Gripes about Granola

11 11 2010

What is it with granola these days?

I don’t mean the long-haired, rose-coloured-glasses-wearing, herb-digging kind.  I mean the sweet and crunchy oatmeal-based mixture traditionally studded with dried fruit and other healthful ingredients.

Good granola is all you need.

My issue with granola essentially lies in the fact that this once nutritious concoction (famously consumed by hikers, hippies and other outdoorsy types) has been overshadowed by a variety of products that are a complete abomination of the original idea.  And although I’m sure most people would love to have more of the hiker/hippy/outdoorsy type in all of us, we won’t get that feeling from the average granola nowadays.

The trend in granola (that sounds like an oxymoron to me!) seems to have completely shifted away from the original idea.  It has become an overly sweet, sugar coated collection of what appear to be rejected cereals, fake fruit pieces, and nuts obtained from the bottoms of bulk bin stores.  All it takes is a few minutes of label reading to realize that the typical granola cluster, bar, or bag of said product is galaxies away from what it is being marketed as; which is to say, a healthy substitute for breakfast or a balanced snack for those on the go.  For example, the type of granola bar most of us are familiar with usually has the same amount of sugar as a chocolate bar – and most people I know prefer not to eat an Oh Henry! for breakfast.  In the aforementioned “granola bars”, I frequently see apples masquerading as blueberries (with plenty of assistance from flavourings and dyes), every incarnation of sugar imaginable, incredible amounts of salt, and as always, the ever present preservatives.  In case I haven’t listed enough unnecessary additives, there’s always the option of purchasing granola bars dipped in chocolate or yogurt (which never seems to go bad).  If apples can be blueberries in the world of granola, I really don’t want to know what’s behind the “yogurt”.  And what about all those granola bars that stay soft, moist and gooey for eternity?  Despite all of this, consumers are fooled everyday into thinking that granola is good for you.  Generally speaking, it most definitely isn’t.

This...

... vs. that.

Luckily, granola, cereal bars, and oat clusters are relatively easy to make.  The beauty of making your own, of course, is the fact that you can control the entire process and have a finished product within approximately thirty minutes.  If you decide to take the dive and make it yourself, homemade granola has the added benefit of containing good quality oats that you could mix with a plethora of actual dried fruit such as blueberries, apples (notice, dear reader, that these are actually two different types of fruit – gasp!), cherries, currants, raisins and the list goes on.  To that you can add some crunch with the help of peanuts, almonds, cashews, macadamia nuts or perhaps coconut.  You can sweeten the mixture as little or as much as you like (and trust me in saying that no matter how much you sweeten your granola, it won’t even come close to the amount of sugar in the store-bought variety) using honey or maple syrup or even brown sugar.  Finally you can bring it all together with juice or water or even shredded fruit (I actually used grated apple when I made granola bars and it held them together very well).  The combinations are endless and much, much, much better for your body.

So it’s really no surprise that homemade granola has the uncanny ability to remind us of the good ol’ days.  The homemade stuff fits in nicely with the original (and brilliant) idea behind this snack too – a delicious, satisfying, healthy and portable food for anyone on the run.

So give homemade granola a chance; it’s groovy baby!

All pictures courtesy of the internet.

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