Mmmm.. yogurt topped with granola-addicting stuff that is packed with sugar and calories; an average of around 200 for 1/3 cup to be exact, which heavily outweighs the health benefits, in my opinion. And if you plan on munching right out of the box you've long surpassed the 1/3 cup serving size and could have splurged those calories on something way more worthy - like chocolate cake ;) So, I was on the search for something that won't cause a sudden spike in blood sugar levels and was waist line friendly-ish.
I quickly caught on to the alternative ingredient used to give granola its signature crunch: Applesauce. Go figure. That stuff is great! It substitutes for oils in cakes and on granola? Works for me! I even found unsweetened applesauce at Trader Joe's that was Calcium and Vitamin C fortified!! What a bonus!!!
Next awesome ingredient find was this Super Cranberry and Pomegranate Blend (again - Trader Joe's). Why? Well, if you haven't heard already pomegranates are super healthy. And it has been known that cranberries are pretty powerful little fruit too. In addition to all the natural benefits from these two berries this mix is Omega 3 fortified!! Yay for nutrition! Not to mention they're both DeLiciouS! :D
This is already a great granola in the making!!
So, go to your local health food store - pick up a bunch of yummy, healthy ingredients, mix and wait - a lonnnnnnnnng time because granola has to be baked at a low temperature for an extended period to get crispy without burning. I got a bit impatient after about 1.5 hours and cranked the oven up about 50 degrees higher and ended up with a highly satisfying crunch (okay, more like a tad bit burned). So be patient!!
This recipe is adapted from Alton Brown and Baking Bites
Mega Fortified Low Fat Granola
makes 15 half cup servings
3 1/2 cups regular cooking oats (not instant or quick - why not? because then you'll end up with granola-like powder rather than chunks)
2 cups puffed rice cereal
1/3 cup brown sugar (or more to taste - mine was not very sweet but I sprinkled some sugar sub. at the end)
1/3 cup maple syrup (or more to taste)
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp ginger
1/2 tsp nutmeg
1/2 tsp cloves
1/3 cup slivered almonds
1/3 cup pumpkin seeds
1/2 cup mixed, dried berries
1 tsp vanilla extract
3/4 cup unsweetened applesauce
((you can add what ever nuts, berries, coconut or any other mix-in you would like!))
Preheat oven to 250F. Line a large cookie sheet with parchment paper.
In a large bowl combine oats, rice cereal, and spices. In another bowl combine apple sauce, brown sugar, maple syrup and vanilla extract.
Add wet ingredients to dry ingredients and stir to combine. Add mix-ins such as nuts and berries or shredded coconut.
Bake for 1 hour then toss the granola. Bake an additional 45 minutes (or longer) until desired crispiness is achieved. (Alton's recipe yielded only 1 hour and 15 minutes but that was way too short in my oven.)
Nutritional Facts: (per half cup serving)
Calories 156, Fat 3.4g, Carbs 28.8g, Fiber 2.8g, Protein 3.8g
Okay, so its not the mega low calorie granola I was hoping for but its not a bad start. :) Ps. your nutritional facts might vary depending on what kind of nuts, berries and mix-ins you use.