When my favorite variety of Greek yogurt was on sale 10 for $10, I stocked up. If you were to open my fridge, especially a week ago, you’d think I was on a Greek yogurt binge or cleanse. Due to the plentiful amount of protein in Greek yogurt, I love to have it at breakfast for some serious staying power. Plus, it travels really well to work, campus, or where ever I’m off to.
Normally I pair my yogurt with a piece of fruit, but here lately, I wanted a change. I wanted granola, but not a variety that was loaded with carbs and sugar. I did a little research and found a recipe that used cranberries and apple cider — how fitting for this time of year!
Most of the recipe ingredients are staple, non-perishables in my pantry and offer up lots of nutrition. The more nuts and seeds I can include in my diet, the better. I, along with most Americans, likely don’t intake enough heart-healthy mono and polyunsaturated fatty acids. Which are not only essential, but help keep cholesterol levels within desirable ranges.
This mission has become especially important to me as my last two lipid panels from 2010 and 2011 reveal a slightly elevated LDL. To those in the nutrition world and who work with chronic disease management, an LDL above 100 is elevated, while most diagnostic ranges recognize up to 130 as within normal limits. Mine are 118.
That said, my HDL is great and my triglycerides are well below the recommended 150 or less. And my HDL:LDL ratio is great. Still, though, I hate having an LDL above 100! I am wise enough to know that cholesterol is, at least in part, genetic…but I want to include more healthy fats (mono and polyunsaturated fatty acids) and less saturated (read: cheese…even low-fat). Of course I say that we enter casserole season…
On a positive note, and since I haven’t talked about my PCOS management in LONG time…my average blood glucose is down 7 mg/dl. Is that a lot? No. But it wasn’t much out of range to begin with. And, I weigh 5-6 pounds less than this time last year, too!
Going into the holiday season with all the food, sugar, and butter, it’s important for me to remember the strides I have made health-wise in the last year — and the ones I still need to improve upon. My weight is a continuous battle, but keeping my blood sugars where they should be can help me work towards my happy weight.
And this recipe, is packed with lots of the good. Rich in heart-healthy fats, antioxidants, and fiber. Oh, and perfect to sprinkle over your morning yogurt, or to create a little yogurt parfait!
Cran-Apple Spice Granola inspired by Lexie’s Kitchen
1 cup unsalted pistachios
3/4 cup raw pepitas
3/4 cup unsalted sunflower seeds
1 cup unsweetened dried coconut
1/2 cup dried cranberries
1 cup old-fashioned oats
1 cup fresh cranberries
1/3 cup fresh apple cider
3 Tbsp maple syrup
1 Tbsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp dried ginger
Preheat oven to 350 F.
Blend the fresh cranberries, apple cider, maple syrup, cinnamon and ginger in a blender or food processor.
Combine remaining ingredients in a large bowl and toss to combine.
Drizzle the cranberry-cider mixture over the dry ingredients and toss to coat.
Line a baking sheet with foil and spray with non-stick cooking spray. Arrange the granola in a single layer and bake for 30-35 minutes, stirring every 15 minutes. Allow to cool (and harden) before serving. Store in an airtight container for up to 10 days. Yield: ~5 1/2 cups (22 servings – 1/4 cup each).
Nutrition Information (per serving): 132 calories; 8.6 g. fat; 0 mg. cholesterol; 29 mg. sodium; 10.9 g. carbohydrate; 2.1 g. fiber; 3.5 g. protein
Result: Crunchy, nutty, and faintly sweet. This recipe is simple to make and keeps well in an air-tight container for up to 2 weeks. It’s a great way to bring festive fall flavors to breakfast, leaving behind all the sugar and butter. Enjoy!