Many people by this time have blown their New Year’s resolutions. Instead of giving up, just take small steps that can make a difference in your health.

Breakfast is an important part of a healthy diet. Most of us struggle with what to have on hand that is quick, healthy and gets us on track for the daily intake of healthy food. Make your resolution to incorporate more whole grains in your diet. This will be an easy one to keep if you focus on the first meal of the day.

There are basically two types of grains: whole and refined. Grain products include foods such as bread, pasta, breakfast cereals, rice, corn and barley.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA My Plate) recommends that people of all ages get half their grain servings from whole grain sources.

So, how do you determine what is whole grain and what is refined? Read the food facts label and know the symbol for whole grains. The "Whole Grain Stamp" identifies foods approved by the Whole Grains Council.

Also look at the list of ingredients. If whole grains are listed first, chances are it is a good source of whole grains.

Whole grains are good sources of fiber and B vitamins. Fiber is the carbohydrate that is non-digestible. Fiber keeps our digestive system regular and can help reduce blood cholesterol. A good goal for women is to consume 25 grams each day while men need 38 grams for their daily intake.

Visit for specific recommendations. Other sources of fiber include fruits and vegetables.

So now back to breakfast, the first meal of the day. Making your own cereal can be healthy and nutritious.

Start with a whole grain like oats. This is the base for homemade granola and also can be cooked as a hot cereal. Try this homemade version of a granola recipe to have a whole grain option for breakfast on hand.

Homemade granola

In a large bowl mix the following ingredients:

2 cups of old-fashioned whole grain oats 1/2 cup sliced almonds or other nuts like pecans or walnuts 1/2 cup shredded coconut 2 tablespoons of maple syrup or honey 1 tablespoon of coconut oil (melted to coat oats) 1/4 teaspoon of vanilla extract Optional: 1/2 cup sunflower seeds, 1/2 cup dried fruit

Directions: Preheat the oven to 300 degrees.

Combine all ingredients in a mixing bowl. Mix well and toss to coat; coconut oil can be melted in the microwave for 10 seconds.

Spread the mixture in a thin layer on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper and bake for 10-15 minutes, until very lightly toasted. Allow to completely cool before storing.

Granola can be kept in an airtight container in a cool, dry place for up to two weeks.

To use as a morning cereal, scoop 3/4 cup of granola and cover with milk. For added flavor and fiber, add fresh fruit like blueberries or strawberries. It may also be eaten as a snack or a topping for yogurt sundaes.

Visit our website at, email or call us at 689-5850 for information about upcoming University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences Extension programs in Okaloosa County.

Pamela H. Allen is the interim county director and an agent at the University of Florida's Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences Extension office in Crestview.