Granola is supposed to be healthy, right? Yet too often a small serving is surprisingly high in sugar and calories. Happily, Lolita figured out a way to do it differently. Lucky for us, she shared her trade secrets!
Granola is supposed to be healthy, but so often the first or second ingredient is sugar. All too often, sugar alternatives like honey, maple syrup, coconut sugar, cane syrup and brown rice syrup follow closely behind.
We consume a lot of granola in my house, whether in breakfast bowls or by the handful. So in order to better control the ingredients, I bake a lot of granola!
On a trip to my favorite neighborhood market last summer, I spied a bag of Lolita’s granola that intrigued me. (More on Lolita soon!) Unlike the usual suspects, this ingredient list named a single sweetener－maple syrup. But there’s more to this story.
The complete ingredient list reads as follows:
- Gluten-free oats
- Quinoa flakes (stay tuned for options!)
- Pumpkin seeds
- Sunflower seeds
- Maple Syrup
- Coconut oil
- Sea salt
Not only is maple syrup the sole sweetener, it’s number 5 on the list, followed only by coconut oil and a smattering of natural flavorings and spices. What’s more, the first four ingredients balance complex carbohydrates (wholesome grains) with plant-based protein (nutrient-rich seeds).
Additionally, many store-bought granola contain nuts. The use of two kinds of seeds instead of nuts in this granola makes it friendly to those with a nut allergy, as well as an excellent source of a plethora of important minerals and heart-healthy omega-3s.
(Note: Despite its name, coconut is not a nut; it is a fruit. That said, the FDA considers it a tree nut, which is why it’s included in U.S. labeling laws. Those who have reason to avoid it should do so, although coconut allergies are believed to be relatively uncommon even among those with tree nut allergies. Source: Allergic Living.)
As mentioned, handfuls of whole grain granolas have long been a preferred snack, and I frequently use them in speedy yogurt and fruit bowls for a crunchy, naturally sweet, protein-rich start to the day.
My current favorite breakfast bowl combination: a fruit-heavy third of a cup or so of blueberries and pomegranate seeds (from a frozen bag, would you believe?! see linked photo below for details) and one banana chopped (rather than sliced for better integration…trust me on this－and you can do it right in the peel by partially peeling and slicing down crossways from the point a few inches at a time and then slicing right into the bowl). Of course, you can eyeball and mix and match your fruit as you like.
Once the fruit is in the bowl, I stir in about 1/3 of a cup of yogurt to form an evenly coated fruit mixture (I use the yogurt more as a binder than a base) and then sprinkle a lightly rounded 1/4 cup of granola overtop and, for full appreciation of the crunch, stir no more. My final touch is a dusting of Superseedz pumpkin seeds in Maple Sugar and Sea Salt. The salty sweet combination is superb, but you may absolutely use your favorite nuts, seeds or stick with granola only. (Locally, Superseedz are available at Giant, and I do prefer the maple sugar variety to the cinnamon sugar option. They have spicy and other varieties that I have not tried.)
I’ve made these easy bowls a worthy year-round option by experimenting with a variety of fruits beyond the usual suspects. ⇩⇩ I consider the “recipe” more like a perfected technique. The bowl shown below can be found here. For more information, including other tips and a recommended dairy-free yogurt, you may enjoy my post on “how to build a better yogurt bowl.”)
The yogurt bowl digression seemed justified, as they allow for an easy, healthy, customizable and truly satisfying meal. But back to Lolita and her granola!
Given the ever-present demand for granola in this household, I sometimes struggle to maintain the supply. I’ve been reluctant to purchase it because (aside from the small detail that cooking is what I do!) so many store-bought options are extremely high in the aforementioned added sugars and contain “extra” ingredients that we don’t always want.
But thanks to its wholesome ingredient list, I felt compelled to put Lolita’s granola to the test. After all, what’s a low-sugar granola if it doesn’t taste good?
The flavor was, in fact, a touch less sweet and the texture somewhat looser than the chunky granola I often bake at home, but I liked it – and the tempered sweetness and simplicity grew on me. I bought it again.
Soon after, I had the privilege of meeting the woman behind the name on the bag. Lolita Haverstick is the one-woman powerhouse behind Abundant Earth Kitchen, a locally owned and operated commercial kitchen that offers gluten-free, organic prepared foods (many items are also dairy-free and vegan), which are sold through Lemon Street Market and a variety of co-ops.
Lolita and I sat down and talked for a while, and she told me about the inspiration behind her cooking and the journey from operating out of her personal kitchen to building a true commercial space.
Lolita is the sort of person with whom you’d enjoy having a cup of coffee or tea on a regular basis. (And she might even give you samples of her chocolate chip cookies and brownies!)
As a side note, in the first year of my blog, I tried to replicate Abundant Earth’s Curried Quinoa and Apple Salad, having tried it at Lemon Street. I didn’t know Lolita then, and I’ve been thinking I should ask her how close my copycat version is to her actual recipe!
Generous as she is, Lolita shared several of her baked goods recipes with me, including her namesake granola. She was also more than happy for me to pass her recipes along to my readers.
As I often do, I have included a few adjustments that I’ve made over time, in hopes of accommodating personal preferences and ingredients you may have on hand. None of these changes fundamentally alter the recipe.
If you’re local, I give you my blessing to stop by Lemon Street and let Lolita do the baking for you. However, Lolita kindly gives you the blessing to run with her recipe and and make it over and over again in your own kitchen.
Lolita’s Low-Sugar Granola:
- Customizable (I’ve used flax meal instead of the quinoa flakes, and Lolita has used coconut nectar in place of the maple syrup. Added coconut is optional. Dried fruit could also be stirred into the cooled granola.)
- Naturally sweetened and low in sugars
- Uses seeds instead of nuts
- Is vegan and gluten-free with use of certified GF oats
- Makes a big batch that keep for a month or so at room temperature and may be refrigerated or frozen for longer storage
- Loose as opposed to chunky – perfect for yogurt bowls, snacks, etc.
- Locally baked － whether you buy from Lolita or make it yourself 😋
Whether you decide to buy it or bake it, Lolita and I would love to see your feedback in the comment section below. Locals who have tried Lolita’s products should feel free to mention personal favorites. I might just have the recipe －and Lolita’s gracious offer to share!