Some mornings, it can be a real struggle to leave bed – when it’s icy outside and there’s frost on the windows, or when the day ahead promises to be busy and long. That’s when a breakfast treat is most needed, and there are few breakfasts more rewarding, or more enticing, than a golden, crunchy, fruit-studded bowl of homemade granola.
So: what makes a granola recipe a healthy granola recipe? Granola in all its forms can be high in sugar, so it’s best thought of as a rare treat. A recipe for healthy granola does have some advantages, though.
Oats themselves are a great source of fibre, which is a boon to your digestion. Crisping the mixture up with nuts and seeds gives you extra unsaturated fats: good fats that (when replacing bad fats in the diet) can help to lower cholesterol*. The vegetable omega-3 in walnuts in particular can help maintain normal levels**. Add fresh and dried fruit to your recipe for granola mix, and you might even have one of your five a day.
Plus, granola is delicious, which is good for your mood.
Our healthy homemade granola recipe
The recipe below is beautifully versatile – swap the walnuts, apricots, and cranberries for almost any other combination of nuts and fruit and you’ll still have a great breakfast treat on your hands.
Ingredients for the granola recipe
Makes 8 servings
- 2 tbsp vegetable oil
- 120mls honey
- 300g rolled oats
- 1 pinch to 1 teaspoon cinnamon
- 125g walnuts, unsalted and roughly chopped
- 25g pumpkin seeds
- 50g dried apricots, chopped finely
- 20g coconut flakes
- First things first, let’s get the oven warmed up: turn it to 150C. Set out a baking tray with greaseproof paper.
- Combine the honey, oil, and spice. We’ve gone for cinnamon here, but allspice is a wonderfully warming option as well.
- Stir in all of the dry ingredients apart from the fruit bit-by-bit, then pour the mixture into the baking tray, using a wooden spoon to spread it out evenly.
- Cook for 30 minutes or so, stirring occasionally to make sure it bakes evenly and that it doesn’t form clumps. Take it out when it turns golden, and leave to cool. Resist the temptation to eat it now.
- Finally, scatter your dried apricots into the mixture and admire your finished granola. OK, now you can eat it.
(Per serving, this recipe for granola mix provides 369kcal, 18.5g of fat, 2.6g of saturated fat, 44.9g of carbohydrates, 17g sugars, 10g of protein and 3g of salt. Walnuts provide 1.5g ALA omega-3 per portion.)
If you’re trying to lower cholesterol levels, this granola is brilliant scattered over fresh fruit and topped with a splash of Flora ProActiv skimmed milk drink. The natural power of the added plant sterols in Flora ProActiv can lower cholesterol by 7-10% in two to three weeks when you eat 1.5-2.4g of plant sterols a day, and 250 mls of skimmed milk drink provides 0.75g of plant sterols – so this would be the first of three portions over the course of the day to lower your levels***.
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* Replacing saturated fats with unsaturated fats in the diet has been shown to lower blood cholesterol. High cholesterol is a risk factor of heart disease. There are many risk factors for coronary heart disease and it is important to take care of all of them to reduce the overall risk of it.
** A daily intake of 2g ALA (alpha-linolenic acid), an omega-3 fat, contributes to the maintenance of normal cholesterol levels.
***Flora ProActiv contains plant sterols. Plant sterols have been shown to lower blood cholesterol. High cholesterol is a risk factor in the development of coronary heart disease. There are many risk factors for coronary heart disease and it is important to take care of all of them to reduce the overall risk of it. Consuming 1.5-2.4g of plant sterols per day can lower cholesterol by 7-10% in 2-3 weeks when consumed as part of a healthy diet and lifestyle with sufficient fruit and vegetables. No more than 3g per day should be eaten.