This is a family life-saver during those times when kids are hungry and you need an instant meal. Just add their favorite milk and you get happy campers. You may also sprinkle granola on yogurt topped with some fresh fruits and it’s a healthy snack! You can be creative with the ingredients and tailor it to your taste and dietary regimen. I used to follow the 6:1 rule (6 cups dry to 1 cup wet ingredients) but my family still finds it too sweet. Just increasing the amount of rolled oats solved the issue, plus I could fill the half-gallon (2 liters) glass mason jar to the top.
You have the option to use two cookie trays for this recipe and cut the baking time in half. In my case, I make 4 batches of this recipe to feed a family of five for a week. Sometimes it only lasts us 5 days! My husband brings a whole jar of granola with him to work with a box of milk. You can just imagine how much we would have spent if we had to buy it in a box from a store. Just spending an hour or less and buying the ingredients organic by bulk (when possible) can make a lot of difference in your health and budget. We chose the ingredients because of their health benefits enumerated below.
Rolled Oats. Oats as an unrefined food are the most accepted whole grain in American society. They are about 10% to 15% protein and provide a source of fiber as well as a mixture of B vitamins. They contain beta-glucans that help support immune function and are of special interest for their anti-tumor properties.
Pumpkin Seeds. Best known for their concentration of zinc and their use in the treatment and prevention of male prostate problems. They are very high in iron as well as calcium and phosphorus, with some magnesium and copper; they also contain vitamin E and essential fatty acids. There is a mix of B vitamins with niacin being the highest.
Sunflower Seeds. Sunflower seeds have been used throughout history as a medicine as well as to enhance energy. One cup of sunflower seeds has more than 1,300 mg of potassium and only 4 mg of sodium. This is helpful as a diuretic, or for people who are already taking diuretics to help replace some potassium. They are high in polyunsaturated fats, essential linoleic acid and vitamin E that help reduce cholesterol levels and improve or prevent cardiovascular disease.
Brazil Nuts. They are known to be rich in calcium, magnesium, manganese, copper, phosphorus, potassium and selenium. Zinc and iron are also found in good proportions in this high-mineral nut. Their phytonutrients are betacarotene and gadoleic acid. They are a good-quality protein and about two-thirds fat of which more than 20% is saturated. It is important to note that saturated fat does not promote production of LDL (low density lipoprotein), otherwise known as bad cholesterol as previously thought, but the trans fat in hydrogenated oils. Dr. Mercola expounded more on this in his article, New Science Destroys the Saturated Fat Myth.
Amaranth. It is an ancient food native to Central America and used by Aztecs and Mayan Indians. It is naturally gluten-free and has a nutty flavor. It is high in protein, iron and calcium and has most of the B vitamins as well as other minerals. Like most grains, it is a good source of dietary fiber. It has phytonutrients like carotenoids, saponins and ionol-derived glycosides.
Coconut Flakes. The dried coconut meat has about 65% oil, which mainly is saturated fat. It has about 10% protein, some carbohydrate and fiber, traces of the B vitamins, vitamin C and vitamin E. It has some amounts of many minerals with potassium, magnesium, manganese, copper and iron being the best. The phytonutrients galactomannan, pectin, shikimic acid, squalene and vanillin are present in coconuts.
Raisins. This dried seedless grapes are fairly high in iron, with 1 cup of raisins containing nearly 6 mg. They are also rich in potassium, calcium, magnesium and phosphorus; and have traces of copper, zinc and manganese. They have fair amounts of B vitamins and are often helpful in providing quick energy.
Coconut Oil. Coconut oil is over 80% saturated fat which mainly consists of medium-chain fatty acids. Unlike the long chain fatty acids, the short- and medium-chain fatty acids abundant in coconut oil are easily digestible in the body and used by the liver to produce energy. Its saturated fat has about 45-55% lauric acid (naturally found in breastmilk) that converts to monolaurin, which boosts the body’s immunity and helps fight viruses and infection.
Maple Syrup. This natural extract from maple tree is not only a flavorful sweetener but has also been found to have potential anti-cancer properties. A study performed by Japanese researchers concluded that “maple syrup, particularly dark-colored ones, might be suitable as phytomedicines which have fewer adverse effects than traditional chemotherapy for CRC [colorectal cancer] treatment”. The best maple syrup to buy is the organic, grade B version. Grade A maple syrups are further refined than grade B and as a result have lost more nutrients.
Cinnamon Powder. Cinnamon is known to stimulate weak digestion and is a good post meal digestive aid especially if there is heartburn or indigestion following a meal. The American Diabetes Association posted a study that cinnamon improves glucose and lipids of people with type 2 diabetes. Medical News Today also shared a German research published in European Journal of Clinical Investigation that cinnamon extract has been shown to reduce fasting blood sugar levels in patients with type 2 diabetes.
Salt. Salt is not created equal when it comes to composition and health benefits. The processed (table) salt is mainly composed of sodium and chloride and about 2.5 % man-made chemicals in the form of anti-caking agents, MSG, iodine and sometimes fluoride. Its refinement process also subjects it to about 1,200°F which alters its natural structure. Natural salt like Himalayan Pink Salt and Celtic Sea Salt has about 84% sodium chloride and 16% naturally-occurring trace minerals which are beneficial to our body. Sodium is the primary positive ion found in the blood and body fluids. No wholesome natural food has a high salt content. For cardiovascular health it is recommended to focus on limiting consumption of processed foods which are likely more loaded with sodium than restricting sodium intake itself.
Let me know your favorite granola recipe. I would be interested to know what you think when you get to try this recipe and how you modify it. Cheers to good health!