How to find a better granola

Chex, Raisin Bran, Special K, Quaker, Kashi, and Honey Bunches of Oats. They’re all getting into the granola business. Only trouble: granolas are calorie-dense and some don’t deserve their health halo.

One reason is unrealistic serving sizes. Take Bear Naked Honey Almond Granola. A serving has just 150 calories, says the label. But that’s if you eat only ¼ cup, or about a handful. As if!

Bear Naked and some other brands of granola cheat by using the 1 ounce serving size for snacks, when they should be using the 2 ounce serving size for heavy cereals.

Another problem: Some granolas are loaded with sugar. Take Kashi Organic Cocoa & Coconut. A 2/3-cup serving (twice the puny serving shown on the label) has about 4 teaspoons of added sugar. That’s two-thirds of the maximum amount of added sugar–6 teaspoons–that the American Heart Association recommends for most American women for the entire day.

For a decent granola, check out some of the lower-sugar granolas by Kind GranolaEngine 2 Plant-Strong (sold at Whole Foods) and Kind.

Or try muesli, which Alpen calls “granola’s fit and Swiss cousin.” Just be sure to pay attention to the serving size on muesli, too. Unlike with granolas, we had no trouble finding no-sugar-added mueslis.

Here’s what to look for when you’re shopping for granola or muesli:

  • All or nearly all whole grains
  • No more than 2 ½ teaspoons of sugar per serving (except fruit-rich mueslis that list fruit before sugar in the ingredients list)
  • No unsafe sweeteners (like acesulfame potassium or sucralose)
  • Less than 3 grams of saturated fat per serving

Or make your own Swiss muesli with this quick and delish recipe from The Healthy Cook, Kate Sherwood:

Grate 1 apple or pear. Mix the grated fruit with 1/4 cup of dry rolled oats and 1/2 cup of 0% Greek yogurt. Allow to stand for 15 minutes or overnight. Top with 2 tablespoons of chopped pecans or walnuts. Drizzle with 1 teaspoon of honey.

Swiss Muesli from Kate

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5 Replies to “How to find a better granola”

  1. Another alternative is to make your own granola. In my case, I could’t tolerate meusli because I had a hard time digesting the raw oats. Instead, I’ve been making my own granola for several years. I use applesauce to replace most of the oil and honey. Add almonds, walnuts, sunflower seeds, and sesame seeds. I measure out 1/4 cup and put it over mixed berries, homemade apple sauce, fresh pear, apple-nut mix (finely chopped apples, nuts, dried figs, lemon, cinnamon). Top it off with plain nonfat yogurt and low fat milk. I use a couple of packets of Stevia as added sweetener.

  2. There is nothing ‘quick’ about grating an apple or pear in the morning, and it’s not something I’d want to do every day. If you want to encourage us to change our habits those changes need to be easy and sustainable–and preferably a strategy rather than a specific recipe. For example, my meusli recipe that I got from a friend in New Zealand. It consists of a mix of four parts rolled oats, and one part each of raisins, sunflower seeds, chopped walnuts and unsweetened coconut. I make a big jar and have a 2-ounce serving every morning. I add milk or kefir or yogurt, and blueberries or other fruit. Or have fruit on the side. The only concern is the 5 grams of sat fat from the coconut, but if that’s an issue it can be omitted.

    And these ingredients are tasty enough that no sugar is needed; there’s already sugar in the raisins and fruit. Honey would only mask the flavors, and leave some of us with a craving for seconds.

  3. I should add that the quantities in my muesli recipe are by weight. A pound of oats, plus 4 oz each of the other four ingredients. Plus I toast the coconut and walnuts. Carefully.

  4. OK, only I look for Dietary fiber vs. sugar – most granolas have MORE sugar than fiber! A no-no! PLEASE – list those with more fiber…

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