Granola Picks & Tips, Plus the 80/20 Rule Explained!

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Hi HG,

I LOVE granola, but the ones in the store are so high in fat and calories. Please help! I know you'll come to the rescue. Thanks in advance.

Gotta Have Granola

Hi Gotta Have Granola,

You're right -- granola can be a total food faker, meaning that it seems like a smart pick when it's really not. Although it typically contains whole grains and other good-for-you stuff, it's often prepared with lots of added sugar and oil. And it's very calorie dense -- most granola has really high stats for a pretty small serving size. It's fine in small portions, but many people eat it like cereal, so the calories really add up. Even low-fat granola typically has close to 400 calories per cup. So what's a granola-lovin' girl to do? Keep reading...

Some store-bought options are better than others in the stats department. Kashi's granola-like GoLean Crunch! cereal has only 190 calories and 3g fat in a full cup (PointsPlus® value 5*), which is perfect if you want a large serving. And KIND Healthy Grains come in fun mixes -- like Vanilla Blueberry Clusters with Flax Seeds and Maple Walnut Clusters with Chia & Quinoa -- and are great if you stick to a single serving. A 1/3-cup serving has 120 - 130 calories and 3 - 4g fat (PointsPlus® value 3*). Not bad! Other ways to get your granola fix? Granola snack bars and single-serving yogurt cups with granola. Click here for my granola-bar picks and here for a granola-topped yogurt find.

My favorite thing to do with granola (and my recommendation to you) is to stretch a single serving by bulking it up with lighter stuff. If you like granola cereal-style, mix it with lower-calorie cereals, like unsweetened puffed cereal, Cheerios, or Fiber One Original. Or sprinkle a serving of granola over some fat-free or light yogurt. If you find yourself going for granola as an evening snack, use it as a topping for light ice cream, or make it part of a snack mix with guilt-free goodies like 94% fat-free popcorn and freeze-dried fruit.

Last but not least, here's an awesome HG granola recipe with a generous serving size. Feel free to customize it with your favorite freeze-dried fruit -- it would be AMAZING with blueberries or one of the Funky Monkey mixes. Enjoy! 

Dear Hungry Girl,

You often talk about how you live by the 80/20 rule. How does that actually work? Do you save the 20 percent for special occasions? Certain food splurges? Is there one day a week that you allow yourself to indulge?

Curious Kendra

Hi Kendra,

Great question! For those of you who aren't familiar with the rule, it refers to eating smart 80 percent of the time and loosening up the reins the other 20 percent. This way you always have some wiggle room and flexibility without throwing off your weight-management goals. Eating right 100 percent of the time isn't realistic, and if you tell yourself that you have to do it, you'll be more likely to get discouraged and give up after a "bad" meal or day.

It's actually more of a concept than a hard-and-fast rule. If you adopt the idea, it sort of works itself out. I usually plan to eat smart most the time, but life happens -- maybe I have a cocktail and some bar bites with friends, a meal I order is prepared with more oil than I'd like, or I have a few bites of dessert that I just don't wanna resist. But since I eat smart most of the time, I'm able to indulge every once in a while without guilt or worries. And if I go too far overboard, I just eat a little lighter the next day and step up the exercise. This is just what works for me. It's all about figuring out what's best for your lifestyle. Want more advice? Click here for the TOP ATE diet blunders to avoid. Good luck!

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*The PointsPlus® and SmartPoints® values for these products and/or recipes were calculated by Hungry Girl and are not an endorsement or approval of the product, recipe, or its manufacturer or developer by Weight Watchers International, Inc., the owner of the PointsPlus® registered trademark and SmartPoints
® trademark.

SmartPoints® value not what you expected? Click here for more info on how the values are calculated, plus more FAQs about PointsPlus® and SmartPoints® values on our website.

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