Trader Joe’s Gluten-Free Granola

I used to shop at Trader Joe’s a lot.  But, it’s nearly a half-hour away, and since my regular grocery trips already take me to three separate stores trying to accomodate our gluten-free, dairy-free, peanut-free diet, I needed to trim down my stops.  Until last week, I hadn’t been there for a good six months.

But, on my rice milk recipe (which I still make every 10 days or so), a reader recently posted a comment about Trader Joe’s now having calcium-containing, gluten-free rice milk.*  And, at a recent homeschooling field trip, an old acquaintance had brought some of Trader Joe’s gluten-free granola, and wanted me to try it.  She’s not gluten-free;  she just likes the taste.  Wow.  You don’t often find non-gf’ers eating g.f. food just for the taste of it.  So, I thought it was time for a trip.

I have good news and bad news about TJ’s g.f. granola.

The good news is that it is really tasty.  At my store, there were two types:  Loaded Fruit & Nut, and Tropical Forest.  “Loaded” lives up to its name.  Tropical Forest has vanilla and coconut flavor (though, to my 6yo’s dismay, no actual coconut), and has Brazil nuts (which he, who is mostly nut-free, seems to tolerate well) and dried banana chunks.  I do not like those banana chunks.  They’re chewy/hard, brown and altogether unappetizing.

Both granolas’ substance is primarily made up of very small corn flakes and BB-sized nuggets that are strikingly similar to Perky’s Nutty Rice cereal.  Both granolas also contain flax seeds and sesame seeds.  The cereal is not clumped, like “normal” granola.

The only bad news, other than the weird banana chunks, is the price.  It’s $3.69 for a 12 oz. pouch.  $3.69.  That’s a chunk of change for a smallish bag that makes about five reasonably-sized servings.

While the granolas were worth a try, and I might buy them again on a special occasion, the price is prohibitive.  For our one-income family who’s already shelling out a chunk o’ change for weekly groceries, that is just too expensive for a bag of cereal.

However, all is not lost;  getting the granola has inspired me to try concocting my own.  I don’t know why I’ve never tried it before.  I make homemade g.f. everything, and have long-lamented the dearth of good g.f. granolas on the market.  I think, though, that it would be pretty easy to combine some Nutty Rice, some g.f. corn flakes, mixed dried fruits and seeds like pumpkin and sunflower, and maybe even stir them together with a light honey-sugar syrup so that it would cause the ingredients to clump.  I’ll post a recipe, once I try it, if it’s successful.


* They do, indeed, now have g.f. organic rice milk.  It comes in quart and half-gallons.  $2.69 for a half-gallon, which is reasonable.  It does contain calcium and a few other vitamins.  HOWEVER, it contains NO protein.  I got a few half-gallons for back-up, but I can’t see serving my kids a protein-free liquid as their staple “milk.”  


About Karen Joy

I'm a partially-homeschooling mother of six -- 3 boys ages 19, 17 and 15 years old, and three girls: 11, 8, and 3. I like birding, reading, writing, organic gardening, singing, playing guitar, hiking, the outdoors, and books. I very casually lead a very large group of homeschooling families in the Phoenix area. I have a dear hubby who designs homes for a local home builder and who is the worship pastor of our church. I live in the desert, which I used to hate, but now appreciate.

Posted on March 24, 2008, in Celiac Disease, Cooking/Baking/Food/Recipes, Dairy-free, Gluten-Free and Food Allergy Resources, Shopping. Bookmark the permalink. 10 Comments.

  1. “For our one-income family who’s already shelling out a chunk o’ change for weekly groceries…”
    Gives me a great opening to ask a question – I’m trying to be a little more frugal of late and almost fainted when I actually totaled up what we (my wife and I) spend at the grocery store in the course of an average month. I’ve really been trying to buy more intelligently over the last few weeks and have made some headway, but I still think there must be a way to do better and not resort to eating dirt, sticks and leaves. I’d love some advice from the pros, if the pros are in an advice dispensing mood :-).

  2. We found the same thing with it and had the same issues… decent, but very expensive cereal with exceptionally odd bananas. 😀

    We make our own and I used Natalie’s Granola Recipe at Gluten Free Mommy as a Starting point. I should post ours one of these days 🙂 Basically, we substituted rice flakes for the GF certified oats (they didn’t fit in our budget) Substituted dried cranberries and our own dried blueberries for the fruit (dates and raisins aren’t popular at our house), left out the chocolate chips, and I happened to have some coconut oil, so we did use that. The results were very well received here. 🙂

    I’m sure you’ll come up with something marvelous though, and I’ll be looking forward to your version!

  3. These recipes and ideas are great!
    What are the GF certified oats, though? I’ve never heard of them but would like to find them.

  4. I just was in contact with Trader Joe’s and found out their rice milk is about the same as Rice Dream and is made at the same manufacturing facility using the same process. Rice Dream gives me a terrible gluten reaction, although it says gluten free on the label, and Trader Joe’s rice milk seems to do the same. Supposedly barley is used in the processing but they get it all out in the final product, is what Rice Dream says. Has anybody else gotten sick from these two things?

    • Our family had a disturbingly shocking insight about rice milk. When my son was around 9 months, I supplemented nursing with rice milk & naively believed the label’s ingredient list. By the time he was 13 months old he was having seizures. With lots of digging, researching and phone calls, I found out that the Whole Foods brand of rice milk that we used was loaded with barley. Within a week of taking him off the milk, his seizures were mostly a thing of the past. And his recovery was remarkable. He will be 3 at the end of the year & our journey continues to be challenging. We are constantly amazed at how foods affect his health & behavior.

      I wish we had a Trader Joe’s even remotely near our home. They seem to have a lot more options than the limited supply we have at our stores.

      • Kris, wow — seizures. That’s scary. I have heard that Rice Dream had (has?) barley malt in it. Was that what your son was drinking? Are you still giving him rice milk? You may want to try my recipe (click on “all the gfcf recipes” tab above) for rice milk, especially if you’re in an area where you’re not satisfied w/ the selection. Don’t pine over Trader Joe’s, though! Really. They’re great for some stuff, but many people who are on a strict GFCF diet won’t shop there, because of cross-contamination concerns over their house-branded foods. Most of the foods labeled GF also have a cross-contamination warning.

  5. I am stoked to have stumbled upon this website. We are a family of three with many variables contributing to our diet. We need gluten and dairy free foods, both my husband and daughter are hypoglycemic as well as having IBS and extremely high metabolisms. We are financially struggling because of our grocery bills and hungry!!! Do you have any advice, any recipes? We love granolas, bars, cereals, pastas but can’t afford to buy.

    Any help is GREATLY appreciated.


  6. Hate to tell you this, but that’s a pretty good price for granola, especially gluten free. You are going to spend the same or more buying ingredients to make your own. As someone who makes and sells granola, that’s a steal.

    • I guess you’re right. Lately, I’ve been buying Torn & Glasser organic Hemp Plus granola in bulk (yes, I know there’s most certainly a cross-contamination risk, but so far, so good!), and that is roughly $3.50/lb… And, I’m pretty sure the TJ’s g.f. granola (which does not contain oats) is now $4.29/bag or something like that. It’s over $4, at least at my local store. So, it’s not like it’s crazy-expensive, but it’s definitely too expensive for my everyday cereal.

    • Must say I agree. TJ’s cereal compares in taste with Galaxy brandy gf granola, which is selling for $6+ for the same size bag.

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