore some other sweeteners, you can use molasses, maple syrup or agave syrup. Pay some attention to these other syrups composition in order to have a better control on the sugar level of your granola.

Know 8 tips to reduce sugar in your diet.

How to make a healthy granola?

A healthy granola is quite easy to prepare, especially because you can mix it before hand, and enjoy it throughout the week. This simple healthy granola recipe takes about 20 minutes to prepare.

Ingredients:

  • 1 ½ cups of rolled oats (or quinoa, buckwheat, or other grain)
  • ½ cups of whole or sliced nuts (walnuts, almonds, hazelnuts…)
  • ½ cup of seeds (pumpkin, sunflower, sesame…)
  • a pinch of fleur de sel
  • 4 tbsp. of honey (or syrup)
  • dehydrated fruits, to taste (goji berries, raisins, coconut flakes…)

Preparation:

  1. Mix the rolled oats, nuts and seeds in a tray lined with baking paper. Sprinkle the fleur de sel.
  2. Spread the honey evenly on top of your mixed layer. Place your oven tray in the lowest position and bake at 180ºC for about 20 minutes with top heat only.
  3. Halfway through, take your tray out and give your granola a mix with a spatula – make sure you loosen the granola from the paper, and mix all the ingredients well. Put back in the over until the 20 minutes are up.
  4. When your healthy granola is baked, take it out from the oven and let cool. Add the berries and the raisins and mix well and keep in an airtight jar. Properly stored granola will keep for several days, retaining flavour and crunchiness.

Now that your healthy granola is ready, enjoy it with milk, vegetable drink or yoghurt. If you want to give an extra-twist to your granola, try adding some fresh fruit or berries. Delicious!