Even though it’s been around for more than 100 years, many people still wonder, “What is granola and is it good for you?”
In this article, our experts at The Soulfull Project tell you everything you need to know about this delicious and nutritious oat-based treat.
We’ll also introduce you to a way you can make your granola even more nutritious and let you in on how you can be a part of our unique community effort to supply servings of our hot cereal to food banks in your area.
What Is Granola?
Because of this, the definition of granola is sometimes hard to pin down. Ask 10 people “What is granola?” and you’ll probably get 10 different answers.
Some will say it includes blueberries and coconut. Others will say it includes brown sugar and cinnamon. Yet others will say it includes strawberries, raspberries, and hemp seeds.
They’re all correct!
Granola isn’t defined by the blueberries, or the coconut, or the brown sugar, or the hemp seed. It’s defined by the crunchy bits underneath all those tasty toppings. Take away all the fruit, seeds, and spices and what’s left is granola.
At its most basic, granola is a mix of dried oats, a sweetener that also serves as a binding agent (like maple syrup), and an oil or butter.
We’ll talk more about one of our favorite granola recipes later on in this article. But, to help you understand what is granola, here’s a simple mix.
Toast the oats in the oven with a bit of oil or butter. In a large bowl, mix the toasted oats and honey. Spread the mixture on a cookie sheet and bake. The result is a very basic granola.
Granola was first created by two doctors on two different continents more than a century ago.
In response to the health and wellness movement, German doctor James Caleb and American nutritionist John Harvey Kellog (of Kellog cereal fame) developed granola as a meal supplement for their patients.
Caleb dubbed his “granula.” Kellog named his “granola.” Though they’re very similar, the latter spelling stuck in the United States thanks to Kellog’s other cereal options (e.g., All-Bran, Corn Flakes, and Raisin Bran).
The nutritious mix, however, remained relatively unknown outside medical circles until the 1960s, when the hippie movement brought it into the national eye.
Since then, it’s become a staple of breakfast enthusiasts, hikers, and snackers around the world.
Is Granola Good For You?
The simple answer? Yes, granola is good for you.
As you read in the example above, granola is just oats, a binding agent, and a bit of butter or oil. As long as there are no added sugars or unhealthy ingredients, granola is pretty much the same as a bowl of oatmeal or hot cereal.
In fact, oatmeal and granola are remarkably similar in nutritional value. Here’s how they compare.
With both granola and oatmeal, you’ll also get a nutritious dose of vitamins and minerals, such as:
- Vitamin B6
- Vitamin A
The exact amounts of the vitamins, minerals, and other nutritional numbers will vary depending on how you make it and what extras you add.
Nevertheless, the fact remains that, unless you add tablespoon after tablespoon of processed sugar, granola is a nutritious food that can’t be beat.
When To Eat Granola
When most people ask “What is granola and is it good for you?” they’re asking with breakfast in mind. And, indeed, granola is a nutritious and delicious way to start your day off right.
Kids and adults alike enjoy the taste and simplicity of granola and milk (we like almond milk on ours) eaten with a spoon before heading off to school, work, or the home office.
We mentioned a few toppings earlier in this article (blueberries, coconut, brown sugar, cinnamon, strawberries, raspberries, and hemp seed), but you can add anything that tickles your taste buds. The sky’s the limit!
Fruits of all kinds go great with granola. Try sprinkling in spices and nuts such as turmeric, ginger, almonds, and walnuts to boost the flavor.
And don’t be afraid to add vegetables like spinach, zucchini, and carrots (just to name a few) as a way to kick up the nutritional value of your granola.
Granola for breakfast doesn’t stop there. Try spooning granola into a bowl of fresh-cooked oatmeal or hot cereal to add texture and crunch. Or mix granola into your oatmeal smoothie for a thick, delightful texture.
We especially love sprinkling granola into our overnight oatmeal in the morning. The sweet, toasted flavor adds depth and makes for an extremely enjoyable breakfast.
Granola is ideal anytime hunger hits you. It’s a perfect snack food for homeschoolers, hikers, working parents, or anyone who is staying in or going out.
We love to make a trail mix with granola, almonds, shredded coconut, dried cranberries, and a few mini-chocolate chips.
Throw it in a plastic baggie or a small storage container and you’ve got an easy-to-eat snack that you can indulge in anywhere, anytime.
How To Make Granola At Home
- 4 cups of oats (rolled oats work well and are gluten-free)
- ½ cup of maple syrup or honey
- ½ cup of melted coconut oil
- ¾ teaspoon of salt
- ½ teaspoon of ground cinnamon
- 1 cup of pecans
- ½ cup of hemp seed
- ⅔ cup of dried cherries (chop if too large for your taste)
- 1 teaspoon of vanilla extract
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit
- Line a large, rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper
- In a large mixing bowl, combine oats, nuts, seeds, salt, and cinnamon
- Stir well
- Pour in coconut oil, maple syrup, and vanilla
- Mix until all the oats and nuts are lightly coated
- Spread granola mix onto baking sheet
- Bake for 24 minutes or until lightly golden brown
- Let the granola cool completely, undisturbed for at least 45 minutes (this helps to give your granola the crisp, crunchy texture)
- Break granola into the size you prefer and store in an airtight container at room temperature for one to two weeks (or freeze for up to three months)
Healthy Ingredients Make For Healthy Granola
As we’ve discussed, granola consists of healthy ingredients combined to make a nutritious treat that’s perfect for breakfast, lunch, dinner, or anytime.
For a bigger nutritional kick, try adding hot cereal to the recipe above and discover just how flavorful granola can be.
The Soulfull Project offers a variety of hot cereal flavors, including:
- Hearty Grains & Seeds
- Blueberry Almond
- Four Grain Hot Cereal
- Brown Sugar Pecan
- Cinnamon Spice
- Irish Oatmeal
- Apple Cinnamon
No matter which hot cereal or oatmeal you choose to add to your granola, you’ll get other hearty and healthy ingredients, such as:
You can then add your own ingredients to your granola for a truly unique and delicious meal or snack.
When you experience what granola can do for your morning (or anytime), you’ll want to share the benefits with others. With The Soulfull Project, you can!
For every serving you purchase, we will provide a serving of our hot cereal to a regional food bank in your area. Now, eating breakfast can contribute to the health and happiness of you, your family, and your neighbors.
With The Soulfull Project, you can make the world a better place, one serving at a time!
For more information on the serving-for-serving program and to check out all our delicious hot cereal flavors, visit TheSoulfullProject.com today.