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Tuesday, April 24, 2007

A more balanced granola

As I said in my last post, you have to beware of some of those "healthy" recipes, like the nutty high-fat granola recipe recently published in the Philadelphia Inquirer. Why should you beware a recipe like this one? Because, even though the recipe is adapted from a book called "The Healthy Kitchen", each serving is high in calories, fat (including saturated fat) and sugar. For each serving of grain, the recipe provides 404 calories, including 21g (1.5 tablespoons; 6g saturated) of fat and 25 g (2 tablespoons) of sugar.

Looking for better alternatives, I consulted Alton Brown's Granola recipe. It provides 1 serving of grain for 353 calories, with 19 grams of fat and 25g of suger. A minor improvement. Surely, one could do better.

You could eat a Nature Valley Crunchy Granola Bar, Oats and Honey flavor. That's 100 calories per bar (which come 2 to the pouch). Each bar has only 3g of fat (none of it saturated), 7 g of sugars. Eat the whole 2-bar pack, and you get close to 2 servings of grain, all for only 200 calories.

Or you could make your own. Most granola recipes taste like a very rich cookie. That's the sugar (white, brown, or honey, it's still a lot of sugar) and the oil talking. What you want to make at home will be closer to the Nature Valley product -- lower in sugars and oils.

What exactly is one serving of grain? According to mypyramid.gov, that is approximately 1 oz serving of bread, or the equivalent. How many cups of dry oatmeal is that? That's a little trickier to figure out. But http://www.mypyramidtracker.gov/ can help.

  • Log in to mypyramidtracker, select "proceed to food intake".
  • In the text box under "Enter Food Item", type "oats, raw", and click the search button. Under "Search results", click the "Add" button next to "oats, raw", and click the "Select Quantity" button in the other half of the screen.
  • Now you'll be able to select a serving size of "1 cup", a "Number of Servings" of 100 (yes, 100) and click "Save and Analyze".
  • On the "Analyze Your Food" display, scroll down and click on Calculate MyPyramid Stats to find out that 100 cups of oats is equivalent to 285.7 1-oz servings of grain.

Result: 0.35 cups (approximately a third of a cup) of rolled oats per serving. That's a hassle, isn't it? I keep the results in an EXCEL spreadsheet so I won't have to go through that again. Similarly, I searched on "wheat germ, crude" to find out that a serving of wheat germ is approximately a quarter of a cup. And a serving of wheat flour is approximately .128 cup (2 tablespoons). Why did I look these up? I was looking at a low-fat honey granola bar recipe

-- Low-Fat Honey Granola Bars (foodgeeks.com) --
12 servings
1/4 cup quick-cooking oats
1/4 cup whole wheat flour
1/4 cup toasted wheat germ
1/4 tsp. ground cinnamon
1/4 cup plus 2 tbsp. honey
1/3 cup dark raisins

That's less than 4 servings of grain in the entire recipe, or just about a third of a serving of grain per serving of grain per bar. I scaled the recipe by 3 and gave it a try. Bah! An oatmeal cookie with a play-doh texture. Wheat flour + liquid (honey) without fat = playdoh.

I'll try to come up with something.

  • A crispy, crunchy granola bar that tastes good
  • Not much over 100 calories per serving of grain (remembering that a serving of rolled oats contains 110 calories)
  • Not overloaded with sugar or fat.


wildgoose said...

just googling thru and saw your post ... another no added fat granola recipe is at: http://www.nytimes.com/2007/01/10/dining/101mrex.html?_r=1&oref=slogin or just google new yorks times granola. It is not as sweet as we are all use to, but we have too much sweet in our diets anyway.