It seemed too good to be true—a delicious, nutritious breakfast that could double as dessert?

Armando Sanchez

San Diego’s Cal-A-Vie health spa has created a granola that hits all the marks; it’s rich on texture and flavor but light on the waistline. Cal-A-Vie’s chef, Jason Graham, developed the recipe to offer optimal flavor and nutritional value. Subbing in agave nectar for maple syrup was a start. “Agave is a lower glycemic sweetener,” Graham explains. “It’s about one and a half times sweeter than sugar, so you end up using less.” He also ditched heavy cooking oil for grapeseed oil to slash calories and fat. “Grapeseed is a clean oil—it’s basically a vegetable oil,” says Graham. “It supplies low saturated fat and a neutral flavor.”

Not surprisingly, Graham has seen guest demand for his granola skyrocket, thanks largely to its versatility. “It is the most popular food I’ve ever sold here—we are constantly selling out of it,” he says. In the morning, he serves it with yogurt, strawberries, bananas and micro-mint. For dessert? Layered with berries and yogurt to make parfait, it’s a guest favorite. “It’s crunchy and creamy together, so you get all that texture going,” he says.

Cal-A-Vie’s granola is a tough competitor on the retail shelves, too. “If you put it next to any granola in any grocery store, numbers- and taste-wise, it would win.” We’re sold!

Granola from Cal-A-Vie

Makes 10 cups

1.5 bananas
2 cups agave or maple syrup
1 tsp. cinnamon
Small pinch salt
1 tbsp. grapeseed oil
4 cups rolled oats
1 box brown rice cereal
2 cups toasted slivered almonds or pecans

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
2. Combine bananas, agave, cinnamon, salt and oil in a blender. Coat with the oats.
3. Spread mixture evenly onto 2 large sheet pans and bake for 30 minutes, turning the oats every 10 minutes.
4. Remove from oven, and stir in the brown rice cereal. Add more agave as needed.
5. Reduce heat to 300 degrees and bake mixture, turning every 10 minutes, for
45-60 minutes, until crispy. Remove and cool on rack for 1 hour.
6. Transfer mixture to an airtight container, and mix in the nuts.

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