i’ve talked here before about how i’m trying to cut down on the amount of refined sugar (this means white, brown or even raw – it’s really all the same – as well as any corn or cane syrup) my family eats. this is not to say we don’t do cakes, cupcakes, cookies or ice cream – we most certainly do, in fact the kids ate ice cream from star provisions (it’s real iced cream from a local dairy with sugar added – mmm) the other night for dinner. yes, for dinner. sometimes you have to. anyway, i think treats are totally fine from time to time – but the amount of sugar hidden in a lot of everyday items is kind of ridiculous. things like yogurt, marinara sauce, ketchup, juice, cereal, applesauce and granola – those are things that we stock on a regular basis and can be loaded with unnecessary amounts of refined sugar.
the one i especially have taken issue with lately is granola. all four of us love to eat granola with either whole milk yogurt or almond milk with berries for breakfast, so we go through it rather quickly. there are four places that i grocery shop: publix, trader joe’s, whole foods and the dekalb farmer’s market (major heartsies for them). i have scoured the granola shelves at all of these stores and done a little research on the options…
- publix: the only one they carry without refined sugar is mona’s. mona’s is a fine option, but it doesn’t have a ton of flavor and is expensive.
- trader joe’s: i have loved trader joe’s for so long (the love affair began when i lived in california as a poor 22 year old and discovered two buck chuck. it was a match made in heaven). i was infinitely sad to find not a one variety of granola without refined sugar on their shelves. not a ONE! i thought surely! but what was extra sad, is that the trader joe’s brand granola would proclaim “LOW SUGAR!” on the front – only to turn the bag around to see the ingredient list, and sugar or cane syrup was the 2nd ingredient. in what way does that mean low…like it wasn’t #1? this is part of a bigger discussion about DO NOT BELIEVE WHAT YOU SEE ON PACKAGES, such as “all natural!” proclamations (not monitored; anyone could say that about any product) and similar. the only thing you can trust is the list of ingredients.
whole foods: surprisingly, they only have 1 or 2 options of granola that is sweetened with a non-sugar ingredient, such as honey or maple syrup. and they will cost you a pretty penny. that is what i usually buy, but sort of flinch when rush asks for seconds of granola at breakfast time. :)
dekalb farmer’s market: they make their own granola, which is sweetened with honey – most of the time – and it is awesome. i say most of the time because a few months ago, i bought a package of their granola and looked at the ingredient list when i got home, only to find “cane syrup” where i typically find the “honey” listed. um…did they run out? i mean they have like 2000 bottles of honey on a shelf just down the way. the next time i went (i try to go once a month to do a big stock up), it was back to honey. so who knows – but like i said, always always check the ingredient list!
SO. there are options on the sugar free granola front, but they are all $$$ or sort of inconvenient to grab on a regular basis (at least for me). which brings me to – making your own granola. much, much less expensive and pretty convenient to obtain what you need. now i know how this sounds – very granola-y!!! but i promise it is so easy, and i am so glad my friend betsey told me just how easy it is because i was much more apt to try my own hand at it after hearing her stamp of ease approval. she found the recipe on the 100 days of real food website (awesome resource if you’re thinking about trying to eat less processed foods) and i made it this past weekend. super, super simple and rave reviews all around!!! i’ll post the recipe from their website below with my notes added:
3 1/2 cups of rolled oats (i buy organic publix brand)
1 cup raw sliced almonds
1 cup nuts (cashews, walnuts or pecans – i used 1/2 c. pecans, 1/2 c. walnuts)
1 cup unsweetened shredded coconut (you can find this at whole foods or similar – in a green bag)
1/2 cup raw sunflower seeds
1/2 cup raw pumpkin seeds
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger (i only used 1 teaspoon)
1/2 teaspoon grated or ground nutmeg (btw, who the hell grounds their own nutmeg??)
6 tablespoons unsalted butter
1/2 cup raw honey
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon salt
1. preheat oven to 250 degrees. cover a large rectangular baking sheet with parchment paper.
2. mix the dry oats, almonds, nuts, coconut, seeds and spices together in a large bowl.
3. heat the butter and honey together in a small saucepan over low heat. once the butter is melted, mix in the vanilla and salt.
4. pour the hot liquids over the dry ingredients and stir with a rubber spatula until evenly coated.
5. spread mixture on prepared pan into one even layer. bake for 75 minutes.
6. the granola will become crisp as it cools, at which point you can break into pieces with your hands. (i waited until it was completely cool and it broke apart very easily.) store in airtight container at room temperature for up to 2 weeks.
ET VOILA! here is how much it makes.
so good with fresh berries and almond milk…
i love finding things that my family likes, and that i feel good about feeding them too. enjoy!