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Crunchy Granola

We're coming up on our 30th birthday, which inspired me to search for how natural foods have changed over time. I came across one of my very favorites: granola! Did you know there's a French-Canadian slang expression that says: "Elle est une granola" - which translates to "she's a health-food nut or a hippie-type person." Too funny! But that's the way granola eaters were perceived. I remember when my older sister first introduced me to granola 35 years ago. She told me it was the "in" thing to eat but it came with a warning called "high fiber" - it could alter things a bit in one's digestive system! Back in the late 19th century, foods made from crispy-baked, crumbled whole grains were called Granula and Granola. The hippie/beatnik days of the 1960s brought us a "granola revival" along with the addition of fruit and nuts to make it truly a popular health food. These days granola is no longer a "hippie" food! Rather, it's much loved in households across the country with well-known name brands carrying a huge assortment, including popular granola bars. But just because its granola, doesn't mean it's good for you. Plenty of brands load up on sugar, partially hydrogenated vegetable oil, high fructose corn syrup, artificial flavors and synthetic preservatives. NOT EXACTLY HEALTH FOOD! So, what should you look for in truly healthy granola?
  • Low or no added sugars - especially high fructose corn syrup and refined white and brown sugar. Many brands are made with fruit juice, maple syrup or honey, and while that's okay, they are still sugar. Be sure to check the product label for the lowest amount added.
  • No chemical preservatives such as BHA or BHT; no artificial sweeteners and flavors - go for what's REAL! You have a REAL body, you deserve REAL food!
  • Dried, unpreserved fruits, such as raisins, figs, dates and apples are a great addition to granola and granola bars. They add natural sweetness and good nutrition!
  • Nuts and seeds such as almonds, sunflower or pumpkin seeds, cashews and pecans add crunch and good nutrition - healthy fats that add flavor and help keep you satisfied longer.
All-natural granola has some good nutritional benefits:
  • Oats deliver soluble fiber, which helps maintain healthy cholesterol levels and keeps your heart and intestines healthy. They are low in fat, have no saturated fat, and their fiber can help keep your blood sugar healthy.
  • Dried fruits can be packed with minerals, vitamins and fiber.
  • Nuts deliver healthy fats and great taste and crunch.
Here are my favorite ways to enjoy granola:
  • Make your own - it's not complicated at all. Here is a favorite recipe for Almond-Nutmeg Granola.
  • With organic vanilla yogurt - or any favorite yogurt - granola makes a great topping.
  • With fresh fruit - sprinkle granola over the top; for dessert, throw on a few dark chocolate chips.
  • For breakfast on its own or with eggs and bacon or turkey bacon.
  • As a snack, plain or with milk or non-dairy milk. Here's a great snack of Granola Balls.
  • With milk and added fruit or nuts - depending on your variety of granola.
  • In place of rolled oats in an oatmeal cookie recipe - use a little less sugar! The granola will add additional sweetness. Here is a recipe for Honey Granola Cookies.
  • As delicious granola bars. Try this idea for Chocolate Chip Granola Bars or this idea for Maple and Carob Chip Granola Bars.
  • On banana peanut butter sandwiches, or on this recipe for Apple Sandwiches with Granola and Peanut Butter.
  • Added to Trail Mix. Here is what I mean with this recipe for Granola Trail Mix.
  • Added to muffins and quick breads in place of rolled oats or some of the flour. Here is a great recipe for Granola and Applesauce Morning Muffins.
  • With fruit crisps - bake fruit and top with granola.
  • Sprinkled over baked apples or pears. Here is an idea for Baked Apples with Maple Syrup and Granola.
  • Sprinkled over stewed fruit.
Are you a crunchy granola kind of person? Got a favorite granola recipe? Let me know!

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Caela Chebino says …

These recipes all sound delicious, but can you suggest a gluten free version? MUCH appreciated! :)

paig292 says …

@Caela I checked with Alana and she advised that you can make a gluten free version of granola with gluten free oats … but the oats must be specifically labeled as gluten free. If any of the recipes then call for flour, that must also be substituted with a gluten free version. The gluten free baking mixes serve as good substitutes for flour. If there is an oat sensitivity, another option would be to make quinoa granola with quinoa flakes. That would take some experimenting, but could be worth it in the end!

Joe @ Eden Kitchen says …

Mmm I love granola! My favourite granola recipe is Maple Nut Granola: http://edenkitchen.com/maple-nut-granola/

Shelley says …

Actually, I've heard the "granola" expression in English, too. The first time I heard it, back in the '90s, I asked, "What's a granola?" The reply: "You know, the fruits and nuts." Okay, mildly cringe-inducing, but also a little funny (and that's coming from someone who is both). :-)

Gail Rosin says …

I do remember when granola first appeared on the scene...and when a friend gave it to me as a gift, I could not wait to wake in the a.m., so I could eat my granola....a seriuos foodie in the making. For my favorite recipe, see my blog, gailrosin.blogspot.com..look for the Great Granola entry. Hope u don't mind, I had some help from Trader Joe's. :)

Liz says …

I juice an apple and use that as a sweetener. I find I don't need to use as much honey or oil that way.

TallSoy says …

The chunky granola with flaxseed oil is heads up superior to any other granola I have ever eaten. There is just enough oil to make it moist but without the foul taste or smell of flax seed oil. Amazing. I can't seem to find it in any store but at Columbus circle.

Linda Sapp says …

I don't live in an area with one of your wonderful stores but happened to visit where there was one. I love everything about it. Wish we had one here in the Charleston, WV, area. Anyway, I picked up a bag of cherry granola that was delicious. It was in clumps rather than cereal form. Do you have a recipe for it that you could give me? Please? Thank you very much.

Lynda says …

Any hints about how to make chewy granola that clumps together? My favorite is the Chunky Flaxseed granola, but I can't get any of my recipes to come out like that one. The texture is to die for! I'd love it if you'd consider sharing the recipe, but even some general hints would be welcome. Pleeeeaaaasssseeee?? I buy it at the Fort Collins store when I am in town, which is not as often as I'd like.

Nikki - Community Moderator says …

@LINDA & @LYNDA - Your questions are along the same lines so I thought I would reply to both of you! Unfortunately we do not have a recipe for that particular granola but I did speak with our recipe team for their tips to make chewier granola that sticks together. She mentioned that "soft and chewy granolas have more of the "sticky" ingredient (honey, maple syrup, corn syrup) and are cooked until browned but still soft. I would also recommend baking the granola in a baking pan (small enough to keep the granola 1 1/2- to 2-inches thick then just chunking the granola "cake" when it's cooled enough to handle. Also, grinding up some of the oats (or using oat flour) will help with clumping." Hope this helps!

Dr. J says …

-- I don't understand the suggestion in this blog to look for granola with "low to no added sugar." I just shopped for bulk granola at my local WFM at Bishop's Corner in West Hartford, CT -- and for all but one, ADDED SUGAR WAS THE SECOND INGREDIENT. Right after rolled oats. And for the one exception, BOLA granola, ADDED SUGAR was the THIRD INGREDIENT (after rolled oat flakes and almonds). Note that the sugar may be "disguised" by calling it a concentrate of fruit juice, honey, or some other name. But that's basically just sugar, with maybe a pinch of other nutrients (or maybe not; we've no idea). -- My best estimate is that about 2.5 teaspoons of sugar is added per 1/2 cup serving of BOLA granola, resulting in 10 gm of sugar. (Rolled oats have apparently 0 gm sugar in 1/4 cup, so probably about 0 gm in 1/2 cup granola serving) I'm guessing the amount of sugar in the other bulk granolas is even higher. -- My question for WFM is: why don't you carry bulk granola without added sugar? Or, in the alternative, why don't you list the amount of sugar added to each serving? -- Meanwhile, I'm going to check out the recipe; I hope it doesn't call for much, if any, added sugar. -- And I'll check back to see if my less than laudatory comment is actually posted.

Nikki - Community Moderator says …

@DR.J - Thank you for your feedback. Our stores are open to direct feedback regarding their options in bulk. They would love to hear your suggestion of offering lower sugar options. In the meantime, I would suggest checking for packaged granola to see if they have an option that will work!

andrea says …

i was wondering if someone could give me the nutrition facts on the health starts here granola? its the one with applesauce, walnuts and flax?? I love this one, but am curious calories, fat and sugar content. also how much a serving size woud be. thank you!! :)

Nikki - Community Moderator says …

@ANDREA - If this is something made in house, check with your local store to see if they have nutritional info. Since our recipes differ between stores, we do not normally have nutritional info on every recipe made in-house but the store might!

Doro says …

Where can I find the nutritional content of the granola sold in bins in Ardmore pa. It's difficult to copy it down because it's crowded. The customer service doesn't have a clue.

Nikki - Community Moderator says …

@DORO - Unfortunately since the bulk granola options differ between stores, we do not have a list of vendors. If you want to email me at socialmediahelp@wholefoods.com I can possibly get you in touch with the customer service leadership team to see if they can copy down certain options for you!

toni says …

Boo!! I was HIGHLY disappointed at my local WF store when I finally read the label on their house-made granola that I love!!! 15g of sugar in a 1/3 cup!!!!!!!!! WHAT??!!! It was truly saddening that WF would carry such a high-sugar granola---made by them---which is now NOT healthy!

beth hale says …

I am looking for a recipe for root vegetable crisps? Could you help me out with this, I would greatly appreciate it. Thank you and have a blessed day! Beth.

Nikki - Community Moderator says …

@BETH - I was unable to find a similar recipe on our website. If this is something you tried in your local store, check with the store directly to see if they have a recipe to share.

Teresa says …

I want to know more about Melissa's granola in your bulk section. It's the original. I love it!

Tere Garcia-Pena says …

we (me, my husband and now my entire office!) love the chunky flax granola but you don't have it on your list above! we now eat it not only with yogurt or as a snack but when you have a craving for something sweet or "bad". no one believes it could possibly be anything but bad for you because it tastes so good. can you please let me know the nutritional and caloric count? i do see it has honey and brown sugar and of course raisins have sugar but if you could give me an idea. thanks

Nikki - Community Moderator says …

@TERE - Is this something made in-house at your local store? If so, check with your store directly to see if they have nutritional info available. If they do, they'll be happy to share!

Kimia Rezai says …

Good evening, I was wondering if someone can please help me. I would like to order the good seed granola sold in bulk in your Hillcrest location. I just moved to Roseville, CA and you do not carry it here and I eat this everyday. Please let me know. Thank you so much!

Nikki - Community Moderator says …

@KIMIA - Have you checked with the local Roseville store to see if they can special order it for you?