health and wellbeing · recipes

Crunch

To have a jar filled with toasted grains, nuts and seeds sitting on the countertop, to be scooped from when a nutritious snack is in order, is a wonderful thing.

As our chilly grey mornings have now turned to sunny ones, I’m ready to rest the tight-knit oats and opt for a more scattered breakfast – in the form of granola. Such a simple breakfast it is, with everything seedy and nutty premixed, that all that’s left to do is add the skim milk and you’re away.

The granola in our kitchen really earns its keep, as not only does it provide a breakfast staple, but is regularly topped with yoghurt and a splodge of jam to keep body and soul together between meals. Occasionally it has even been known to be the ‘crumble’ on top of hot stewed apples and passionfruit.

Granola really is a mix of grains, seeds, nuts, spices, dried fruit and a sweetener, and how you put yours together will entirely depend on the sorts of ingredients that meet your approval. Here are mine, feel free to add and subtract as you will (and should you come up with a winner – keep me updated).

6 cups oats
1 cup almonds
1 cup pepitas
1/2 cup sunflower seeds
1/2 cup sesame seeds
2 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 cup maple syrup or honey or rice syrup (depending on the flavor you prefer)

Pre heat the oven to 325 degrees celsius.

Toast sesame seeds gently in a frying pan and cool. Combine oats, nuts and seeds in a large bowl. Mix well. Add the cinnamon and salt and mix through. Warm the syrup or honey in a saucepan so it comes to a pouring consistency and add it to the mix. Turn the granola over thoroughly so that it is all well coated with the sweetener.

Spread the granola over a very large (or two) baking sheets lined with baking paper and place in the oven. Bake for 30 mins, regularly opening the oven and turning the mix so it browns evenly. When it is browned to your liking, remove from the oven and cool before storing in a sealed jar.

health and wellbeing · recipes

Oats

While families tend to sit down to dinner and share a common meal, breakfast is usually quite an individual affair. Yours may be a slice of toast between your teeth as you reach behind you to close the front door, whilst for others it has to be the full shebang of eggs, bacon and so forth.

For me, nothing other than oats will do and I have my reasons.

Oats are hearty and hot and once downed with a cup of tea chaser, I really don’t need anything other than a piece of fruit until lunchtime.  In terms of nutrition they are a natural, complex carbohydrate that provides the perfect foundation for building your day (as well as a fruit/seed monument) upon. Honey and sugar however, can quickly unravel all the good work that oat-eating does, so I find by adding a handful of raspberries to the mix, their sweetness keep things in check. Fresh raspberries are prohibitively expensive and have such short seasonal windows, so I resort to the frozen variety and keep my freezer stocked all year.
Topping your oats with a sprinkling of pumpkin kernels and sunflower seeds, ensures you’re placed well on the fibre moral highground. I buy these seeds in bulk and store them in lovely recycled jars, within easy reach.
To your bowl of steaming oats add:
a handful of frozen raspberries
pumpkin kernels and sunflower seeds to your liking
top with skim milk
If you have a lovely oats breakfast combo, I would love to hear about it – I’m very happy to extend my repertoire.
Post script: If cooking a saucepan of oats is overly time consuming for working mornings, 90 second instant oat sachets are a reasonable standby.