If there’s one word synonymous with “hippie” it may just be “granola.” Both are often used to imply a lackadaisical lifestyle. But nothing could be further from the truth on both accounts. Like hippies, granola has changed our relationship to a number of areas of life. Granola is more than just a breakfast option. It’s a veritable delivery method for healthy goodness. These vegan granola options prove it.
What Is Granola?
Today’s cereal aisles are bogged with options. From the classic flakes and Os to everything in between. But there’s no disguising granola. It’s a timeless breakfast staple. But what exactly is granola?
Granola is typically an oat-based cluster cereal. Beyond the oat base, there are myriad options to mix in, from adding nuts and seeds to dried fruits, even chocolate and superfoods. The dry ingredients are mixed together with sweeteners and oil and then baked until crisp and golden. The granola is then broken up into clusters or chunks (or left in larger pieces for granola bars).
Is Granola Vegan?
Granola is often sweetened in one of two ways: maple syrup or honey. Maple syrup comes from the sap of a maple tree, making it vegan. But honey is an animal product, coming from bees. There are other sweeteners used in granola, like brown rice syrup or agave nectar. Some use brown sugar, too. But for a healthier experience, it’s best to avoid a granola that uses corn syrup.
The reason granola typically includes maple syrup or honey is because of the depth of flavor the sweeteners offer that you don’t get from white sugar. But they also help with the binding process and cluster formation.
Is Granola Gluten-Free?
The short answer: maybe. The long answer: unless specified as gluten-free, oats can contain residual gluten from equipment or storage shared with gluten-containing grains. For the celiac or severely gluten sensitive, oats that aren’t certified as gluten-free may be problematic.
But some brands are foregoing the oats altogether and making granola with nuts and seeds instead. Labels should be clear indicators but in some cases (like bulk bins), you may need to contact the companies directly to be sure the product is safe.
Granola or Muesli?
If you’ve had both you may be quick to notice the difference. Muesli is perhaps best described as unbaked granola (we even include one on this list). It’s rolled oats, dried fruits, nuts, and sometimes seeds served with milk of choice. A popular cereal in Switzerland and other parts of Europe, you can easily whip up your own muesli with oats and any add-ins you like—almonds, walnuts, chia seeds, raisins, coconut.
Granola is noticeable through its golden brown clusters, which happen as a result of baking the coated oats. If you’re looking for a less sweet breakfast option, muesli may be the optimal choice there as it doesn’t require the coating of sweetener.
Vegan Granola Brands
Just like our meat and dairy aisles are flipping to plant-based alternatives, the cereal aisle is getting a vegan makeover, too. A growing number of brands are launching vegan granola products for every taste preference. You can even find some really extra granola options, too, like the Sakara Life granola boosted with the adaptogen ashwagandha, or Rawcology’s acai-infused granola. This ain’t your grandma’s hippie commune granola, but it darn well should be.
Give these vegan granolas a try.
- Nature’s Path Caramel Pecan Granola get it here.
- Sakara Life Dark Chocolate Superfood Granola With Brazil Nuts and Ashwagandha get it here.
- Purely Elizabeth Organic Ancient Grain Granola get it here.
- Michelle’s Organic Handmade Granola get it here.
- Erin Baker’s Homestyle Vanilla Almond Quinoa Granola get it here.
- Bear Naked Fit V’nilla Almond Granola get it here.
- St. Amour Power Granola get it here.
- Bear Naked Cacao and Cashew Butter Granola get it here.
- Bob’s Red Mill Whole Grain No-Fat Granola get it here.
- Nature’s Path Organic Chia Coconut Granola get it here.
- Udi’s Almond Butter Granola get it here.
- Hudson Henry Pecan, Pistachio, and Cashew Granola get it here.
- Kind Peanut Butter Cluster Granola get it here.
- Bob’s Red Mill Old Country Style Muesli get it here.
- Go Raw Coco Crunch Granola get it here.
- Cristina Ferrare My Organic Granola Golden Coconut Crunch get it here.
- Cascadian Farms Fruit and Nut Granola get it here.
- Rawcology Grain-Free Raw Crunch Blueberry Acai Granola get it here.
- Wildway Grain-Free Variety Pack get it here.
- Spera Foods Tigernut Chocolate Cherry Granola get it here.
- Purely Elizabeth Grain-Free Banana Nut Butter Granola get it here.
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