How to get the most out of your granola.
Granola has long been a word associated with health food, but what are the actual health benefits of granola, and how can you maximize them to start your day off right?
Maria Sharperson and Allie Spadaro started selling bags of their Minneøats granola in 2020 when the pandemic forced them to push pause on their oatmeal catering business. Even after lockdowns ended and their catering came back, the duo continued to make granola.
“We never thought we’d be a granola company,” Sharperson says. “It was purely a COVID-19 pivot.”
Up until that point, granola had served solely as a topping for their Instagram-worthy oatmeal bowls, but today, they bake around 300 pounds of crunchy granola clusters each week at MSP Kitchenry in Plymouth.
“Now, we ship nationwide and are available at 15 local retailers,” says Sharperson. Distribution didn’t stop at 15, and Minneøats granola is continually accepting applications from new retailers in the Twin Cities and beyond.
Developed in the mid-1800s to moderate acclaim, granola gained a foothold in the 1960s and 1970s as it became associated with the back-to-nature movement. It’s been a staple of the cereal aisle since.
According to Hy-Vee registered dietitian Alea Lester Fite, traditional granola is a combination of rolled oats, nuts and a sweetener like sugar or honey. “Beyond these traditional ingredients, you can find varieties that include everything from seeds to dried fruit and a wide range of different spices and flavors,” Lester Fite says.
Minneøats specializes in a Maple Almond Granola, containing old-fashioned oats and almonds. It is lightly sweetened with coconut flakes, sugar and pure maple syrup with hints of cinnamon and Himalayan sea salt. “It’s the perfect sweet and salty taste,” Sharperson says. It’s sold in packages as small as 2 ounces and as large as 10 pounds.
Sharperson likes that the Minneøats granola comes as small clusters instead of a bag of grains. “It’s perfect for breakfast or a snack-sized treat,” she says.
It’s also a snack you can generally feel good about with the combination of good fats, fiber and heart-healthy oats. “The rolled oats in granola are a great source of fiber, protein, magnesium, iron and more,” Lester Fite says. “The nuts included provide another source of protein, as well as healthy fats. All this combined makes for a nutritious addition to your diet.”
To maximize the nutrition value, both Sharperson and Lester Fite recommend pairing it with Greek yogurt. “You get added protein and calcium,” Sharperson says.
Lester Fite recommends topping that with fresh fruit for additional fiber and nutrients.
Sharperson says the granola also makes a delicious addition to chia seed pudding for an Omega-3 boost, as well as smoothies. For a more decadent treat, Sharperson says it is equally delicious sprinkled on ice cream, topping apple crisp or drizzled with dark chocolate.
When it comes to choosing a healthy granola among the myriad of options out there, Lester Fite says consumers should check labels. “Not all granolas are created equal, so it is always a good idea to check the nutrition label and read the list of ingredients” she says.
“The main thing that health-conscious shoppers should look at when selecting a granola is the sugar content,” Lester Fite says. “Some granola options can be really high in added sugars.”
Lester Fite recommends choosing a variety with 10 grams or less of added sugar per half cup serving.
Sharperson says they are mindful and intentional about their ingredients, adding that they are proud of how clean their ingredient deck is.
Get the Most out of Your Granola
- 2 apples of your choice
- 1/3 cup of natural nut butter
- 1/4–1/3 cup of Minneøats Maple Almond Granola
Wash the apples and cut the apples into 1/4-inch slices. Lay the apples on a plate with the apple slices facing up. Heat the nut butter either on the stove top or in the microwave until warm and slightly runny. Drizzle the nut butter on the apples. Top with Minneøats Maple Almond Granola.
Vegan Chia Seed Pudding
- 3/4 cup of liquid (dairy free milk or water)
- 1 Tbsp. maple syrup
- 1 tsp. vanilla
- 3 Tbsp. chia seeds
- 1 Tbsp. natural nut butter
- 1/3 of a banana
- 1/4 cup Minneøats Maple Almond Granola
In a container with a tight seal lid, add liquid, maple syrup, vanilla and chia seeds. Stir well and let sit for one to two minutes. Then place the mixture in a refrigerator overnight. When you’re ready to eat, add banana, nut butter and granola.