Reconciling “Health Halos” with Whole30 Granola and Coconut Yogurt

One thing that never ceases to amaze me is how just how powerful positioning can be to shape our views, perspectives and understanding of something. Most, if not all, people are aware of the fact that the media and advertisers usually take a distinctive slant to satisfy their own agenda, for better or worse. However, if you really stop to think about why we think the way we think about nearly everything, you will find a myriad of messages that we have heard or seen throughout our various experiences and interactions which influence us, our beliefs, and our decisions more than one might initially assume. When I was an undergrad, my university required all students to take three courses which were part of a particular theme. There were probably 20 -30 options which varied from highly technical and super scientific to artistic or social and political disciplines. I personally chose to undertake the “Society and Media Theme” and ever since then, the concept of media literacy, and true literacy in general, has fascinated me.

Although many people interpret literacy in a limited fashion as it relates to being well versed in literature or writing for example, in a broader sense, to be literate is to be educated or competent and knowledgeable in a particular area. As I endeavored to develop a healthier lifestyle, I was shocked to find just how many things I had always been taught or assumed to be “healthy” were quite the opposite. My food literacy was seriously deficient. Like to the point that I didn’t even realize that food literacy was a thing. In a phenomenon known as the “health halo,” we tend to use cognitive shortcuts which make assumptions about the overall nutritional density and value based upon one advertised quality, key words or conventional wisdom. For example, studies have demonstrated that when a food is labeled with terms like “superfood” or “organic,” consumers tend to overestimate its overall nutritive value or make assumptions about its caloric or macronutrient properties or ability to work as a silver bullet-magical-cure-all. Likewise, due to the health halo effect, I, along with many others had previously thought that yogurt and granola was a pretty sound breakfast or snack option. However, many (if not most) versions are quite the opposite and are often at least as sugary and full of preservatives as more mainstream cereals or even candy bars.

Thankfully, in my passion for food literacy, I have learned a thing or two that helps me to avoid or reduce the chances of my falling prey to such effects or inaccurate assumptions. By gaining better understanding of what constitutes legitimate nutritive value, I am better equipped to ask key probing questions about the type of foods that I choose to ingest. Along with that, I have eagerly embraced the opportunity to experiment in the kitchen to create genuinely healthier alternatives.

And this dairy free coconut yogurt with Whole30 grain free granola is the real deal.  I could eat it everyday.  In fact I very nearly do. Coconut yogurt has become one of my daily treats which is full of healthy fats keeping me full between breakfast and lunch; often through multiple sessions at the barre. I make it every week as part of my weekend meal prep in my InstantPot and it easily keeps throughout the week.   If you do not have an InstantPot (you really should consider in investing in one – It is not too expensive and can do practically everything besides wash the dishes AND when you use it there are less dishes! Hip hip hooray!), you can use another yogurt maker or possibly your oven if the setting will go low enough (112 F/44 C). Or if you prefer to buy – Coyo is a good brand (available in the US and Ireland/UK) which is Whole30 compliant and delicious. Their version is totally vegan as well, because it uses tapioca starch instead of beef gelatin. And I am sure that you will love either your own or their version with this miraculous granola blend which sacrifices no flavor or consistency despite the fact that it is entirely grain, dairy and added sugar free.   SO GOOD.  Another delicious option (introduced to me by my #barrebestie Julette) – use Ella’s Kitchen baby food fruit puree pockets to add a super clean fruit flavor to the yogurt. OR go crazy and add the fruit puree and the granola and treat YO self!

Whole30 Coconut Yogurt and Granola

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Serves: 8

A yogurt and granola combination which actually lives up to its perceived level of healthiness!
Ingredients
Whole30 Granola
  • Raw Almonds 1 cup (120 g)
  • Hazelnuts .5 cup (60 g)
  • Pitted Dates .5 cup (85 g)
  • Shredded/Desiccated Unsweetened Coconut .5 cup (30 g)
  • Dried Strawberries (no sweetener or preservatives - I like Urban Fruits) .5 cup (90 g)
  • Cacao Nibs .25 cup (30 g)
  • Unsweetened Coconut Flakes .5 cup (30 g)
  • Optional: couple tablespoons of chia seeds, bee pollen, or other dried fruits to your liking!
Coconut Yogurt
  • Full Fat Coconut Yogurt (check labels to ensure no sugars/Whole30 compliant) 2 cans
  • Non Dairy Yogurt Cultures (check labels to ensure no sugars/Whole30 compliant) 1 package (5 g)
  • Grass Fed Beef Gelatin 2 TBSP
Instructions
Whole30 Granola
  1. Soak the almonds and hazelnuts in a small bowl with enough water just to cover and the dates the same way in a separate bowl for 1 hour.
  2. Drain and rinse the nuts. Dry slightly by pressing a paper towel into the mix to remove any excess water and then place into a food processor or high speed blender.
  3. Drain the dates (saving the water) and add to the food processor or high speed blender - no need to worry too much about some excess moisture with these.
  4. Pulse the nuts, dates, and the shredded/desiccated coconut until well combined. You will have a thick, coarse meal type of mixture. If needed, add a small of the date water at a time (about 1TBSP) to keep things moving. Try not too add too much to help with the final consistency and crunchiness.
  5. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and then spread the granola mix in a thin layer.
  6. Place in the oven at 250 F/120 C and bake for about 75 minutes. After 75 minutes, turn the oven off, but leave the pan in the oven for another 1 hour.
  7. Remove the baking sheet and allow the granola to totally cool.
  8. Pour the strawberries, cacao nibs, and coconut flakes (and any other mix-ins you like - I love bee pollen) over the granola and mix gently to break up the baked granola.
  9. Store in an airtight container, keeping dry for up to a week. Eat on it's own, over the yogurt, or with a small bit of almond milk as a "cereal."
Coconut Yogurt - InstantPot Directions
  1. Pour the canned/tinned coconut milk into the InstantPot, replace the lid and press the Yogurt button, you may have to press Adjust until the display reads BOIL. Allow the coconut milk to come to a boil.
  2. Then remove the InstantPot liner and cover - allowing the coconut milk to cool to 112F/44 C (this is important to make sure that the yogurt starter will dissolve, but not too hot that the cultures will die).
  3. Once cooled, whisk in the yogurt cultures and place the liner back into the InstantPot - close the lid and press the Yogurt button again, then Adjust and the Up or Down Arrow to 9 hours and 30 minutes. You can allow the yogurt to incubate longer for a slightly thicker and more tart version, but this works well for me. I usually start the yogurt to boil around dinner time, allow to cool and start the incubation before I go to bed so that it is finished in the morning.
  4. Once finished, remove the InstantPot liner and very slowly mix in the beef gelatin, whisking to avoid clumping. It is important to do this soon after the yogurt has finished incubating to make sure it all mixes together well.
  5. Once smooth, pour the coconut yogurt into one large bowl or several small containers and refrigerate for at least 6 hours to allow to firm up.
  6. Enjoy on its own or with the Whole30 granola as a topper. Another delicious option introduced to me by my #barrebestie, Julette - use Ella's Kitchen baby food fruit puree pockets to add a squeaky clean fruit flavor to the yogurt. OR go crazy and add the fruit puree and the granola and treat YO self!

 

 

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