1: A mixture of rolled oats, nuts, honey and other add-ins that is baked until crisp and eaten as a snack or a breakfast staple.
2: A term used to describe someone who's environmentally conscious, liberal or open-minded (a.k.a. hippies and tree-huggers).
That second definition is no coincidence. Backpackers, hikers and campers made granola popular in the 1960s because it's easy to eat out of hand and provides a decent amount of your daily nutrition. While granola has gained a reputation -- and maybe notoriously so -- as a "healthy" food, sometimes it's anything but healthy. Depending on what's in your granola, it can be high in fat, sugar and cholesterol. We're here to help you sort out the best from the worst.
Making your own granola is the best way to control what you eat, but we don't all have the time -- and there are some great store-bought varieties out there. Though your gut instinct might be to choose either the cheapest or the lowest in fat, there are other factors you should consider -- taste, health benefits and purity of ingredients.
For example: You might imagine granola as being sweetened with brown sugar or honey, but many of the brands we tasted contain additional sweeteners -- evaporated cane juice, fruit juices, sugar, molasses, and corn syrup, to name a few. Not to mention, one of them contains partially hydrogenated oil -- yuck.
Our panel of tasters blind-tested 16 different brands of granola, including a few low-fat versions, which we were surprised to see at both the top and bottom of the results. We tried it all -- big clusters, little clusters, heavily sweetened, mildly sweetened, loaded with fruit, filled with nuts -- you name it. So which brands tasted the best? Find out the results in the slideshow below!
How do you eat your granola? Plain? With yogurt? With cereal? Let us know by leaving a comment below.