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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: Are you a crunchy granola kind of person? Got a favorite granola recipe? Let me know!