What Is Granola, Actually?

It’s the crunchy treat that hippies can’t get enough of—no, I’m not talking about vegan nachos at a Phish concert. I’m talking about granola! But why is granola associated with hippies anyway? What is granola made of? How do you make granola? Chill out, I’m going to answer all these and more.

What is granola?

Granola is a classic, healthyish dish, usually eaten for breakfast, as a snack on the go, or as a yogurt topping. Okay, but what is granola made of? Well, there are many variations. But classic granola is made of rolled oats, crushed nuts and seeds, honey, and usually some other sweeteners like brown sugar. This concoction is baked to give it a nice crispy texture. 

Granola came about in 1800s America during the cereal wars. At the time, health nuts were opening asylums promoting healthy diets, good digestion, sexual restraint, and enemas. Cold breakfast cereal such as Corn Flakes came out of these asylums, as did the original granola. Dr. James Caleb Jackson baked graham flour into brittle cakes then crumbled it and baked it again. He called this stuff granula. Another asylum owner, Dr. John Harvey Kellogg, made a similar dish with wheat flour, oatmeal, and cornmeal. He also called it granula. A lawsuit forced Kellogg to change the spelling to granola. Ta-da! When sugary cereals were all the rage in the 1960s, granola made a comeback in the health food space, which at the time was fueled by the hippie movement. 

How do you make granola, now?

These days, granola isn’t a crumbled mix of flours and meals and you don’t have to be a doctor to make it. You can make granola by mixing some old fashioned oats, nuts and seeds, a neutral oil, and honey all together, then baking until crispy. You can add other grains for texture, like puffed rice or barley. Dried fruit is alway an option as well.

Is granola a grain?

No, granola itself is not a grain—but it is made with grains, usually whole grain oats. 

Is granola gluten-free?

A basic granola made with just oats, nuts, and honey could be gluten-free as pure oats do not contain gluten. However, oats are often processed on machines that also move wheat and barley so cross-contamination is a high probability. 

Is granola keto?

Most granola is not keto friendly, as it contains high amounts of sugar. But there are some keto granola options out there such as Kiss My Keto, one of the best granola brands, according to the Sporked ranking. 

How to eat granola?

The most popular way to eat granola is with some cold milk (like cereal) or mixed with yogurt and fruit. Of course, you can also eat it as a bar—a granola bar. Or some folks like to pack granola as a snack for long hikes, as it keeps relatively well, is calorically dense, and has a sugary punch for energy. 

Does granola go bad?

Granola stores well and keeps for a long time. You can probably store granola for around six months, but if it smells rancid, throw it out because it can go bad. 

Even though some granola is high in sugar and saturated fat, it can be a relatively healthy food. Granola is high in fiber and has some protein making it calorically dense so it can make you feel fuller for longer. I eat a ton of granola which is probably why so many people tell me I’m full of it.

About the Author

Will Morgan

Will Morgan, a freelance contributor to Sporked, is an L.A. based writer, actor, and sketch comedy guy. Originally from Houston, TX, he strongly believes in the superiority of breakfast tacos to breakfast burritos. Will traveled the world as one of those people that did yoyo shows at elementary school assemblies, always making a point to find local and regional foods to explore in whatever place he was, even in rinky-dink towns like Tilsonberg, ON. Will spends his birthdays at Benihana’s. Let him know if can make it.

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