I’m a granola enthusiast. Whether ready-made, home-made, grain-free, gluten-free, nut-laden, fruit-filled, or all of the above, I love its nutrient-dense goodness.
But that nutrient density doesn’t always love me back. For example, when I begin nibbling it straight from the jar or box and realize, 10 minutes later, that my wee snack equaled about 1000 calories, plus enough sugar to launch me into the stratosphere. And all of those nuts and seeds feel like nails in my stomach.
It’s fine if I my goal is to replenish from a long run or turbo workout, or if I am out for a long hike, but sometimes I want a granola that I can eat by the (BIG) bowlful or munch on the go without considering the calories or sugar. I like options.
Hence, I created the 72-calorie granola.
This granola has credible granola fundamentals, including the following:
However, I made significant alterations to the varieties and proportions of each element.
It begins with the grains. Traditional oats are included, but only 1/3 cup in a recipe that yields 2+ cups total; the remaining grains are crispy rice cereal (I used a crisp brown rice variety), and puffed millet. Not only does this keep calories low, it also ensure two other key elements of granola: (1) crispy-crunchiness, and (2) clusters!
Puffed millet is available in the healthy foods section of most supermarkets and superstores, at health food stores, or online. It is extremely inexpensive (about 2 dollars) for generous bag, naturally gluten-free, and has no added anything–it’s whole grain millet, nothing else.
Together with quick-cooking rolled oats (which have smaller pieces than old-fashioned rolled oats, making them better for distribution throughout the granola) and crisp rice, puffed millet gloms into perfectly crispy-crunchy clusters. Yes, please.
Holding the pieces together is 1 cup of maple syrup and 1/2 cup of melted coconut oil. No, just kidding. (But those are the quantities listed in one of my favorite granola recipes!). Rather, a measly 2 teaspoons maple syrup + a few spritzes of coconut oil cooking spray are the only sweetener and oil required. Cheap, easy, and it works like a charm. The reduced sugar also ensures that I am not bouncing off the walls minutes after eating breakfast. Kevin and Nick appreciate that.
Now, back to the subject of cheap: the ingredients in this recipe are exactly that. Forget expensive nuts or seeds, using up your entire bottle of maple syrup, or pouring a whole jar of coconut oil or extra-virgin olive oil into one recipe. Making this healthy, morning staple will keep most of your money in your wallet.
But wait, what about those fancy strawberries studding the granola?! Aren’t they expensive and hard-to-find? Hurrah, the answer is no and no! Those ruby-pink bits are freeze-dried strawberries. If you have a Trader Joe’s near you, you may be well-acquainted with these light and crispy treats.
For everyone else, it’s a matter of knowing where to look. And the #1 place to look for freeze-dried is in the baby food section of your supermarket. They are sold in pouches, and the variety I used cost the grand sum of 89 cents (if you have a Kroger supermarket near you, the ones I used look like this). You can occasionally find freeze dried fruit alongside dried fruit, or in the produce section, but it is almost always in the baby food section.
The moisture in dried fruits can make otherwise crispy granola soft and stale-tasting (sigh), especially after a few days of storage. By contrast, freeze dried fruit is dry and crunchy, and does not have an effect on the texture of the granola except to add to the overall crispiness. Plus, freeze-dried fruit is very low in calories and naturally sweet.
Additionally, the only preparation required for the freeze-dried strawberries in this recipe is a quick crumble. With your fingers. No knife skills required.
This recipe only yields a little more than 2 cups, because, hey, not everyone needs 10 cups of granola at one time. However, if you do need 4, 6, 8 or 10 cups of granola, you can easily scale up the recipe.
I hope you give this great granola option a try! Now please excuse me while I go and eat a fist-full :).
- 1 cup crispy rice cereal
- ⅔ cup puffed millet (e.g., Arrowhead Mills brand)
- ⅓ cup quick-cooking rolled oats
- 2 teaspoons pure maple syrup
- Cooking spray (I used a coconut oil spray)
- ¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon or cardamom
- generous pinch of fine sea salt
- ⅓ cup freeze-dried strawberries, crumbled
- Preheat oven to 300F. Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper.
- In a large bowl, combine the rice cereal, puffed millet and oats. Drizzle with the maple syrup, generously spritz with the cooking spray, and sprinkle with the cinnamon and salt; stir to combine and coat. Spritz again (1 or 2 times) with the cooking spray, stirring after each spray.
- Spread granola mixture on prepared baking sheet; it should be in a single layer but compacted close together (this promotes clusters).
- Bake in the preheated oven for 18-22 minutes until golden brown with a toasty fragrance (DO NOT STIR!). Transfer baking sheet to a cooling rack and cool completely.
- Gently break the cooled granola into clusters and sprinkle with the crumbled strawberries. Transfer to an airtight container.
Oats: Quick cooking rolled oats are simply rolled oats that have been chopped into smaller pieces. If you only have old-fashioned rolled oats, simply give them a rough chop before adding.