My search continues for the healthiest granolas I can find, at least ones with no sugar added, and/or that are gluten-free. When I say ‘no sugar added,’ I mean no refined sugars, because every granola maker out there adds some kind of sweetener to their product, except for one that I know of: Go Raw, a purveyor of various raw, or “live,” foods, including bars, chips, cookies, and granola. Their minimalist granola, as I mentioned in my last “healthy granola” post, is dubbed Simple Granola, and is limited to just two ingredients- sprouted organic buckwheat groats and flax seeds, making them safe food for anyone (except those allergic to buckwheat or flax seeds, which I’m guessing is a very small number).
But a healthy granola doesn’t need to be that purist to qualify, does it? I think it just needs to be making its best efforts. Some prioritize towards organics, others towards gluten-free and/or refined sugar-free. Let’s start with the one that I’m most familiar with, and that I’ve found to be one of the best-tasting granolas around: Erin Baker’s. Erin Baker’s is a relatively modest company based in Bellingham, Wa., that produces breakfast cookies, organic brownies and brownie bites, and granola.
Considering that their foundation is baking and desserts, not the healthiest of foundations to be built upon, their granolas are relatively pure. Their Homestyle Granola series consists of Double Chocolate Chunk, Oatmeal Raisin, Fruit & Nut and my favorite, Peanut Butter. To find a granola that only uses honey, vanilla extract and molasses for sweetening is no mean thing, and the 7 grams of sugar for a 45 gram serving of the peanut butter flavor isn’t a bad ratio at all.
Is granola with honey, instead of sugar, ‘healthy granola?’
In keeping both with Erin’s own niche and my personal nutritional choice, I would definitely consider this to be a form of dessert as opposed to a breakfast, even though the sugar quantity is less than what you get from most Kashi cereals. I was hoping that the honey that Erin’s uses in their cereals might be raw honey, but alas, as I learned when I called them, it’s processed. This is a question I am going to be putting to several granola producers over the coming months: do you use raw honey or pasteurized/processed honey, and if the latter, would you consider using raw? Clearly this is a cost-saving choice (at least until I hear otherwise), since if you’re buying honey in bulk, the raw stuff (which, as I’ve discussed in my unrefined sugars resource, and elsewhere, is healthier both because it offers more vitamins and minerals, and has a lower glycemic index) could be as much as twice as expensive, at least by my guestimation.
So, as much as I’d love to adopt Erin’s as a great dessert granola because of its relatively progressive use of sugars, the fact that they use processed honey makes it less than ideal. Yet still, even with the mantra that ‘sugar is sugar,’ I’d much rather have my granola sweetened with processed honey than with brown sugar, evaporated cane juice, or just plain sugar. Hopefully it’s helpful for you to have Erin’s as an option to weight against other granolas, as dessert or otherwise, because as you may know it’s very challenging finding any good cereals with no sugar added. My search for healthy granolas continues…