A Granola a Day keeps the Hunger Pangs at Bay

“Go ahead, try it! I’m telling you’re gonna love it.” my brother prodded us for the umpteenth time as the family sat at the table, looking suspiciously at the mushy cereal in the bowls in front of us. The mysterious contents of the cereal floating in the milk didn’t at all look as appealing as my brother made it sound with his lather of praise.

My bro who just returned to Pakistan a couple of days ago from the UK after finishing his studies, said that he has had it for breakfast almost every day in university life and never felt a single hunger pang till dinner.

“It’s highly nutritious and fulfilling. All my friends and all the girls in England ate it. It’ll keep you full the whole day, and you won’t need to eat anything at all!”

I gave a look to my sister, her face reflecting my expressions of uncertainty and confusion. Our eyes met, and we mutually agreed we definitely wanted to ‘eat nothing’ till night. Being used to three meals a day with a teatime in between, we had been subjected to constant criticism and bullying by our brother ever since he had returned to Pakistan. The blame of eating all day long was quite pressurizing and nerve-wracking for us.

“And it’ll help you flatten your bellies and correct your figures just like other girls.” My sister rolled her eyes. Boy had we been hearing that phrase. ‘Like other girls’ had become our brother’s favourite line to shoot at us. “Girls are so conscious of their diets and waists and bodies, and just LOOK at you two! Stuffing your faces with sugar and sitting around all day with no physical exercise ever since the lockdown began! Do you want to get diabetes or obesity or heart problems? You’re literally killing yourself! You’ll be bedridden at an early age!”

It was true. All of us at home had gained a little more weight ever since the lockdown routine began, and our brother had gone berserk at our lifestyles.

My sister finally conquered her doubts and tasted the first bite of was, after all, her who had found a recipe and baked it after tenacious carping from our brother. He had given one look of deceit and horror to the parathas on our breakfast table and banned them from the premises of the Mazhar household.

I immediately followed my sister and loaded a spoonful of the ‘healthy breakfast’ into my mouth. We chewed for a few seconds, taking in the flavors of the different seeds and grains soaked by the milk. Our brother looked from one face to the other, waiting anxiously for the praise he expected to start pouring in.

“It’s just a LOT of nuts and seeds rolling around my mouth. They’re very hard and chewy and difficult to munch on.” My sister remarked.

“I’d prefer my paratha or sandwich to this. It’s not a satisfying flavour for the tastebuds, you know” I piped in.

My brother started laughing.” You guys are so silly and desi! I give up! Go ahead with your fats-loaded breakfasts.”

We were quite sceptical about it at the beginning since we felt so full after just a few spoons but we were psychologically not ready to accept that our hunger had been ceased by just a few spoons full of a cereal.

One 45g serving of typical oatmeal granola contains 200 calories while a whole wheat paratha contains 126 calories.
One 45g serving of typical oatmeal granola contains 200 calories while a whole wheat paratha contains 126 calories.

A typical Pakistani breakfast includes an excellent paratha with lassi, a nob of butter with an omelet, Achaar(pickle), or Salan (gravy), followed by a Karak cup Doodh Patti. That was the usual breakfast we had at our house. There was the option of pancakes or toast or talking about winter, especially makai ki roti with Saag. The idea of such a short and simple breakfast, which didn’t even take five minutes to finish but otherwise filled you up, wasn’t very delightful.

The recipe includes

Wheat porridge, flaxseeds, sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds, melon seeds, coconut, almonds, cinnamon, and honey. These ingredients are being baked for 15 minutes at 250 degrees Celsius.

Ratios of the ingredients can vary according to the taste of different people. This breakfast is considered healthy because it contains no added oils other than the oils in the seeds. Its high in fibre and antioxidants and therefore a small amount will keep you energized throughout the day (literally). Also, it has no added sugar, It’s just the honey, which is a natural sweetener. The flaxseeds are amazing for your heart, for diabetics as well as for problems related to hormone imbalances. Granola is low in cholesterol as well, which makes it better than oily heavy breakfast options.

One 45g serving of typical oatmeal granola contains 200 calories while a whole wheat paratha contains 126 calories. I know this sounds more supportive for team paratha, but I must point out here that all the calories of the paratha are carbs, while granola includes complex carbohydrates and antioxidants. So, even if it is calorie-dense, it’s more nutrient-dense than a paratha too.

If you’re talking about granola bars from the market, Let me tell you that they have extra sugar and oils added to them, which makes them as fattening and unhealthy as your regular breakfast cereal. Companies and markets nowadays only tend to care about flavor and pumping up enthusiasm in buyers. They make a portion of completely nutritious food, unhealthy by adding extra sugar, sweetener, or preservatives which are basically chemicals. It leads to weight gain instead of weight loss. Also, many people may be allergic to one of the ingredients used in making granola, for example, many people are allergic to nuts and seeds.

It was Dr. Caleb Jackson of Dansville, New York, who invented this breakfast alternative in 1863. He was a farmer and social worker in his early life and later worked in hydropathy and diet and became a New York physician.

Nowadays, many companies make granola bars commercially with the addition of nuts and fruits.

Jayne Hurley, a senior nutritionist at the Centre of Science in the Public Interest, states that granola bars are ‘basically not health food but cookies masquerading as health food.’

 A comparison shows that a Nature Valley peanut butter granola bar contains as many calories but half as much fats as an average-sized Kitkat bar.

Image result for nature Valley peanut butter granola
This contains as many calories but half as much fats as an average-sized Kitkat bar.


So, is granola healthy or not? The punch-line is that it is very nutritious, most packaged varieties contain added sugar or calories and are therefore more damaging to our health.

Granola baked at home with only honey and no added sugar or oil is an excellent option, especially if you have to get up early and don’t have time to prepare breakfast. This is much better than your regular cereals, which are just overloaded with sugar and carbs and rarely any useful nutrients, despite their nutritional labels claiming them to be ‘power-packed’ breakfasts.