They say in America everything is bigger and better. Surely not everything, but this certainly holds when it comes to the world’s most popular breakfast foods: I’m talking about the granola vs muesli debate. Both are simple, filling, and (more or less) full of good stuff, but there are differences.
Granola, invented in Dansville, NY by Dr. James Caleb Jackson is a sweetened, baked cereal consisting of oats, nuts, seeds, often including mix-ins such as dried fruit or chocolate. Some kind of fat is also added to achieve the crumbly texture.
Muesli on the other hand, introduced by Swiss physician Maximilian Bircher-Benner, is neither baked nor sweetened, and not that crunchy either.
As a European I feel inclined to say how I enjoy the pure flavor of muesli, how much I appreciate the distinctness and the way oats, nuts and seeds complement one another, but I’ll cut the bullshit right there. Let’s face it: granola is just more delicious. That’s it, I’m sorry Max!
The perked-up version is more popular state-side and humble muesli on this side of the pond. We therefore don’t have such an impressive selection of baked cereals in our supermarkets here. And what we do have is quite expensive for what it is.
My old favorite comes in a big cardboard box with a small plastic bag inside containing just a handful of the simply too sweet stuff bind together with a not specified type of vegetable oil (how reassuring). A 100 g serving contains about 60 g carbohydrates and over 12 g fat. Wow. I still eye that fucker on the store shelf sometimes, but my body just deserves better.
Luckily, making the crunchy clusters at home couldn’t be easier! Replacing the processed, packaged kind is great not only because from now on it’s in your control what goes into your brekkie bowl (I loathe thee, raisin!). It doesn’t have to have a shitload of sugar and fat either!
(I was about to add reducing your ecological footprint too, but had to revise my opinion as the ingredients you’re about to use also come packaged. Bummer.)
Checked out many recipes and made a few batches until I found what works best for us. Granola is not an exact science, you have to tweak the ingredients to suit your taste, but that’s the beauty of it: having your own, special edition.
I wanted mine to be free of processed sugar, so I use bananas and a little honey instead to sweaten. Also decided to cut down on fat and substitute it with a healthier alternative: extra virgin olive oil, one of the richest in polyunsaturated fatty acids (a.k.a the good guys).
I use the same seed mix in my granola that I bake into my breads: equal parts sunflower seeds, sesame seeds, lint seeds and pumpkin seeds. As for the nuts, almonds and walnuts are our favorite, but hazelnuts and pecans are also a great choice. For mix-ins, I prefer spices. OK, sometimes I give in and add dark chocolate chips too. 🙂
This amount, kept in a glass jar, lasts for about a week in our house. I like to eat it with low-fat natural yogurt and berries that are a bit sour (just.love.blackcurrant.) while Husband is not that hard-core as he likes to put it, and prefers milk and banana slices drizzled with pure maple syrup.
See how a healthier, homemade granola is such a no-brainer:
A healthy take on store-bought cereals
3 cups rolled oats (half fine, half coarse)
1 cup walnuts, roughly chopped
½ cup almonds, whole or sliced
¼ cup seed mix (sesame, lint, sunflower, pumpkin)
1 tsp cinnamon
½ tsp nutmeg
½ tsp allspice
a handful of dark chocolate chips (optional)
2 ripe bananas, mashed
2 tbsp runny honey
1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
- Preheat oven to 180°C / 350°F, line baking tray with parchment paper.
- In two separate bowls, mix wet and dry ingredients except chocolate (if using).
- Combine wet & dry ingredients well to coat evenly.
- Spread mixture on baking tray in a thin layer.
- Bake for 30 min or until dark golden.
- Allow to cool, than crumble.
- Mix in chocolate chips, transfer granola to a glass jar or other airtight container.
How do you do breakfast cereal? I’d love to see some ideas so I can switch things up a bit from time to time.