Tuesday, May 24, 2005


I know it says Whole Grain Oat Cereal, but in my mind Cheerios does not count as a whole grain. It may be made from a whole grain, as the box blasts on all 6 sides, but it's so processed that its glycemic index (GI) is well into the 70's (on a scale of 0 to 100. See my post on Cholesterol and Carbohydrates or visit glycemicindex.com for a neat-o searchable GI database). High GI foods send your blood sugar soaring - and then plummeting. (They have a soaring effect on your insulin production and waistline too.) A handful of Cheerios' ubiquitous toasted oat goodness could have a room full of kids climbing the walls one minute and asleep at their desks the next. Or a road full of adults climbing the car in front of them one minute and asleep in their cubicals the next.

Plain rolled oats, although they too undergo processing, have a GI in the 50's. And even though I can't find a decent GI for a respectable homemade granola, it's likely that once you add a little fiber and some good fat to those oats, both known to put the brakes on post-meal blood glucose rise, and serve it up with a tangy fresh unsweetened yogurt, (another low GI food), you could almost halve Cheerios' GI, curbing its blood-sugar induced mania/lethargy.

This recipe is easy. I promise.


2 1/2 cups rolled oats (not instant)

Additions (Optional):

1 tbsp. wheat germ (raw or toasted)
1 tbsp. wheat bran
1 tbsp. unsweetened coconut
1 or 2 tsp. spice (cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, etc.)

2 tbsp. any seed, e.g.
sesame, sunflower, pumpkin, flax

1/4 cup any unsalted nut, e.g.
walnuts, pecans, almonds, shelled pistachios, cashews, peanuts

Liquid Ingredients (Required):

2 tbsp. vegetable oil
4 tbsp. liquid sweetener (honey, maple syrup, rice syrup, molasses etc.)
1/8 tsp. flavoring (vanilla extract, almond extract, lemon extract, etc.)

After-the-facts (Optional):

1/4 cup any dried fruit, e.g.
raisins or currants
chopped dates or figs
chopped dried apples, pears, peaches, pineapple, apricots
dried cherries, blueberries, cranberries


1   Preheat oven to a slow 250°F.

2   Toss together oats, spices, and other additions (germ, bran, nuts, seeds, etc.) if using. (Don't go overboard on the wheat bran or germ. They'll absorb the oil and your oats won't toast well.)

Note: Use an "Old Fashioned" thicker rolled oat, not instant oatmeal. I've made a fine granola with Old Fashioned Quaker Oats, but Quaker has a brand called Mother's that provides a slightly thicker oat flake, which results in a chewier granola.

This is a basic recipe for granola. You can experiment with the limitless combinations of nuts, seeds, fruits, and tiny marshmallows in the shape of monster movie characters. Just remember that nuts and seeds are added prior to baking (for a nice toasted flavor!), while dried fruits are added after baking. Raisins are notorious for turning into swollen, burnt-tasting little nodules when baked.

Spices are discretional too. Add more or less depending on your taste. I like to add pinches of nutmeg, ginger, clove, allspice, cardamom, or dried lemon/orange zest. Be frugal with salt. Since there is very little liquid for salt to dissolve into, it will adhere to the exterior of the flakes and produce a pronounced salty taste, more like a pretzel. I've used as little as 1/8 tsp. with unappetizing results.

3   In a small bowl, microwave or gently heat on your stovetop the oil, honey, maple syrup, and vanilla until it's thin and runny. Pour the warm mixture over the oats and blend very well.

Note: This is a good opportunity to try an unrefined oil - the baking temperature is low so smoking and oil deterioration from heat aren't problems. Unrefined oils also pack flavor. Peanut or sesame oil work well. You can also reduce the amount of sweeteners. But save at least 2 tbsp. to help crispen and brown the oats.

4   Spread the uncooked granola evenly across a baking sheet. A 10 by 15 in. sheet works well for this recipe, but you'll need something larger if you want to make more. Bake for 35 to 40 minutes or until just beginning to turn golden. Turn off the oven, leave the oven door slightly ajar, and let the granola toast, if more browning is desired, for another 5 or 10 minutes before removing.

5   Let the granola rest undisturbed in the pan until completely cooled, up to an hour. Break up and pour into a bowl, mix with dried fruits, and store in an airtight container in the refrigerator.


1 comment:

Anonymous said...

thanks! saved this in my favourites!
finally someone on the internet has explained granola in a simple, straightforward manner!
not to mention healthy too, other blogs say to use a lot more oil and sweeteners!
thanks :)