Is Granola Really Great?
August is Kids Eat Right Month, the first annual celebration of its kind sponsored by the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. It spotlights healthy nutrition and active lifestyles for children and families. Now that it’s back to school time, what to serve our kids before school is on our minds. Cereal is a great go-to morning meal and granola is one of the many options. But what’s a good choice you and your family can both enjoy that provides a healthy boost for the day? It can be tricky to pick the best granola cereal and if you’re not paying attention you might get more than you bargained for in the way of calories, sugars and fat. Before you grab a box, follow these simple guidelines.
Scale down the portion. Granola can be high in calories for what is listed as a fairly small serving on the box, which is typically 1/3 to 1/2 cup. Most of us eat more than that so if you pour a full cup into your bowl, you are getting multiple servings with as many as 400-600 calories! A solution would be to stretch a single serving by mixing it half and half with a lower calorie cereal like Cheerios® or whole grain puffs. Word of caution: even if you mix cereals, make sure to measure before mindlessly filling your bowl!
Keep the sugars low. Most granola cereals contain added sugars and you can find them in the ingredient list. Watch out for these words as the first few ingredients: honey, agave nectar and corn syrup. Carefully read the label for grams of sugar as well. A good rule of thumb is to pick a cereal with no more than 10 grams of sugar per serving.
Pay attention to fats. Most cereals are naturally low in fat, however granola may contain nuts, seeds and oils that add to the fat content. While these can be healthy fats they still add sneaky calories and may be high in artery-clogging saturated fat. Your best bet is to look for no more than 6 grams total fat per serving and no more than 1.5 grams saturated fat per serving.
Healthy Granola Picks
Criteria per serving: no more than 200 calories, 6g total fat, 1.5g saturated fat, 10g sugar and at least 3g fiber
- Kashi® GOLEAN Crisp | ¾ cup serving= 180 calories; 3.5g fat; 0g sat fat; 8g fiber; 10g sugar
- KIND® Maple Walnut Clusters with Chia & Quinoa | 1/3 cup serving= 130 calories; 3.5g fat; 0g sat fat; 3g fiber; 6g sugar
- Trader Joe’s Granola & the 3 Berries | ½ cup serving= 200 calories; 6g fat; 1g sat fat; 3g fiber; 10g sugar
- Kellogg’s Special K® Low fat Granola Touch of Honey | ½ cup serving= 190 calories; 3g fat; 0.5g sat fat; 5g fiber; 9g sugar
My favorite way to eat granola is to use it as a topping for fat-free Greek yogurt. For a sweet and salty snack, I like to mix 2 tablespoon of granola with about half a cup of low fat popcorn, pretzels or freeze-dried fruit. It’s crunchy, high in fiber and satisfying in every bite.
What are some of your favorite ways to enjoy granola?