Special granola recipe inspired by her mother

Jennifer Stultz

Judit Hodges grew up in Hungary, with a mother who had an auto-immune deficiency, in a culture that didn't allow opportunities for personal advancement. Hodges, now married to Pratt native Dennis Hodges, has lived in Pratt County for five years and became an American citizen just last year. She is grateful to be in a place so different from where she grew up. She has also been inspired by her experiences to create a business making and selling healthy foods, particularly granola.

"We make all of our own food now," said Dennis Hodges. "We believe your health depends on what you put into your body."

For more than 30 years Judit worked with her mother to find healthy food and create lifestyle changes to solve problems associated with rheumatoid arthritis, allergies and obesity. When Judit met Dennis 16 years ago in Europe where they were both working for the same media marketing company, he also struggled with weight, allergies and health issues. Together they came up with an all-natural combination of ingredients that became Junula granola, Just Nuts Granola.

"We have been playing with recipes for years," he said. "Our desire for healthier eating alternatives led us create this gluten free, dairy free, grain free, soy free, no added sugars, no preservatives, low-carb, vegan and paleo food that is really good."

By changing their diets and learning to tap into vitamins and minerals found in healthy food, the Hodges are now healthier than ever. Judit's mother, who was at one time given a prognosis with only a few months to live, is now 70 years old. She still lives in Hungary, but she has been able to stop taking any drugs and her immune system is now strong, her pain almost gone. Her improvement came about after a change in lifestyle and switch to a low-carb, gluten-free, dairy-free diet.

"Healthy eating can be a challenge," Hodges said on her website www.junula.com. "It makes us happy when we find products that meet our needs.”

Dennis Hodges said the couple is now able to share their findings and offer a tasty healthy alternative to others who are purposeful about their nutrition and lifestyle.

After years of vetting ingredients and finding the right vendors, they debuted their granola products at several Pratt-area farmers markets this year. They offer three varieties of granola, all in 12 oz. bags: Cherry Berry, Just Enough Chocolate and Tropical Sunrise.

"We buy all of our ingredients direct from suppliers to make sure we get the best," Hodges said. "We mix and adjust to get the right balance of crunch, bite and chew in each mouthful."

Right now, the Hodges make all of their granola cereal products in their own kitchen at Elm Springs.

"We can mix about 15 to 20 bags at a time," Hodges said. "The volume we make at a time really varies according to demand."

At the Pratt Farmers Markets, where the Hodges began selling their granola this spring (one session indoors in April, then outdoors at Merchants Park the first two Saturdays in May) they have been met with overwhelming interest.

"There haven't been large crowds because of current circumstances, but almost everyone we have met has bought our product, and come back for more," Hodges said. "We are so happy to live in such a supportive community and have met so many people who are truly interested in learning to eat better and eat healthier."

Just Nuts Granola is packaged in low-impact, K-State tested, paper craft bags that allow for a long shelf life. Their logo and packaging was designed by another Pratt native, Scott Gross, who also happens to be a fan of their food.

"By far the best [granola] I have ever had," Gross wrote on a website review wall. "I recommend Just Enough Chocolate; love, love, love it on top of my cereal of by the handful."

The Hodges sell their products at farmers markets, take orders on their website and Facebook page JuNla Just Nuts Granola, as well as make deliveries in Pratt and Barber counties. Shipping is available throughout the United States.