Granola. What image does the word “Granola” evoke for you? I’ve always felt the word “Granola” was synonymous with “health”. For me growing up, the word Granola evoked images of health food markets where you could barely fit down the aisle but you could find things like Wheat Grass and Hemp seed. But now Granola is common, good food and chances are you can find a healthy, minimally processed granola at the average supermarket. But not all Granola is the same and this is a perfect opportunity to discuss the importance (and ease) of reading labels.
I did a little granola research at my local grocery chain. They had at least eight kinds of granola on their cereal shelf. The granola they carried ranged from the well known Quaker Granola to some less recognizable brands. I have to be honest. It wasn’t hard to find a minimally processed, healthy granola. But if I hadn’t read the labels, I could have easily walked out of the market with a granola filled with corn syrup and hydrogenated oil. I know not everyone feels they have the time nor the inclination to make everything from scratch. I get it. This blog is not about preaching a strict “homemade or nothing” policy. This blog is about drawing attention to the importance of reading product labels and showing you how easy it truly is. If you want to make things from scratch, then go for it! We’ll give you some recipes. But if you don’t, you can still make a huge difference in your family’s health by simply reading the labels.
This week’s comparison will be between Ralph’s Brand Low-Fat Granola and our Out of the Box Nut-Free Granola which is oil, corn syrup, and nut free. In addition to being a delicious breakfast cereal, granola can be used for a number of other snacks and meals. Next week, we’ll give you a recipe for a chocolate chip granola bar without nuts. My kids desperately want to take granola bars to school, but with the combination of our school being nut-free and the lack of available packaged nut-free granola bars without undesirable ingredients, this hasn’t been an option up until now. So if you give this granola recipe a try, hang onto 2 1/2 cups for next week and the rest is left to use atop plain Greek yogurt with chopped fresh fruit and a drizzle of honey, as an ice cream topping, or simply as an after school snack.
THE COMPARISON: Ralph’s Brand Low-Fat Granola vs. Out of the Box Out of the Box Nut-Free Granola
(All ingredients followed by an * can be referenced at www.wikipedia.org by clicking on the ingredient)
Ralph’s Brand Low Fat Granola
- whole rolled oats
- whole grain wheat
- corn syrup*
Contains 2 or less of:
- partially hydrogenated cottonseed and/or soybean oil*
- modified corn starch*
- nonfat dry milk
- barley malt extract
- polyglycerol esters of fatty acids – definition not available on Wikipedia
- soy lecithin*
Vitamins and Minerals:
- Ferric orthophosphate*
- vitamin E acetate*
- sodium ascorbate*
- vitamin A palmitate*
- zinc oxide
- folic acid
- pyridoxine hydrochloride*
- thiamin mononitrate
**All listed product ingredients are taken from product’s package label. Though Out of the Box Food makes every effort to provide complete ingredient information, please check the package for the most current information.
Out of the Box FoodSM Nut-Free Granola
This nut-free granola is great for kids with nut allergies, or to pack in lunches at nut-free schools. It has no oil, refined sugar, nuts or corn syrup.
Special Equipment: medium saucepan, large mixing bowl, 2 parchment lined baking sheets
Serves: 10 Cups
Time: prep 5 minutes / cook 50 minutes
- 9 C rolled oats (or combination of oats, rye, barley, etc.)
- 1 C unsalted, roasted hulled sunflower seeds (or you can buy raw seeds and toast yourself in a warm oven)
- 1/2-3/4 C flaxseed meal (such as Bob’s Red Mill)
- 2 tsp cinnamon
- 1 tsp sea salt
- 1/2 C pure maple syrup
- 1/2 C honey
- 1/2 C unsweetened apple sauce
- 2 tbsp vanilla extract
- Preheat oven to 325 degrees and prepare baking sheets with parchment.
- In large mixing bowl, combine oats, sunflower seeds, flax seed meal, cinnamon and sea salt. Stir to combine.
- In medium saucepan, whisk maple syrup, honey, applesauce and vanilla over low heat until combined. (about 5 minutes)
- Pour hot syrup over oat mixture. Stir to combine.
- Pour mixture in a single layer onto prepared baking sheets.
- Bake for 50 minutes, stirring granola every 10 minutes. (For ease I set my timer five times for 10 minute increments)
- Let cool and store in airtight container.
I know that reading the product labels can feel intimidating if you don’t know what to look for. I am not an expert. I am simply a mom with a mission to learn as much as I can about the ingredients in our food and share my journey with you. The more I learn, the easier it is to spot questionable ingredients on packages and the more urgent the need becomes to steer clear of those processed foods. I will continue to update the RELEVANT READS page with good, quality resources about good, quality food. Take a minute to check out these books and articles and continue to join us each week as we help to decode the processed food language. Until next week…
© 2011, kimgerber. All rights reserved.