Dieting plans are easier when you cook your own meals. Let’s start with the first meal of the day. Many pre-made breakfast cereals contain additives, preservations, and excessive amounts of sugars and fats.
Although granola has a “health halo,” store bought versions are often loaded with added sugars and fats. Sure, it tastes good, but even a little handful can pack a big caloric punch.
It’s Easier to Stick to Dieting Plans When You Cook at Home
Granola can be included in healthy dieting plans. This oat-based cereal makes for a crunchy, nutritious treat. But granola is typically very high in calories. While some store-bought versions are relatively healthy, others are more like desserts than cereals.
Granola’s healthy ingredients include oats, nuts, seeds and dried fruit, which deliver important nutrients such as protein, iron, heart healthy fats and fiber.
But, granola is also calorie dense. In addition to the fact that oats, nuts and dried fruits are all high in calories, many packaged versions also contain added calories from oils and sugars. Added sugars come in many varieties. Look for evaporated cane juice, honey, maple syrup, molasses, cane sugar and brown rice syrup on the label. To make the granola taste even better, the manufacturer may add copious amounts of coconut and chocolate. Dried fruit, which is often coated in sugar, and nuts also add to the calorie counts.
According to Rahaf Al Bochi, a Registered Dietitian, Certified Diabetes Educator and Spokeswoman for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, “It’s important to be aware of the many sugar sources that could be in granola. Look for granola that has minimal amounts of added sugar and uses dried fruit for sweetness instead.”
Take a look at the average nutritional profile of one cup of packaged, store-bought granola:
• Calories 597
• Fat 28 grams
• Sugar 24 grams
If you buy store-bought versions, read the label. Also be aware that serving sizes vary from ¼ cup to 2/3 cup, so don’t focus only on the number of calories.
You may just find that it’s easier to stick to healthy dieting plans by making your own granola.
Good-for-You Granola Recipe
You can make a much healthier version of granola that suits your dieting plans in less than 30 minutes. There’s nothing complicated about making this oat, quinoa, nuts and dried fruit version. The quinoa adds crunch and is a complete protein. Take the liberty of customizing it to your preferences.
While this healthier version is still high in calories, it cuts way down on fat and added sugars. I recommend serving it as a parfait by layering Greek yogurt, homemade granola and fresh berries. That way you can get the crunch and nutrition without consuming such a large portion. Think of it more like a garnish than the main ingredient. A little goes a long way in terms of added flavor.
Ingredients (makes 3-3/4 cups)
• 1/4 cup quinoa
• 1 1/2 cups rolled oats
• 1/4 cup unsweetened shredded coconut
• 1/4 cup ground flax seed
• 1/4 cup slivered almonds
• 1/4 cup chopped walnuts
• 1/4 cup dried blueberries
• 1/4 cup golden raisins
• 1/4 cup honey
• 1 tsp. melted coconut oil (or olive oil)
• 1/2 tsp. pure vanilla extract
• 1/4 tsp. ground cinnamon
• Pinch of sea salt
1. Preheat the oven to 325 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
2. Rinse quinoa. Drain well and pat dry with paper towels.
3. Spread the quinoa, oats and coconut out on a baking sheet.
4. Toast in the oven, stirring once, until golden, about 10 minutes.
5. Pour the oat mixture into a medium bowl and add the ground flax, almonds, walnut, and dried fruit. (Leave the oven on.)
6. In another bowl, combine the honey, oil, vanilla, cinnamon and a pinch of sea salt.
7. Pour liquid mixture over the oats; stirring until completely coated.
8. Spread the mixture out on the lined baking sheet.
9. Bake until golden brown, 10-12 minutes.
Nutrition (per 1/3 cup serving)