I created my granolas to serve to my family, using the the highest quality ingredients. These are all of the ingredients I use and why I use them – the benefits they add to my recipes.
**Certified Gluten-Free Oats in Tropic of Ginger and Jamaican Me Crazy; Organic oats in Grand Cran, Flying Oats and Nuts, and Berry Luscious
Almonds contain fiber to help with digestion, protein needed for healthy cells and cell repair, and calcium for strong bones. And they also contain Vitamin E for healthy skin, inside and out! In addition, almonds contain magnesium (to help you maintain energy levels), potassium (to help reduce blood pressure) and zinc (to help strengthen immunity. That’s why I call Almonds “Nana’s little helpers.”
Banana Chips provide a good source of fiber, which lowers cholesterol, controls blood sugar levels and helps prevent cardiovascular disease and some types of cancer. They are also a source of potassium, which controls blood pressure and helps nerves communicate, and iron, which activates enzymes needed to support metabolism. Consuming banana chips is said to help prevent the nausea, fatigue and constipation that can develop due to potassium deficiency.
Dried Blueberries – Anthocyanins (the pigments that make blueberries blue) are a great source of antioxidants. Health benefits can range from helping prevent cancer and defending against urinary tract infections to protecting the brain from stroke damage and reducing heart disease risks. And if that’s not enough, these power-packed little berries are an important source of vitamin C and contain fiber. Whew!
Cane Juice is a healthier alternative to table sugar and may offer some antioxidant properties due to its supply of flavanoid. It is part of the crystallized ginger in the Tropic of Ginger, so very lightly included, as I prefer to sweeten with maple syrup.
Cardamom is an ingredient commonly used in Indian cuisine with so many health benefits its hard to mention them all! It is used for improving digestion (treating nausea, bloating, constipation, acidity, gas, etc.), detoxification, depression, cold and flu, cancer, blood pressure, blood clot prevention, and an anti-inflammatory. If that’s not enough, it offers antioxidant benefits and is used for oral health (bad breath, mouth ulcers, throat infections), hiccups, and aphrodisiac!
Cashews are rich in B vitamins, iron, magnesium, manganese, potassium, zinc and selenium, which is great for helping prevent wrinkles (Nana and her lady friends thank you) and can also give you healthy, shiny hair. Cashews are a great source of omega-6 fatty acids which help to protect against heart disease.
Organic Cinnamon is used to help treat muscle spasms, vomiting, diarrhea, infections, the common cold, loss of appetite, and erectile dysfunction according to the U.S. National Library of Medicine. It also can help fight against bacterial and fungal infections, blood sugar control, IBS, arthritis/osteoporosis and is promising in the treatment of tumors, cancers and melanomas. All this and more, and it tastes delish!
Organic Dried Coconut provides fiber, and minerals including copper, manganese, iron, calcium and zinc. While it is high in saturated fats, that includes lauric acid, which increases the HDL ‘good’ cholesterol. Also a good source of B vitamins.
Organic Coconut Nectar contains 17 amino acids, and has a lower glycemic index than other sweeteners (35 versus 65 in raw sugar and 80 in refined sugar) though it offers the same sweetness. This lower glycemic index means that you feel fuller longer, helping with weight loss and maintenance. It also is a source of minerals, vitamin C, and B vitamins. It’s the clear choice for a natural sweetener!
Organic Coconut Oil plays a role in hair and skin health, stress relief, cholesterol level maintenance, weight loss, immune system functioning, proper digestion and regulated metabolism. It also provides relief from kidney problems, heart diseases, high blood pressure, diabetes, HIV, and cancer, while helping to improve dental quality and bone strength. These benefits of oil can be attributed to the presence of lauric acid, capric acid and caprylic acid, and their respective properties, such as antimicrobial, antioxidant, anti-fungal, antibacterial and soothing qualities.
Dried Cranberries are currently being studied for possible health uses including: fighting bacterial infections, cardiovascular benefits, immune system strengthening, and anti-cancer properties. High in vitamin C and antioxidants, dried cranberries are even suspected of helping fight tooth decay! So smile and say “Gran’ Cran!”
Ginger has very good anti-inflammatory properties so it can be very beneficial for those with joint problems such as osteoarthritis. It helps with the general absorption of nutrients and also helps to regulate blood sugar levels. Ginger is also a good anti-oxidant, helps to boost blood circulation, and as many of us know, can also be helpful with nausea. Besides tasting terrific and making Nana’s Tropic of Ginger a bestseller, ginger has been used for thousands of years in traditional Eastern medicine! So Nana’s a relative newcomer.
Hemp Seeds are essentially composed of three elements: heart-healthy essential fatty acids, fiber, and protein. Great for strengthening immunity and cardiovascular health, hemp seeds also contain all the nine essential amino acids required for muscle and other bodily functions – acids that our bodies can’t produce by themselves.
Maple Syrup is an antioxidant powerhouse that boosts the immune system, age-proof skins, and has anti-inflammatory compounds. It helps with muscle recovery, contains essential nutrients like zinc, iron, calcium, and potassium, and it eases bloating and gas that often comes with processed sweeteners. Use only pure maple syrup like I do – and just a touch for light sweetness, the healthy way. It’s my light use of natural sweeteners that account for the very low sugar in my granola – only 3 grams of sugar per serving, versus 8 or more in most others!
Oats (certified gluten-free or organic)** are a cherished “super food” with a low glycemic index. They contain both protein and fiber – and that fiber is both soluble and insoluble, which helps delay the time your body needs to digest them. This slow-release energy (low glycemic index) helps to keep you feeling fuller longer. It also helps to prevent spikes and troughs in your blood sugar level.
Oat fiber also contains beta glucans, which can help reduce bad cholesterol levels (LDL).
Oats also contain magnesium, potassium, zinc, copper, manganese, selenium, thiamine and pantothenic acid as well as phyto-nutrients such as polyphenols, phytoestrogens, lignins and Vitamin E.
**Certified gluten-free oats in Tropic of Ginger and Jamaican Me Crazy; Organic oats in Grand Cran, Flying Oats and Nuts, and Berry Luscious.
Pecans have over 19 vitamins and minerals, including a rich serving of Vitamin E, a great natural antioxidant. They’re a good source of selenium, and niacin (one of the B-vitamins), as well as Vitamin B1, zinc, and protein. Pecans are primarily composed of mono-unsaturated fats and, out of all nuts, they have one of the highest levels of phytosterols, which have been shown to help lower cholesterol levels. And if that’s not enough to make you start “popping pecans,” one ounce provides 10 percent of your daily recommended level of fiber!
Organic Pumpkin Seeds are a good source of omega-3 and omega-6 (EFAs) which are also very important for your brain, support the immune function and decrease inflammation. Pumpkin seeds are a great source of protein and essential vitamins, like Vitamins A and B. They also contain minerals, including calcium and magnesium, which are important for supporting bones, muscles and nerves. The phytosterols found in pumpkin seeds also help lower cholesterol, while the beta-carotene in the seeds can help protect against skin cancer.
Dried Raspberries pack extra berry oomph into my Berry Luscious granola. They add natural sweetness, contain ellagic acid, a known cancer fighter, offer antimicrobial properties, and help fight high cholesterol by lowering LDL (bad) cholesterol.
Organic Sunflower Oil provides a perfect balance of monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fatty acids, making it the perfect oil to reduce the levels of bad cholesterol. Rich in Vitamin E, it has antioxidant properties, helps the skin retain its moisture, and maintains a healthy immune system.
Sunflower Seeds contain lots of Vitamin E, omega-6 and monounsaturated fats. These simple seeds are a good source of magnesium and calcium and also contain zinc and selenium and add an amazing mouthfeel in my Gran Cran’ and Flying Oats and Nut granolas.
Vanilla Extract contains antioxidants, and is used to alleviate anxiety and as an aphrodisiac. Most important, it gives a round and smooth taste to Jamaican Me Crazy and Berry Luscious.
Walnuts contain protein, Vitamins B6 and E, copper, magnesium, potassium, zinc, and omega-3 fatty acids. Thankfully, copper can help to prevent varicose veins and their omega-3 fatty acids are very important for heart and skin health! Lookin’ good, Nana!