It's unfortunate to realize that granola is usually cooked in oil and coated in sugar or syrup, making it one of the least healthy breakfast choices disguised as good for you. It's no wonder I find myself constantly craving another bite. Starting the day with sugar creates lasting cravings for more sweets and more crunch throughout the day, which is not a place I want to be.
If you love the crunch and want to pack your yogurt full of flavor, try these 10 alternatives to granola:
1. Chia seeds
Chia seeds contain fiber, protein, fat, calcium, magnesium, zinc, potassium and B vitamins. They're also low in calories and require no preparation – just scoop and serve. They expand when wet, which can help reduce food cravings and keep you full for longer.
2. Hemp seeds
Hemp seeds are one of the most concentrated sources of protein, essential fat and vitamins on earth, making them the most nutritious seeds out there. They taste like a mix of a pine nut and a sunflower seeds and have a satisfying, filling texture.
3. Unsweetened coconut flakes
Coconut adds a ton of flavor, texture, vitamins and minerals. It's a great source of dietary fiber, which will help you feel full longer. One ounce also gives you a high amount of manganese, which strengthens bones and plays a role in metabolism.
4. Goji berries
Goji berries are like raisins with a more tart flavor. They have a significant amount of iron, a surprising amount of protein and 180% of your daily dose of vitamin A. They also have calcium, fiber and have been shown to improve circulation, reduce joint pain and strengthen the immune system.
5. Raw nuts + seeds
Nuts and seeds provide key essential nutrients like fiber, which will slow the rate of digestion and keep blood sugar balanced. A gradual rise in blood sugar will leave you feeling more energized. Nuts and seeds also give you a dose of healthy fat, clean protein and satisfying crunch.
6. Acai powder
I am a big fan of superfood acai powder because it's a portable way to enjoy one of the healthiest berries on earth. Acai is not only helpful for losing weight, but maintaining weight as well. It's also great for digestion, the skin and mental balance.
7. Fresh berries
Berries are deliciously packed with antioxidants, which keep your memory sharp, lower your cholesterol, improve your digestive system, and even lower blood pressure.
8. Raw quinoa
This one might surprise you. Quinoa is most commonly consumed cooked, however the raw grains can give you all of the same protein and fiber benefits along with a satisfying crunch. Simply rinse to soften and break open the grain. For maximum digestibility, another option is to sprout the seed. This makes the grain more digestible and provides additional vitamins and minerals.
To sprout, you will need a sprouting lid or mesh screen. Simply add quinoa to a mason jar and cover with water. Let it sit for about 6 hours and drain. Rinse the grains every 6-8 hours for a day until you see threadlike sprouts breaking through. Rinse one more time and store in the refrigerator. This requires a little bit more plan-ahead, but you can sprout in bulk to enjoy all week.
Slice up ½ small avocado into your yogurt and you'll get a sweet, nutty taste and plenty of vitamins, potassium, fiber and healthy fats.
10. Maca powder
Maca has high doses of vitamin C, E and multiple B vitamins plus calcium, iron, magnesium, potassium, phosphorous, zinc and almost all of the amino acids your body needs. It's a great energy boost and has been shown to improve the circulatory system, too. The flavor adds a malty taste to your yogurt, which I have grown to crave.