by Athena Abdien
Photography by Athena Abdien
The ingredient list on the back of any store-bought food is a place some may tend to avoid or forget. It often includes words that only a scientific genius could understand and the amount of calories in the food, as opposed to the actual ingredients in the food, becomes a major focus.
“I think I might check the calories more instead of the ingredients to compare this number with other foods I eat, but I don’t actually look in depth into the nutritional breakdown of the food like the fiber or the carbohydrates, et cetera,” said Emily Paige (COM ’19). “I probably could not even tell you the main ingredients that make up certain store-bought granola brands that I buy.”
Despite being the easier alternative to making granola at home, grab-and-go granola remains a processed food that many assume is a healthy choice. Bright colors and bold phrases like “heart-healthy,” “low fat” and “whole grain” are eye-catching and deter customers from what is actually in the product. Thus, the power of advertisement serves its purpose in intriguing the consumer.
However, not all granola brands and products are healthy. Determining how healthy a brand really is requires a quick glance over the ingredients. If the ingredients are more legible, then the brand is a healthier option. Reading a list of ingredients should always be an easy task that does not include questioning ingredients like “folic acid” or “pyridoxine hydrochloride.” Ultimately, when buying granola from the grocery store, make sure to “see the bold wording and double-check what the actual ingredients label says to see if the advertisement matches the nutrition label,” said Tyler Armey (COM ’19).
Since numbers are easier to identify than obscure ingredients, the number of calories in a food is sometimes considered more important for any person’s overall diet than the fuel provided by whole ingredients. In other words, a whole food that is higher in calories is a better alternative in terms of the nutrition necessary for healthy lifestyle than a processed food with a low number of calories.
Choosing between baking something that is healthy but includes time and effort and buying an unhealthy pre-made bag is a common occurrence.
“I haven’t ever attempted to make my own granola because it’s so much easier to buy it at the store than make it at home. I would only choose to make granola at home if it was a cheaper alternative in the long-run,” said Isabel Torres (CAS ’19).
Many do not realize that making granola at home is a cheaper and more affordable option because homemade granola can be made in bulk and will last in the pantry for months at a time. Therefore, one can avoid an extra trip to the grocery store during the week and spend less money.
“I definitely would [make granola at home) knowing that it would last longer in bulk size and would be a cheaper alternative in the end. I feel like the brands that are advertised as healthier, like Nutri-Grain, are far more expensive anyways, so making my own would definitely save me money and I like knowing that it’s a healthier alternative,” said Paige.
Ultimately, what some may not realize is that granola can be made in under an hour, and best of all, only requires two handfuls of healthy, energizing and vegan ingredients. These ingredients can easily be found at any local grocery store and can be stored in the cabinet and the fridge for long periods of time. Make a trip to Star Market and get ready to channel your inner health goddess by making the delicious vegan granola below:
Chocolate-Covered Coconut Almond Vegan Granola
3 Cups of Rolled Oats
¾ Cup of Raw Chopped Almonds
¾ Cup Vegan Dark Chocolate split into larger chunks (brands like Endangered Species, Loving Hut, or TAZO Stoneground)
½ Cup of Chopped and Pitted Dates
½ Cup of Natural Coconut Flakes (meaning, nothing but coconut flakes listed in the ingredients themselves)
¾ Cup Melted Coconut Oil
½ Cup of Maple Syrup (again, maple syrup should be the main and only ingredient)
1 Teaspoon of Pure Vanilla Extract
1 Tablespoon of Unrefined Coconut Sugar
1 Teaspoon of Ground Cinnamon
Preheat oven to 350°F.
Mix the oats, chopped almonds, dark chocolate chunks, chopped and pitted dates, coconut flakes, coconut sugar and cinnamon together in a large mixing bowl.
In a separate bowl, combine the coconut oil, maple syrup and pure vanilla extract. Mix together quickly until a thicker consistency and caramel color is produced.
Pour the wet(ter) ingredients into the large bowl of the dry ingredients and mix together until all of the ingredients are combined.
Spread this mixture evenly onto either a baking sheet or piece of aluminum foil onto a large pan and keep the mixture as intact as possible to make it easier to break into uneven pieces once baked after 40 minutes. Halfway through at the 20-minute mark, rotate the mixture to insure all ingredients are cooked evenly.
Remove pan from the oven and let granola cool for 5-10 minutes.
When cool, the granola should be quite intact and able to break into large or small pieces (it should be similar to the consistency of a cookie or crunchy granola bar).
Store the granola into 2 or 3 large mason jars and store in the pantry for up to 1-2 month