Saturday, July 24, 2010

Fun with Granola and the Benefits of Oats

While Yoni Freedhoff was exposing the 12 different sugar sources hiding in Kellogg's new faux-healthy FiberPlus Antioxidants cereals, guess what I was doing?

I was filling my cereal bowl with my first ever batch of homemade granola!

Unless you know that granola = raw oats drizzled with something sweet and sticky and then baked until crispy and dry, the stuff seems like some sort elusive substance that can only be made by commercial means. Or it seems like something that occurs naturally in nature, like my husband thought. "You can't just make granola! You have to grow it!" Needless to say, making my own granola made me feel like a wizard.

Not all low carbers may feel comfortable eating granola, especially in early phases of diets like Atkins or South Beach. Looking at the carb count on a package of oats might cause a little bit of sticker shock for someone who's limiting net carbs to 20 or 30 a day. However, I'm beginning to regard oats as one of those exception foods (like yogurt) that should be sought out as part of a healthy diet rather than avoided. Jonny Bowden deems oatmeal a nutritional superfood in his book The 150 Healthiest Foods on Earth, and he has this to say about it:
Oatmeal has a place on virtually everyone's "best foods" list. It's the Muhammad Ali of foods -- everybody loves it, no matter where you stand in your dietary philosphy. Even those who are stringent about keeping carbs low soften a bit when it comes to oatmeal. The "guru" of diabetic diets, Dr. Richard Bernstein, who, one might say jokingly, "never met a carb he didn't dislike," allows oatmeal once a day for his diabetic patients.
He also goes on to discuss all of the amazing benefits of eating oats (whether in oatmeal form or not), including their extremely low glycemic load and their high level of beta-glucan, a soluble fiber that has been shown to help stabilize blood sugar. A low-carber's dream, right?

For the granola, I did the slightest low-carb hack on this amazing recipe from Shauna James Ahern of Gluten-Free Girl and the Chef, omitting the dried fruit and substituting the regular maple syrup with sugar free. I also used plain old Quaker Oats instead of the special gluten free kind. I halved the recipe since I wasn't sure how it would turn out, but my second batch just came out of the oven, and this time I made it in full, because damn. In a bowl with some almond milk poured over it, this stuff tastes like a mapley, gingery version of Honey Bunches of Oats. And I just found my new favorite breakfast.