Breakfast is one of the most important meals of the day. Your body really needs a healthy breakfast to have the energy it needs to get you through until evening. I enjoy making hot breakfasts for myself and the kids when I have time.  Weekday mornings tend to be really crazy and cooking a hot breakfast isn’t something I have time to do most mornings.

How to Choose a Healthy Granola

During the week, we usually eat dry cereal of some sort for breakfast. When it’s cold outside, I often choose oatmeal or cream of wheat. When it’s warmer, we have a healthy cold cereal. But what makes a cold cereal healthy?  Most say they’re healthy on the box, but is it true?

When people hear the word granola, many automatically think a bowl of granola makes a healthy breakfast. We’ve been told for years that granola is healthy but is it really? Not all granola cereals are created equally and some are healthier than others. These are things you should look for when making your decision.

  • Sugar – All granola will have some type of sweetener in different amounts. The kind of sweetener used depends on the brand. Healthier choices would be honey or agave nectar. Less healthy choices would include high fructose corn syrup or evaporated cane juice.
  • Calories – Depending on the sugar and fat content, granola can have upwards of 400 calories per serving. For the healthier choice, look for granola with about 200 calories per serving, which is generally for about 1/2 cup.
  • Fat content – Typically the sweetener and the fat are what keep the granola pieces together.  Added fat can also come from things like nuts and omega 3’s. You will want to choose a granola that has about 2-3 grams of fat per serving. Be aware of the type of fat added and avoid palm oil and hydrogenated oils which are not heart healthy.
  • Add ins – Check out the extras that have been added into your granola.  Typical add ins can include nuts, dried fruits, seeds and coconut. Some granola cereals also add in things like chocolate and candy pieces to make it more attractive. The healthier granola will not have chocolate and candy added into it.
  • Fillers – Look for fillers that have been added to your granola like inulin, soy protein isolate and artificial colors and sweeteners. If you don’t recognize it as a food, it’s probably not a healthy choice.

Another thing to be aware of when enjoying granola is the serving size. Many people simply fill their cereal bowl full of what they assume is a serving of granola. Unfortunately granola has a serving size of about 1/2 cup. That is far less than what most people put in their bowl. Even if you choose a healthy granola, eating three servings for breakfast isn’t a healthy choice. If you’re note sure what’s in your granola, you can always make your own!

What is your favorite granola?