Healthy Maple-Nut Granola


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Sports drinks, diet food, and energy bars.  All healthy options, right?

Not necessarily. Many foods that masquerade as health foods are really diet disasters in disguise.

Typically loaded with sugar and oil, granola is another one of these shady characters.  But I really like granola and have yet to find a better camping breakfast – all other cereals turn into a pile of crumbs after 2 days in a backpack.

Sugar-Free Granola?

I have tried a few sugar-free granola recipes and even a couple of oil-free granola recipes. But honestly, they were so … ummm … well … I’d rather eat plain oatmeal (and I’m not a big oatmeal fan). So I set out to create a healthier granola.

First on my list of objectionables was the sugar load. A typical granola recipe calls for about 1/2 to 3/4 cup of honey and/or sugar for every 3 cups of oats.  And granola you can buy at the grocery store often packs in over a cup of sugar for every 3 cups of oats. That’s as much sugar per serving as a Twinkie. Yikes!

So in my granola experiment I started out by replacing the white sugar with healthier options – turbinado sugar (Sugar-in-the-Raw) and pure maple syrup. Then I drastically reduced the sweetener amount overall and added dried fruit for natural sweetness. While I wasn’t able to eliminate the sugar completely, I reduced it to a healthier level and was happy to be able to use pure maple syrup – a better sweetener because it offers some vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants.

Oil-Free Granola?

Next on my black list was the oil. Once again, nearly every granola recipe I could find had a ridiculous amount of oil in it – usually about 1/2 cup oil for every 6 cups of oats.  (Even the “healthiest” oils are still 100% refined and 100% fat.)

I tried eliminating all of the oil in my granola recipe and using almond butter instead, but the granola turned out heavy and tough. So then I tried replacing most, but not all, of the oil with almond butter and adding some crispy rice cereal to lighten it up.

It came out great! Still not as healthy as plain oatmeal, but a whole lot tastier.

EDIT:  After I posted this recipe, I continued working on developing an oil-free granola recipe and came up with one that was absolutely amazingly scrumptious!!  It’s so light and tender, I even prefer it over granola that has oil in it. The recipe for this delicious oil-free granola is included in my Weight Loss Program.

About this Recipe:

Be sure to use pure maple syrup in this recipe.  Maple-flavored syrup, pancake syrup, and other similar products, in which the primary ingredient is usually corn syrup, not only contribute to weight gain, but have a negative effect on health as well.

For the crispy rice cereal, I’ve tried several brands, including Barbara’s Brown Rice Crisps, Edison Grainery Organic Brown Rice Crispies, One Degree Veganic Sprouted Brown Rice Crisps, and Nature’s Path Organic Brown Rice Crisps and they’re all very good. Nature’s Path and Edison Grainery are certified gluten-free, while Babara’s states that it’s manufactured in a facility that also processes wheat; so if gluten is an issue for you, be sure to choose the Nature’s Path or Edison Grainery brands.

One other consideration:

The Edison Grainery Organic Brown Rice Crispies contain only one healthy ingredient. (No added sweeteners.)


Healthy Maple-Nut Granola

The nutty-maple flavor combination of this yummy granola tastes dreamy with Coconut Brazil Nut Milk.
Cook Time 1 hr 30 mins
Course Breakfast
YIELD 7 cups (approximately)
All recipes on are property of jennifer’s kitchen and cannot be republished without written permission.



  • Preheat oven to 250°F.
  • Mix together first six ingredients in a very large mixing bowl.
  • In a separate bowl, using a fork or an electric mixer, cream together maple syrup, oil, almond butter, salt, vanilla, and maple flavor.
  • Drizzle wet mixture over dry ingredients. Gently toss with hands until all of the oats are moist, but do not over mix.
  • Lightly oil 1 large or 2 medium oiled baking sheets. Spread granola into a thin layer onto baking sheets. (I line my baking sheets with parchment paper because it makes clean-up so much easier.)
  • Bake on middle rack of oven at 250°F for 45 minutes. Remove from oven and stir. Continue baking for an additional 40 to 45 minutes or until granola is completely dry.
  • Remove from oven and allow to cool.
  • Stir in dried fruit. Store in an airtight container in a cool place.


Be sure to use rolled oats not quick oats in this recipe.
See “About this Recipe” above.

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More Granola and Oatmeal Recipes

Check out my other recipes using nutritious oats.

Have you tried any of these cereals or any of the other brands?  Which one is your favorite?

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  1. You are so right. The amount of sugar especially in all of these “healthy” foods is insane. And so many people think they are doing something good for themselves, shame 🙁 BUT your granola on the other hand is a rock and I love anything and everything maple, it’s probably the Canadian in me. What maple flavoring do you use that’s not full of junk? Thanks Jennifer!

      1. Lol! 🙂
        Hi Meg
        Cooks makes a maple extract that is simply organic maple syrup, alcohol, and water; however, I prefer to avoid alcohol (and studies show it doesn’t “bake out” completely), so I sometimes use Frontier Maple Flavor since it’s alcohol-free. Unfortunately, I’m not completely happy with the ingredients in the Frontier maple either, but I haven’t been able to find anything better.

        Sooooo, I often leave it out completely when I’m making this granola and it’s still good. But it does taste best with some type of maple flavor in it! 🙂

  2. Jennifer,
    I have been going through recipes looking for a recipe for granola bars. I am looking for the healthiest recipe that I can form into bars . I’m going to take issue with a couple of your statements about nutrition. First, I am looking for a recipe that uses oil. Most liquid oils are pretty much interchangeable. I use walnut oil, since it is rich in omega-3 fatty acids. I won’t use coconut oil, since it has quite a bit of saturated fat. The Jury is out on whether the medium chain triglycerides in coconut oil are good or bad for your heart. Walnut oil has only 1.5 g. of sat. fat per tablespoon. It has 2 g. of monunsaturated fat. Second, I have some maple syrup that I want to use up. So I was looking for a recipe that called for maple syrup. Maple syrup has a lot of sugar content. Per my nutritionist, sugar is sugar is sugar. Just like a calorie is a calorie is a calorie.
    That being said, I do want to use my maple syrup, and all the oats in the granola are a nutrition plus. I’ll look until I find a recipe that will make bars instead of loose granola, mostly for convenience in carrying and eating. Thanks for your attention.

  3. I love your site and thanks for all the recipes and important health info. What brand of oats do you use? I was using Bob’s Red Mill organic, gluten free but now they have been found to contain glyphosate.
    Thank you.

    1. Good question, M. We try to eat healthy, and so when we find that there are pesticides in food that we thought was safe, it can be quite disturbing.

      There were several different brands of oats tested, and test results from Bob’s Red Mill Organic Oats showed 0 to .02 glyphosate parts per million. The legal limit set for the United States 30 parts per million. Europe has stricter regulations in these matters, and sets their legal limit at 20 parts per million.

      Please note that some of the articles about glyphosate in oats are reporting the glyphosate amounts in parts per billion instead of the standard parts per million. And 20 parts per billion sounds a lot worse than .02 parts per million – even though it is the exact same amount.

      While “legal” does not necessarily mean “safe”, and I wish that every sample tested at 0; I believe, in the age of chemicals that we live in, that 0 to .02 ppm is probably as safe as we can expect and is as safe as just about any other food we eat.

      I also think that is important to note that the testing that was done on oats was part of an independent research project, and the results have not been published or peer-reviewed. It doesn’t mean that the results are not true, but they would gain more credibility if the results were peer-reviewed.

      So, at 0 to .02 ppm, I am comfortable using Bob’s Red Mill Organic Oats. Oats are rich in fiber and important nutrients, and are a very healthy way to lower cholesterol and prevent diabetes. (Much better option than cholesterol-lowering drugs or diabetes medications!) Oats are also rich in antioxidants and other nutrients that help prevent disease.

      I hope this is helpful. Thanks for your question.


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