Thursday, April 30, 2009

Designer Granola

I love granola. I can't get enough of its fruity, nutty, grainy taste, with textures rough and wrinkled and chewy. Recently, I found a new granola delicacy, mixmygranola(tm) the way i like it.

mixmygranola has a few premixed selections, but their forte is make-your-own granola. In just a few mouse clicks, you can create the cereal of your dreams, FedEx-ed to your door.

You begin by selecting a base; I chose French vanilla. All the bases contain grains and sweeteners, plus some extras. The French vanilla base has the rolled oats you'd expect, along with  honey, almonds, crisp rice, and nutmeg. The web site's FAQ section discloses every ingredient in each of the bases, making life easier if you have food allergies or a special diet. Of the four, the organic base and the muesli are vegan.

Once you've chosen a base, you're directed to mmg's online pantry of 17 different dried fruits. If you're adventurous, choose goji berries or papaya. I opted for organic banana chips and dried pineapple. Compared to other banana chips I've tried, mmg's were a little starchy, but, in all fairness, the sweeter ones are generally heavily sugared and fried, whereas mmg's are made from dried banana. No frying. No added sugar. Nada. Nothing. Just banana. Dried not fried.

The dried pineapple was surprisingly fresh; I hadn't realized how much stale granola is out there until I experienced this stuff -- chewy without sticking to my dental work and sweet with just a little tang. This granola is so fresh it practically stands up and says good morning!

Next, the site guides you to pick from 17 nuts and seeds. What makes 17 a magic number, I'm not sure, but you won't feel slighted by the variety, which again includes both offbeat and conventional items. For my mix, I went for peanuts and pepitas.

But you still aren't finished with your masterpiece. There's one more category called 'extras.' Some of the extras, such as oat bran flakes, are healthy boosts. But others -- the lion's share, really -- might be better named 'guilty indulgences.' From a selection that included everything from mini yogurt pretzels to wasabi peas, I ended up selecting chocolate mini morsels and crystallized ginger. Again, the ingredients were impeccably fresh.

The resulting mixture was delicious and had 266 calories per two-ounce serving. This stuff is tasty, fresh, and you might even say it's on the healthy side, but it's only as diet friendly as you make it. Fortunately, mmg is on top of this, too. A nutritional calculator is built into the ordering system, so with a single mouse click, you can view your creation's vital statistics.

The web site also keeps a running tally of how much the whole adventure is costing you. Bases run $3.99 and $4.99 per pound, while fruits, nuts, and extras vary from $0.49 to $1.99 per ounce. I was able to purchase two different mixes, totaling two pounds, for just under 25 dollars, including delivery. This unusual take on breakfast would make a terrific gift and the company sells gift certificates that can be e-mailed or printed.

mix my granola at a glance

• It's distinctively fresh.
• The nutritional information for your specialized blend is available in one mouse click.
• mmg has great variety, with more than 50 fruits, nuts, seeds, and extras.

• mmg's texture is uniform, lacking the tasty granola clumps I dig for.

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