Is there such a thing as ‘Healthy Granola’? The hunt for granolas with no sugar added (part 1)

The word “cereal” has a different connotation in the United States than it does in the rest of the world.  Here the word carries all kinds of heft:  it can mean one of our most common breakfasts, and afternoon snack, dessert, or one of the big go-tos when you’ve got the munchies.  Elsewhere in the world it simply refers to a simple cooked grain, or perhaps a rather unremarkable food or breakfast food.  When you change the word to ‘granola,’ meanwhile, our connotation here in the U.S. and that of people in the rest of the world gets closer together.

I have all kinds of rapturous memories and associations with this food called granola, starting from the great-tasting versions that I had growing up, such as Quaker 100% Natural (which, when you look at its ingredients, you realize is just a hair short of 100% natural), and continuing all the way to the present, in which I find myself continuously asking the question:  is there any healthy granola out there?  To which you might answer in response:  what do you mean by “healthy?”  The short answer is that healthy granola is granola with no sugar added.  Again, another question:  what do you mean by “sugar?”  If you mean any form of sugar, including molasses, maple syrup, or honey, then the answer would be, for the most part, No; can a granola still be a granola if it’s not sweetened at all?

There is a brand that I just discovered called Go Raw which makes what has to be the purest, healthiest, simplest granola that exists:  they call it Simple Granola, and it’s only two ingredients are organic buckwheat groats and sprouted organic flax seeds, making it qualify for every category of health, environmental, and allergy-consciousness: gluten-free, wheat-free, soy-free, vegan, and, most relevant here, sugar-free.  Now that’s a healthy granola.  I have not yet sampled it, however, so I can’t give you the low-down, but my bet is that however decent its texture, you’d have to be one of those super-healthy, given-up-sugar-for-decades hardcores to be satisfied without at least adding a little something- raw honey, molasses, even a little stevia.

The good news is that Go Raw – which, again, appears to me to be the healthiest granola producer short of mother nature herself – also makes more colorful versions of granola, including the naturally sweetened Apple Cinnamon (organic unsulphered apples, organic date and coconut, etc.), and their Live Granola (same as Simple plus organic date and raisins as well); the bad news is that they’re really expensive, at just under $20 for two 1-pound bags, in other words a buck a pound.  On the other hand, if you’re someone of means, wouldn’t you spend $10 or more a pound for semi-exotic wild seafood, or for chanterelle or morel mushrooms (actually you’d probably spend quite a bit more per pound for the mushrooms)?  Of course you would.  So maybe this granola, Go Raw, is the highest end of granolas, and what you pay for is what you get: the highest quality, truly no sugar added healthy granola.

Of course I need to do my homework- I need to get out there and do some taste-testing, and report back to you.  In the meantime, if you’ve had any version of Go Raw granola yourself, I’d love to hear about it.  Or if you have any votes for other no sugar added, healthy granolas, please do fill me in!  Coming next:  more investigations into healthy granola options out there.

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