Low GI Quinoa Granola
This low-GI version of your favourite breakfast will keep you going all the way to lunchtime, with no mid-morning crash!
Serves: 6 • Prep Time: N/A • Cook Time: 35 mins
Low GI Quinoa Granola
Pulling together a quinoa-based granola and cutting the sugar.
One of my favourite breakfasts is a nice bit of crunchy granola with Greek yogurt and fresh fruit. If I have a little time to make my granola from scratch rather than buying a box, that’s even better. Recently, I’ve begun experimenting with adding quinoa to my homemade granola. I know what you’re thinking: granola is pretty healthy. Why overwork the “all quinoa all the time” idea? Doesn’t take long for the family to get sick of hearing it.
Well, as healthy as it sounds, granola doesn’t always make the healthiest of breakfasts. The shop-bought version is often loaded up with syrup, chocolate chips, and all sorts of naughty bits – which, while beyond delicious, don’t exactly start you off on the right foot for a healthy day. If the granola is making heavy use of sugars to get you to buy it and eat it, then you can be sure that a sugar crash of some scale is coming, and hitting that mid-morning doesn’t usually lead to a productive day at work. Plus, I don’t know about you, but if I’ve already eaten chocolate before 8am, the chance of me then choosing a salad at lunchtime is slim to none – what’s the point when the day’s healthy eating is already ruined, right?
That’s where quinoa granola comes in. This quinoa granola recipe is granola made healthy, and it’s just as delicious as the sticky, sugary version, without dropping you flat.
Trading out some of the oats in your granola for quinoa means you’re getting a wider variety of nutrients in your breakfast; amongst other things, quinoa has more calcium, vitamin C, and vitamin A than oats
Trading out some of the oats in your granola for quinoa means you’re getting a wider variety of nutrients in your breakfast; amongst other things, quinoa has more calcium, vitamin C, and vitamin A than oats. The recipe does use some oats alongside the quinoa, since oats contain some great nutrients, too (such as potassium, magnesium and iron), and we all know that a varied diet is the goal for optimum health. The more healthy ingredients you can cram into your granola without diminishing your enjoyment, the more likely you’ll make this recipe a long-term morning staple.
Of course, adding quinoa to your granola doesn’t automatically cancel out the syrup and chocolate (if only!), so you’ll need to consider trading those out too.
The main question with granola is that it requires a binding agent to hold it all together while it gently bakes in the oven. I use honey as my binder. If you do the same, try going for a locally produced honey, as this has been said to help with pollen allergy – as well as clocking up fewer food miles! It’s also best to use a honey that’s minimally processed, as these honeys tend to have a lower glycemic index.
Remember: if a food has a low glycemic index, it just means that its sugars are released gradually, rather than giving you a huge sugar rush as soon as you’re done eating. Choosing a breakfast with a lower glycemic index mean that you get to enjoy a sweet start to your morning, whilst also avoiding that mid-morning sugar slump! And since the whole point of breakfast is to keep you going until lunch, a low GI breakfast is what we’re aiming for.
Other low GI syrups that you could use are agave syrup (310 calories per 100g), maple syrup (260 calories per 100g) or brown rice syrup (392 calories per 100g). All of these syrups have pros and cons, so just try them out to see which is your favourite. They should all help to stick your granola together into the perfect little clumps.
Since I like my granola super sweet, I also added a spoonful of coconut sugar. It’s just sap from a coconut tree that has been evaporated to form a sugar-like substance, and it’s (you guessed it) got a really low GI. Again, there are plenty of alternatives to add a bit of extra sweetness to your quinoa granola: just experiment a bit and find your favourite!
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Quinoa granola mix-ins
Now we’ve got the base of our quinoa granola – oats, quinoa (obviously!), and something sticky to hold it all together. Now comes the fun part: the mix-ins! You can choose whatever mix-ins you fancy, and be as naughty or nice as you like.
This time I chose to be fairly nice, and went for healthy mix-ins: flaked almonds and dried cherries. The combination of almonds and cherries works really well in a bakewell tart, so why not in my granola! And I was right; it was great.
But the combinations are endless, so if you’re not keen on my choices, feel free to choose something different. It’s nice try something new every time for a bit of variety. Any nuts, dried fruit and seeds will work (maybe save the chocolate chips for a weekend). How about walnuts and dried bananas, or coconut and dried mango? Don’t forget the pinch of salt to help bring out the flavours.
If you’re trying to watch your calorie intake, be aware that dried fruit and nuts are fairly high in sugar and fat respectively, so don’t go overboard – just a small handful of each is enough to add a great flavour to your quinoa granola. Some nuts are slightly lower in calories than others (for example, pistachios contain just 562 calories per 100g, compared to 690 calories in 100g of pecans), so do your research, and choose what’s best for you.
I love serving my granola with a big scoop of my beloved Greek yogurt and some fresh fruit, but you can also serve it cereal-style, in a bowl of cold milk. The great thing about granola is that it doesn’t go soggy in the same way that cereal does, so it’s perfect for those busy mornings when you can only manage one spoonful of granola every few minutes, in between hair brushing and mascara application (I’d probably save the tooth brushing for afterwards!).
Have you ever put quinoa in your granola? Or, do you have another favourite way to make quinoa worthy of your breakfast table? Let us know about your favourite breakfast quinoa recipes over in the Forq app!
Here’s how to make this delicious recipe
Cook the quinoa in a pan of water until the quinoa is soft and the spiral-shaped germ has detached.
Heat the oven to 190°C (Gas Mark 5 / 375°F).
In a large bowl, combine the cooked quinoa with the remaining ingredients. The coconut sugar (or other sweetener) is optional – only add it if you like your granola to be particularly sweet. Mix thoroughly.
Transfer the mixture to a baking tray (I lined mine with baking paper for an easy clean-up), and spread it out evenly.
Place in the oven, and bake for about 30 minutes, stirring every ten minutes to ensure it cooks evenly, until the granola is golden brown and crispy. Leave to cool. Store in an air-tight container.
The final masterpiece
- 100g (~1/2 cup) quinoa
- 100g (~1 cup) rolled oats
- 1 tbsp dried fruit (I used dried cherries)
- Pinch of salt
- 1 tbsp flaked almonds
- 1 tbsp oil
- 3 tbsp honey
- 1 tbsp coconut sugar or favorite sweetener (optional)
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Who’s Cooking Today
Becca Pusey is a freelance recipe developer and food writer based in Hertfordshire, UK. She blogs over at Amuse Your Bouche, where she shares her favourite simple vegetarian recipes using everyday ingredients. She aims to show that vegetarian food can be just as easy to make, just as satisfying, and just as tasty as any meat dish. Oh, and she likes cheese, a lot.
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