Granola. Who doesn’t love it? Of course, most granolas can run high in added sugars and fats, but there are ways to be sure you get healthier versions of these. And I don’t know about you, but of late, I’ve grown a little tired of ready-made granola. Either they don’t taste all that great, or they’re too costly. So I’m making my own. I’ve tried and tested a few recipes but have finally developed a custom-made version for my liking. And the beauty of granola is you can custom-make it to your liking too. This recipe delivers a crunchy delight that doesn’t cost a bunch, doesn’t take much time to make, and makes enough to fill two quart mason jars. And the bonus… it’s pretty healthy. So why not give it a try?
3 cups steel cut oats
2 generous tablespoons coconut oil
1/4 cup wild honey
1/4 cup wheat germ
1/2 cup chopped walnuts
1/4 cup chopped pecans
1/4 cup pumpkin seeds
1 tablespoon white sesame seeds
1 generous tablespoon dessicated unsweetened coconut
Mix these together and spread out on a parchment paper-lined non-stick cookie tray (use one with sides so that the granola doesn’t spill out). Bake for 20-30 mins at 375F, until slightly golden brown (stir around at least once halfway through baking so that the browning is evenly spread). Remove and allow to cool.
Add dried fruit (use unsweetened versions):
1/4 cup craisins
1/4 cup chopped dried apricots
Mix this with the baked granola, fill up the mason jars, and if you have a little extra that won’t fit into the jars, juts go ahead and eat it right there and then. Absolutely sublime with plain low-fat greek yogurt and any fresh fruit (ripe bananas make this almost a desert).
I recommend keeping the serving size about 1/2 cup. For this the estimated nutritional information is:
200 kcal, 5g protein, 9.5g fat (2.5g of this saturated fat), 0g cholesterol, 22g carbohydrates, 3g fiber and sodium, pretty much negligible.
A few things I want to point out:
1. Add 1/2 cup of 0% fat plain Greek yogurt (I’ve referred to Fage here), and all you’ll add is 65kcal, 4.5g carbohydrates, and 11.5g protein. This kind of yogurt is rich, creamy, and packed with protein to make you feel more satisfied, a good way to keep cravings and munchies at bay. Plus you’ll be bumping up your gut-friendly bacteria thanks to the live cultures, also known as probiotic, in yogurt. While we’re still researching all the potential benefits of consuming probiotics, research is promising for many areas of health, including managing inflammatory bowel disease to eczema in children.
2. Coming in a 3 grams of fiber per serving, I consider this a good source of fiber. Fiber can also make you feel more satisfied. And let’s not forget – oats are a great source of soluble fiber, a prebiotic that your gut-friendly bacteria can ferment and thrive on. Really, a healthy and happy gut needs both pro- and prebiotics. They work hand in hand towards keeping you healthy.
3. And yes, a word on fat. This granola is high in fat, but it’s the healthier kinds. For example, walnuts offer omega-3 fatty acids known to boost heart health and reduce inflammation. Almonds are also great for heart health and are a good source of Vitamin E, a powerful antioxidant that keeps your cells free from damage, healthy, and in check. And why did I use coconut oil? Have you notice all the buzz around coconut oil of late? Honestly, the main reason why I used coconut oil is for the lovely flavor it imparts when the oats and nuts are roasted. I have used other oils (canola, safflower, even peanut) but I wasn’t sold on these. A few things I want to mention about coconut oil. I used a pressed virgin coconut oil version. The kind you most typically see in highly processed and packaged items is not very healthy. Whereas virgin coconut oil MAY offer some benefits related to the structure of the saturated fats (metabolized more easily, not deposited in your arteries as much as animal saturated fats, may lower bad cholesterol), the jury is still out on the evidence supporting this.
In a nutshell (in honor of all the nuts in this recipe!), making anything homemade is often better than buying it ready-made. You can select your own ingredients, adjust recipes to suit your taste and health, and enjoy the process from scratch to finish!
I hope you enjoy noshing on this granola!
Jessica Avasthi MS, RD, LD
Minding my Peas & Food