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Friday, April 20, 2007

Beware the healthy granola recipe

The Philadelphia Inquirer published an interesting article about how fast-food and convenience-food makers are vying for your breakfast dollar. It criticizes a few popular morning choices (McGriddles, McMuffins, and Starbucks' Venti Caffé Mocha with whipped cream), and offers a side bar (not available online) advocating more nutritionally balanced breakfasts you throw together at home in three minutes or less. Unfortunately, it also offers a Granola Recipe that (to quote the author) makes the denigrated 300-calorie McMuffin "look like diet fare".

Sure, the granola is chock full of natural, wholesome ingredients. But each serving (maybe 3/4 cup) provides over 400 calories. That's a nice snack if you are an iditarod musher, but a bit heavy in the cereal bowl for the rest of us.

By my calculations, each serving (maybe about 3/4 cup) amounts to about

  • 1 serving of grain
  • about an ounce of nuts and seeds, which counts as 2 ounces of meat (http://www.mypyramid.gov/pyramid/meat_counts.html)
  • 21 grams (1 1/2 tablespoons) of fat, 5 grams of which is saturated
  • 1 1/3 tablespoons of sugar
  • No dairy
  • No fruit or vegetables
I double-checked the weight per cup of the almonds, sunflower seeds, and coconut at the USDA and nutritiondata databases (just use this blog's nutrition data search bar to check for yourself).

Instead of this nutty, high-fat granola, I would choose:
  • 1 serving of grain: 1/3 cup oatmeal (prepared with 1 cup of water), 1 slice of whole-grain bread, or 1 cup of cheerios (60 - 110 calories)
  • 1 serving of dairy: 8 oz skim milk (93 calories)
  • 1 serving of fruit: 1/2 cup fruit (40 to 80 calories)

Total: under 300 calories. Save the nuts for an afternoon snack (1/2 oz walnut halves is under 100 calories).

How many calories do you need a day? How many servings of which foods do you need? Find out at mypyramid.gov.

(correction to serving size of rolled oats 4/24/2007)