Derby Day Oatmeal

by Kaylee Kroyer, RD, LD, Healthy Living Coach, YMCA of Central Kentucky

Derby pie is a staple in the Bluegrass State. The combination of pecans and rich chocolate make for a tasty treat to enjoy while watching the horse races. I believe he flavors of Derby Pie can (and should!) be enjoyed all year long, so I created this Derby Day Granola recipe. I want to be clear; this is not meant to be a substitute for the real thing, but rather a second way to enjoy the combination of flavors.  

As a Registered Dietitian, I love creating nutritious meals without sacrificing taste. By using wholesome ingredients, we can create delicious and satisfying meals that provide us with the nutrients we need to be well while still being enjoyable to eat. I encourage you to focus on quality over quantity when it comes to your “diet”, by seeking high quality ingredients instead of simply counting calories. Do a bit of research into the health benefits of the foods that we eat. In doing this, you’ll find that there is added value to certain foods beyond their calorie content.  

I love to make my own granola because it’s easy and it’s significantly cheaper to make at home. Additionally, we can control exactly what does into our granola, we can jazz it up with different types of nuts and seeds or dried fruit. We can use honey or maple syrup to add a touch of sweetness and leave out the unneeded added sugar. Different ingredients offer unique flavors and textures to really spruce up the granola. Truly, the possibilities are endless, and you can make it just how you like it. I want to take some time to showcase the ingredients that I chose to use in this recipe and highlight the nutritional value of these items as we begin to focus the ways that our food choices fuel our bodies to be the best that we can be.  

Old Fashioned Oats are the main event for this recipe. Oats are an excellent source of complex carbohydrates to provide long-lasting energy and fuel for our bodies. They’re high in fiber which works to regulate our digestive system and can also help to lower LDL or “bad” cholesterol in the blood. Men need about 35 grams of fiber per day and women need about 28 grams per day, ½ cup of oats (measured when uncooked) has about 5 grams of fiber.  

Pecans are a rich source of heart healthy fats and many micronutrients. 1 oz of pecans has 12 grams of monounsaturated fat as well as manganese, thiamin, vitamin E, vitamin B6, iron, phosphorus, zinc, and copper. Pecans are high in oleic acid and other antioxidants which work to decrease the risk of developing certain cancers. A serving of pecans also provides about 3 grams of protein to help build muscle and satisfy hunger.  

Dark chocolate is used in this recipe to compliment the roasted pecans and keep in theme with the traditional “Derby Pie” ingredients. Aside from being absolutely delicious, the dark chocolate is a great source of iron, magnesium, manganese, and copper. The dark chocolate is rich in flavonoids and other antioxidants that help to neutralize harmful “free radicals” to prevent damage to our cells.  

Honey is a natural way to sweeten foods while benefitting our bodies in a number of ways. Honey is high in antioxidants which helps to fight off diseases and keep us well. The anti-inflammatory properties of honey may be able to decrease one’s risk of developing heart disease and high blood pressure. While, yes, it is relatively high in calories and sugar, but honey is a better alternative to granulated sugar due to its additional health benefits.  

Egg white are used in this recipe to help give the granola the “crispy” texture and golden-brown color. Egg whites provide a bit of extra high-quality protein to the granola, which works to help build and maintain muscle. They are also a great source of potassium which is needed for healthy muscle function and bone density.  

Canola oil is used in this recipe in substitution of melted butter, as some homemade granola recipes call for. Similar to the egg whites, the canola oil helps to give a crispy final product but contains monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats that are not found in butter. This simple swap results in crispy granola that is good for your heart!  

I encourage you to take a look at the ingredients you use and the foods you choose to enjoy. Every time we eat, we have the power to choose foods that fuel and nourish our bodies in order to help us improve our overall health and wellness. We can measure the value of food in more ways than the calories it contains. Food has the potential to nourish our bodies with antioxidants and micronutrients, it can fight off illness and decrease the likeliness of developing certain diseases. Food also brings us together, many of our social gatherings include gathering around a table and enjoying a meal (or some type of food) together. Choose to eat foods that bring you joy with people that bring you joy! This Derby Weekend, make a meal or snack and share it with family and friends, talk about the ingredients you used, share the recipe and most importantly, share the experience of eating!  

Derby Day Granola 


2 ½ cups of old-fashioned oats (not “quick oats” or steel cut)  

½ cup pecans, roughly chopped 

2 tbsp brown sugar 

1 tsp cinnamon  

¼ cup of honey 

2 tbsp canola oil 

2 egg whites 

¼ cup of dark chocolate, roughly chopped 

Optional additions:  

Additional nuts or seeds such as sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds, or almonds 


Preheat oven to 325 degrees. 

Combine oats, pecans, brown sugar, cinnamon, honey, canola oil, and egg whites in a large bowl. Mix well to combine. Do not add dark chocolate. 

On a greased cookie sheet, pour oat mixture and spread evenly. It’s best to not overcrowd the pan and to have a single layer of oats across the surface.  

Bake for 10 minutes, pull from over and redistribute the oats, shift the granola from the edges to prevent burnt bits. Put back in oven for an additional 10 minutes.  

Allow oats to cool completely before adding the chocolate. Store in an airtight container for up to 2 weeks (if it lasts that long 🙂 )