If the word granola conjures images of lava lamps and love beads, Austin’s House Granola might just spark a stereotype revision. Owner Holly Henderson is ushering the original “hippie food” into a new era, marked by wholesome, local ingredients and a commitment to giving back to the community.
For years Henderson was a professional food photographer, but when her nephew House, born with Down syndrome, passed away in 2012, she was inspired to shift gears and start her own business. House Granola not only bears his name, but the company has pledged to donate a portion of all proceeds to Down Home Ranch, a working farm and ranch in Elgin. “It’s a facility that houses around thirty special-needs adults, and they have this gorgeous farm,” Henderson says, her eyes lighting up. “They teach them how to farm and take care of animals, and they’ve started their own farmers market on the weekends.”
In addition to this loving tribute to her nephew, Henderson’s unique granola blends are each named after family members: The original House Blend contains Independence coffee (from Brenham), almonds, agave nectar and maple syrup, while Mimi’s Mix, named for her 98-year-old grandmother, contains coconut, cashews, almonds and Good Flow Texas wildflower honey (from Austin). And Bubba’s Blend, which contains Swift River pecans (from Lockhart), maple syrup, pepitas and currants, is named after her dad.
The ingredient lists say it all—what you see is what you get. And unlike most mass-produced cereals and granolas on grocery shelves—touted as healthy but often masking huge amounts of sugar, unnecessary oils and additives such as inulin or soy protein isolate—House Granola is keeping things real and simple. “If you look at the ingredients, there’s usually a ton of sugar,” Henderson explains. “So I try to keep it low. By using natural sugar, there’s a lower glycemic count.”
In 2014, Henderson took her commitment to using all-natural, mostly organic ingredients—sourced locally whenever possible—one step further. House Granola became 100-percent gluten-free and earned an official certification. “The oats are inherently gluten-free, but unless they’re tested and certified, there could be ‘blow in’ from other farms or in the facilities they’re processed in. So I thought buying the oats that are certified and moving into a facility that’s also certified would make sense, and also open up a whole new market for people who are gluten-free.”
Located in Oak Hill, House Granola’s gluten-free kitchen is also home to the soy-, gluten- and egg-free vegan Better Bites Bakery and next door to energy bar makers Bearded Brothers. When asked if this was some kind of cult complex, Henderson says with a laugh, “Yeah…we’re a cult of healthy people.”
Available at Royal Blue Grocery and Central Market locations, as well as neighborhood markets in Austin and Lufkin, House Granola is busy—and expanding rapidly. In addition to welcoming her new baby boy Bruno into the fold last year, Henderson has been working on getting her granola into more stores in Austin as well as Dallas and Houston, and she’s also in the process of perfecting a granola blend that’s entirely nut-free. —Anne Marie Hampshire
For brick-and-mortar locations, recipes or to order online, visit housegranola.com