Back in the 1960’s, Berkeley, California was all about free spirited hippies, bell bottom jeans, Birkenstock sandals and crunchy granola. Today, I still wear jeans and buy my granola in Berkeley, California, as well as other locations where my travels take me. As a fifth generation Northern California girl, I’m proud to say that I eat organic and local whenever possible. I’m fortunate to have traveled to many beautiful destinations. One of the games I play during my travels is to seek out the local granola maker. From Big Sur, California to Eugene, Oregon, I share my top 12 best granola finds and look forward to many more crunchy discoveries along the trail.
Old fashioned oats, nuts and seeds with a touch of Big Sur Honey make this tasty granola worth a trip to Big Sur Bakery. You’ll want to get there early when you drive along California’s Big Sur Coast because this intimate, little bakery and restaurant gets busy as the bees in the morning. By the way, Big Sur Bakery sells this granola on site and online, along with their cookbook and chocolate chip cookies.
Beaujolais Granola is a family owned and operated baking company based in Northern California. Chef David LaMonica shares the original Cashew & Coconut recipe from Cafe Beajolais in Mendocino, in addition to other flavors added to the product line. The granola is non gmo verified and earth kosher certified. Other flavors include apricot & almond; cherry & cocoa nib; honey & hazelnut & six seed sensation. I have only tried cashew & coconut Beaujolais Granola. What’s your favorite granola?
I discovered Bite Fuel Protein Granola Trail Mix at the Winter Fancy Food Show in San Francisco. Billed as “food for warriors” I liked this granola because of the 10 grams of protein per single serving. The red berry blend of cranberries, cherries and almonds makes a healthy travel snack and is non gmo and gluten free. The company also make protein cookies.
My neighbor turned me on to Brown Butter Cookie Company granola. The Cayucos based company turns out the best brown butter cookies and as their granola packing claims, “it’s delish.” Made with whole rolled oats, chopped almonds and pecans, coconut, California honey and other goodness, the one pound bag is available at the Cayucos beach town shop, their Paso Robles store and online.
I was attending a bbq workshop at The Broadmoor in Colorado Springs, Colorado when I discovered their house made granola. Just the thought of dining in any of the restaurants at The Broadmoor makes my mouth water, but today our focus is on the best granola finds. On the day of my departure, I ate breakfast by Cheyenne Lake at Ristorante Del Lago. Composed of toasted hazelnuts, golden raisins and whole grains, the granola pairs perfectly with fresh fruit and Greek yogurt. To my knowledge, The Broadmoor does not sell their house made granola accept on the restaurant menu.
Cookbook Author Alice Waters of Chez Panisse fame opened Cafe Fanny (named for her daughter) in 1984 and and served this tasty granola. Though the cafe closed in 2012, the handmade Cafe Fanny Organic Granola proved so popular at the Berkeley, California restaurant that they decided to package it and offer it to everyone. The last time I bought mine, there were three flavors; original recipe; cran-coconut with quinoa and organic flaxseeds.
My latest go-to granola is from Crispian Bakery in Alameda, California. Co-owner and head chef Beth Woulfe grew up in suburban Orinda and attended Miramonte High School (my high school’s rival) and Princeton University. Not only is her granola fabulous, everything in the small-batch bakery is wonderful. I served her cookies and French inspired American breads at my mother’s Celebration of Life. Her cookies are available at Diablo Foods in Lafayette but you have to visit Crispian Bakery for their wonderful pies, cakes and, of course, the granola. What makes this granola special? I think it’s the tart cherries, cashews and pumpkin seeds.
As I mentioned earlier, I seek out good food – like bread, chocolate and granola – on my travels. When I visit the Willamette Valley, a stop at my alma mater in Eugene, Oregon is required. Downtown Eugene and specifically the Fifth Street Public Market is a mecca for foodies. One of my favorite places is Marche Restaurant and the, new to me, Provisions Market Hall. Here, food lovers will find fresh local produce, fish, meat and Marche granola. I ordered the morning bun and Marche granola at the restaurant for breakfast. Made with toasted oats, dried fruits and caramelized nuts, served with Nancy Yogurt, this granola is heaven on Earth!
Driving further into Oregon’s Mount Hood Territory, I found a wonderful food community at Our Table Cooperative. I introduced myself to the cashier at the regional co-op farm store and he introduced me to Swell Granola made in Tualatin, Oregon. (By the way, you do not need to be a member to shop at Our Farm Store!) Swell Granola is a different type of granola, as it is grain-free. Low in sugar, yet high in protein, Swell Granola is lentil and bean-based granola. I’m told that Jake Wightman, being highly allergic to typical ingredients in “healthy snacks” couldn’t find a dessert or snack that was low in sugar to accommodate his grain-free diet. Using maple syrup as a sugar substitute and a combination of almonds, pecans, cashews, coconut oil, carrots, coconut flakes, chia seeds and flaxseed meal, Swell Granola was born. Congratulations Jake; you created a swell, healthy granola!
My next trip to Oregon found me in high desert country – Bend, Oregon. I stayed at the lovely Tetherow Resort – a golfer’s paradise – and discovered another tasty granola. I’m sorry to say that Chef Zac Hoffman doesn’t sell his granola so you’ll have to Visit Bend and Tetherow to try it.
Another discovery from San Francisco’s Winter Fancy Food Show was Viki’s Granola. Long Island mom Viki Sater started Viki’s Foods when she made a batch of granola for her daughter’s school bake sale. Since then the company has introduced apple cinnamon, banana walnut, blueberry almond and maple cranberry, in addition to original granola. Dairy free, gluten free, non-GMO verified, Kosher Pareve and available in 12oz bags and on-the-go packs, Viki’s Granola goes with me in my travel bag.
Finally, I enjoyed a house made granola at The Resort at Paws Up near Missoula, Montana. Like Tetherow, Paws Up doesn’t sell their granola, but they do offer amazing food and wine culinary events, in addition to world-class horseback riding in Greenough, Montana.
If you made it through my entire list of Top 12 Best Granola Finds, you’ll see that I favor California granola. Feel free to e-mail me your favorite granola find. Until then, keep on traveling and I look forward to discovering more granola to add to the list!