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What is granola? How can I make it at home?

Do you like eating cereal for breakfast? Do you enjoy making your own cereal blends at home? You’re in luck, because we’re experts in the homemade granola department! We’ll explain what granola is made of and how to make it perfectly crunchy and delicious at home, with the added bonus of being able to completely customize the ingredients. 

Shortcuts: 

  1. What is granola?
  2. Granola: the complete biography 
  3. When is granola good for health? 
  4. Good and healthy granola
  5. Why is homemade granola better?
  6. Our homemade granola recipe
  7. Learn more about granola 
  8. What’s the best way to preserve granola?
  9. What’s the best way to eat granola?
  10. What are the health benefits of granola?
  11. What about Fourmi Bionique granola?

What is granola?

Granola is a food made from nuts and grains, mixed with honey and other natural ingredients. The mixture is baked until it is crunchy. During the cooking process, the mixture is stirred to ensure that it bakes evenly, which allows it to have the typical texture of these cereals that are most often eaten at breakfast. After the mixture is baked, dried fruits such as raisins, apricots, cranberries, bananas, and coconut are added. 

The resulting blend is rich in fibre, carbohydrates, essential fatty acids, vitamins, and minerals, making it especially healthy, particularly for athletes, who need the energy and protein that the mixture provides. 

Granola: the complete biography 

It all started around 1830, when an American, William Sylvester Graham, an ardent promoter of the vegetarian diet, invented Graham flour, which was made from whole wheat and was enriched with ground bran flakes. This flour would become a key ingredient in the now-famous graham crackers. 

Three decades later, in 1863, a doctor named James Jackson used this whole grain flour to create a healthy oven-toasted cereal blend he called “Granula”. 

His work inspired one of his colleagues, another doctor named John Harvey Kellogg (does that name ring a bell?) to revisit the recipe in 1870. Kellogg created his own blend of oats, wheat and roasted corn to serve his patients. He called his cereal “granula”.

Jackson sued Kellogg, who was forced to change the name of his “invention”. He decided to call it “granola”. This early granola wasn’t particularly successful, however, because the bland, sugar-free granola wasn’t very tasty. The recipe was soon forgotten in favour of another invention of Kellogg’s, which was called “Corn Flakes”. The era of mass-produced cereals full of refined sugar had begun

In the 1960s, granola became a hit among hippies, who appreciated its nutritional benefits. As a result, granola was an important part of the Woodstock festival in 1969, as hippies came together to eat a healthy dish that was full of energy: granola. 

In the following decades, granola moved beyond the menus of “alternative” communities to conquer the breakfast bowls of a majority of the world’s families. 

This success, however, led to many companies changing all that made granola healthy, in order to sell it to the masses. Low-quality granolas sold in supermarkets are high in saturated fats and in refined sugars, making them a product that it’s best to avoid. 

However, when it’s prepared and eaten in the right way, granola can offer many health benefits and can even be a truly healthy snack. 

When is granola good for health? 

Due to the modernization of our diet, which has evolved considerably in the 20th century, we eat far less fibre than our ancestors did. Also, a traditional farmer’s breakfast, which might include fresh and cured meats, eggs, and bread is far too rich, considering that our jobs are much less physically demanding than those of our ancestors.

These lifestyle changes combined with a wealth of rich food choices has led us to experience more cardiovascular diseases and problems with cholesterol and with weight management…

Knowing all this, dieticians at the time wanted to change breakfast habits to include sources of fibre and plant protein, without forgetting healthy fats and carbohydrates. As a result, they encouraged the consumption of seeds, nuts, and, above all, whole grains. 

Whole grains have both the advantage and disadvantage of taking longer to digest than refined grains do, which means that they provide a steady, long-lasting source of energy. To make whole grains taste better, baking them in the oven is a great solution. 

Are you looking to make the healthiest granola possible? Bake whole grains and nuts in the oven until golden brown, adding a little vegetable oil, but no sugar. You’ll get one of the best possible snacks for staying in excellent health – good and healthy granola, full of fibre and plant protein. 

Good and healthy granola

Don’t worry, it is absolutely possible to enjoy the benefits of granola while also enjoying the taste! 

Traditional granola ingredients

Here are some of the typical ingredients you’ll find in the best granolas: 

  • Oats: one of the grains that contains the most protein, fat (most of it unsaturated fat), carbohydrates (due to the fibre) and B vitamins, compared to other grains. Oats also contain minerals like phosphorus, potassium, magnesium, calcium and iron. However, don’t believe everything you hear – oats do not have gluten!
  • Nuts: contain fibre, protein, minerals (iron, magnesium, potassium, zinc, phosphorus and calcium), B and E vitamins, and healthy fats that are good for the heart and the whole body. You can use whatever nuts you like best: walnuts, almonds, hazelnuts, cashews, pistachios, etc. 
  • Seeds: are a great ally for health. Sesame, flax, pumpkin, sunflower, chia…feel free choose whichever seeds you’d like, but don’t overdo it. 
  • Sweeteners: the less sugar, the better. You can use honey, agave, maple syrup, or date paste. All of these have sugar in them, but, compared to refined sugar, they have a richer taste and additional nutritional benefits (vitamins, minerals, etc.) for a lower glycemic index. 
  • Fats: Many recipes use coconut oil to make granola due to its thick texture. It is an oil that is rich in saturated fat, though, so we suggest that you use extra virgin olive oil or canola oil. If you care more about the taste than you do about the nutritional profile of your granola, use butter! 

Why is homemade granola better?

Granola that is made for the retail market has to follow certain rules: it has to stay fresh as long as possible, it has to appeal to the tastes of as many people as possible, and it has to have the lowest possible price, not to mention the requirements for production volumes, how the products are stocked, etc. 

None of these issues matter if you’re making your own granola! You can use butter and eggs without having to worry that your granola won’t last more than 3 days, because you can make exactly as much as you need. 

Home cooking allows us to adapt recipes to our own tastes without worrying about the cost of ingredients. More importantly, you will have the freshest — and therefore the best-tasting  — granola possible! 

Here’s a basic recipe to get you started.

Our homemade granola recipe

Ingredients:

  • 170 grams rolled oats
  • 200 grams nuts, a mix of your choice (walnuts, almonds, hazelnuts, cashews, pistachios…all unsalted)
  • 45 grams seeds (sunflower, pumpkin, chia, sesame, flax…)
  • 10 grams Thompson raisins or currants 
  • 10 grams dried cranberries (no sugar added)
  • 40 grams extra virgin olive oil (or 20 grams of coconut oil and 20 grams of olive oil if you prefer)
  • 1 egg white
  • 40 grams of date paste, or 50 grams of honey, maple syrup or agave syrup
  • A pinch of salt

Instructions: 

  1. Preheat the oven to 180°C. 
  2. Mix the oats, nuts and seeds together in a bowl. 
  3. Beat the egg white until foamy (do not beat it into peaks). 
  4. Add the sweetener of your choice, oil, salt and the egg white to the oat mixture. Mix well. 
  5. Spread the mixture onto a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Make sure the mixture is evenly spread out. If you want the granola to bake evenly, it should not be more than 1 cm high. If there is too much granola to fit on the baking sheet, bake it in batches. 
  6. To prevent the mixture from burning, place the baking sheet in the middle of the oven. Bake for about 20 minutes or until the mixture is golden brown. 
  7. Once the granola is baked, take it out of the oven and add the raisins and cranberries. Let the mixture cool. 

Learn more about granola 

Here are some tips about how to take full advantage of your homemade granola. 

What’s the best way to preserve granola?

For the best results, granola should be kept in a dry, cool place without direct light. 

The best way to store it is in an airtight container such as a glass jar. 

When absolutely necessary – for example, if you’ve made enough granola to feed an army – you can put granola in the refrigerator or in the freezer, but the texture of certain ingredients may change as a result. 

What’s the best way to eat granola?

Granola can be eaten by itself, with milk or with yogurt. It’s also delicious with ice cream and in many recipes, both sweet and savoury. 

You can find many recipes on our blog that will help you enjoy granola for any occasion! 

What are the health benefits of granola?

We already talked a bit about this above, but it bears repeating that granola has many health benefits: 

  • Constipation is a widespread issue in today’s world. Granola has a great deal of fibre, which helps soften and lubricate the digestive system. Fiber also improves the texture and size of stool, which helps it to move more quickly and more smoothly. 
  • Granola is an excellent source of plant protein. When combined with milk or yogurt, you get a complete protein. 
  • Granola helps to protect the heart, because it contains unsaturated fat which is good for cardiovascular health. 
  • Granola helps reduce cholesterol, thanks to its fibre and healthy fats. The carbohydrates contained in whole grains are absorbed slowly, which lowers the possibility of sugar highs (hyperglycemia), and the inevitable crashes afterwards.

What about Fourmi Bionique granola?

At Fourmi Bionique, we strive to make the best granola possible. Our products are made with carefully chosen whole grains, nuts, sulphite-free dried fruits, seeds, honey and maple syrup, as well as chocolate — all high-quality ingredients. 

We source our ingredients locally as much as possible, looking for organic and fair trade options. We make our granola in our Montreal production facility, which allows us to offer granola that keeps well and tastes great, all while being as healthy and affordable as possible. 

Because of all this, we know we are offering the best granola out there – not counting your own homemade granola, of course 😉

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