Once upon a time in a shop….
Maybe not just one time actually but quite often I was asking myself ‘What is the difference between muesli and granola?’ I might be alone, or it might be that many of you were asking yourself the same question. I grew up with muesli or simple rolled oats, and mostly ate it hot as a porridge. The first time that I heard about granola for sure was probably only around 5 years ago and still in my mind it was just a kind of muesli which is more expensive.
Well, I was wrong, they are very different and granola is far away from being a new thing. We think of it as one of the healthy breakfast options, but is it really so healthy? Finally, let’s find the answers… what is the difference between granola and muesli?
Muesli is simply a cold dish with a base of rolled oats and some other ingredients thrown in, like grains, seeds, nuts, dried fruits or fresh fruits and berries. All of these goodies are mixed and usually eaten with milk (any types, dairy or whatever else you prefer), fruit juice or yogurt. It can also be soaked in water and milk overnight and boiled as a porridge.
Don’t think it is something very new, muesli was developed around 1900 by Swiss physician M.B.Benner, who is sometimes hailed as a nutritional pioneer and believed it was perfect for the patients at his hospital. The recipe was oat flakes, raw apples, condensed milk, nuts and lemon juice. The doctor believed that many of his patients conditions could be alleviated with increased exercise and a more nutritious diet. His secret to heal and prevent disease was a combination of a diet rich in raw grains, fruits, and vegetables, exercises and other physical activity – walking and gardening.
Over time his ideas spread and in 1959 the first mass produced muesli appeared from Somalon AG, a Swiss company. They came up with the idea and marketed it as “The healthy food for the whole family”. It was first sold in Switzerland and then exported to Germany, Austria, England. Netherlands and the USA.
Actually if you want to make everyone happy at breakfast then muesli is kind of the perfect choice – raw, gluten free, you can serve the ingredients like nuts, dried fruits and seeds separately so people can choose what to put it their own bowl.
I don’t eat muesli so often, but my favourite is Rude Health Muesli.
Granola is another food where the main ingredient is rolled oats. The difference is that it is baked until it is crispy, toasted and has a nice golden or darker color. It also has added sugars and oils to make it sweeter and crispy. Just like muesli you can find nuts, dried fruits and seeds in granola. Fresh fruits and berries are perfect with granola too. Granola is always served cold with milk or maybe yogurt, it can also be combined with other types of cereal. Quite often it is added to desserts, ice cream, or some pastries.
Technically granola is older than muesli. It was born in Dansville, New York under the name of granula in 1863. It was, again just like muesli, invented by James Caleb Jackson, a doctor at the Jackson Sanitarium. J.H. Kellogg created a similar cereal and initially also called it granula, but to avoid legal stuff it was renamed granola and now all of us call it this title. In the 1960’s granola was reinvented by adding some dried fruits and nuts and marketing it as a healthy food in the time of hippies.
Granola is often considered to be a healthy snack, either in a bowl or when it is sold as (or you make) granola bars. Many outdoors people take it for hiking as it is an energy rich food, light and easy to carry. One important thing to remember is that granola is high in calories, so it can be healthy but only if you eat it sensible amounts and if you choose low sugar versions.
At home we like to eat granola and one of my favourites has again been from Rude Health with coconut and chia seeds which I always add some nuts to. Now though we are making granola at home by ourselves so we add whatever we like, for example more nuts because we really like them. We use less added sugars as well.
5 Big differences between muesli and granola
- Granola is baked/toasted/fried. – Muesli is raw.
- Granola is with added sugars. – Muesli usually doesn’t have extra sugars.
- Granola contains oil. – Muesli doesn’t.
- Granola is served cold. – Muesli can be served cold or hot as a porridge.
- Granola is crunchy. – Muesli is chewy.
Also, granola is eaten more in North America and muesli is more popular in Europe. Maybe the reason is that the consumption of sugar in North America is higher.
Is muesli healthier than granola?
Well after improving my knowledge about these two foods I would say that muesli is a better healthy option. Why? Because it doesn’t have added sugars and oils (although technically both of them can have a lot of sugars if we count dried fruits, berries and nuts). It’s especially true if we are talking about granola and muesli from the shops where you have no control over the sugar levels. So, it’s easy for some people who are trying to lose weight and to eat super healthy breakfasts to be mistaken and cheated on by their choice of granola.
Of course there is always the option to make your own homemade granola where you can control exactly how much oil (quantity, quality and which oil) you want to add and the same with sugars. Will you choose to add a bit of honey, agave or other sweetness? By making granola yourself you can choose which seeds, fruits and nuts to add. This applies the same to muesli.
To sum up I would recommend to make your muesli or granola at home and it will be a much healthier option 🙂
P.S. Our homemade granola recipe is coming very soon!