The versatile cereal that is granola

Our breakfast cereals have come a long way in recent years, and the general trend has been to move towards cereals packed with natural ingredients that are better for us than the traditional ones that need half a ton of sugar poured over the top to make them edible. Muesli has been with us for decades and this breakfast dish favoured by the Swiss had quite a cult following until it went mainstream and the latest must have, granola, is becoming the breakfast of choice for many.

Granola originated in North America where it is hugely popular both for breakfasts and as a snack. The basic recipe consists to nuts, honey, rolled oats and sometimes puffed rice, all of which are baked until they are crispy. The mixture is stirred during the baking process to maintain the loose consistency associated with a breakfast cereal, and other ingredients such as dried fruits of various kinds are added, which give is the differing varieties we see on the shelves in the supermarkets.

As well as eating it for breakfast and snacks, it is a staple component in the backpacks of Americans when they go hiking or camping due to it being easy to store, lightweight and high in calories for energy. Granola is very often eaten with honey, yoghurt, strawberries, blueberries and bananas, which all adds up to a great breakfast to get us going in the morning with the addition of semi skimmed milk.

An offshoot of granola is the growing popularity of snack bars, the quickest and most convenient way of getting a healthy snack on the move or at work and school. These can, however, prove to be quite expensive if you are buying a few packs a week for your family, and many don’t realise just how easy they are to make. The ones you make at home are tasty, healthy and much more cost effective and you will find an abundance of recipes online so there is easily one for everyone.

Granola snack bars come in many different flavours and there are chewy ones and crunchy ones. Some recipes have a ridiculously long list of ingredients while others have a few. To save time and effort the easiest way is to grab a bag of granola from the supermarket and use that rather than hunting down all the different ingredients. The great part of making your own is that you can experiment and throw in a few of your favourites, such as cherries or apples.

These snack bars are great for school lunch boxes or just to keep in your desk drawer and the best bit is you know exactly what is going into them, so no hyperactive kids from all the E numbers. It might have taken a while to get to these shores but granola has established itself and can now be found in kitchens across the UK, and you cannot deny its versatility. However you eat your granola, give these tasty snack bars a go and have some fun experimenting.