I am a huge breakfast fan, so would rather run late than leave the house on an empty tummy! I genuinely wake up looking forward to my first bite of the day, and luckily my children also enjoy a hearty breakfast. I like to indulge in more fancy breakfasts at the weekend, such as making fresh bread and pancakes, but on weekdays it is a more rushed affair, often between pyjama changes and me running about filling school bags! So I tend to keep my cereal cupboard well stocked and a good quality granola is often on my shopping list.
However, I’ve recently been budgeting with my grocery shop and set myself the challenge to reduce my weekly spend. It occurred to me that granola is actually ridiculously easy to make quite cheaply, but seriously over-priced on the supermarket shelves. Also, many of the granolas contain a lot of added sugar and palm oils that come from unsustainable forests. So, I decided to make my own healthier, cheaper and tastier version. I love tons of dried fruit in my granola, my husband likes a nuttier version, whereas the kids love the oats but would rather not have anything else added to it. So I now customize our granola too and am completely addicted to it! I’ve seen my husband nibbling on it as a late evening snack, which I guess beats reaching for the chocolate!
Here’s the recipe:
300g of rolled oats
100g Pecans, chopped
50g Flaked almonds
50g Linseed (Flaxseed)
6 tablespoons of good quality maple syrup or maple flavoured agave
2 Tablespoons of Blossom Honey
1 Tablespoon of Cold pressed Rapeseed oil
Two teaspoons of cinnamon
25g Dried cherries
20g Dried cranberries
50g Pitted Dates, chopped
100g Dried apricots, chopped
Pre-heat the oven to 150 degrees. Add the honey, agave/maple syrup and rapeseed oil to a large saucepan and heat gently until the syrup and oil is mixed completely. Remove from the heat and then add the oats and nuts to the syrup mixture and stir them together until they are completely coated and glistening. Cover two baking trays with baking parchment and transfer the oat/nut mixture onto this, patting them down to give a relatively flat layer. Sprinkle lightly with cinnamon and place the trays in the oven for about 20-30 minutes, until the oats and almonds have turned a golden brown. While the oats are cooking, you can weigh out the dried fruit. I use a kitchen scissors to chop the fruit into tiny pieces to ensure you get more of each fruit per spoonful! After roughly 30 minutes, turn off the oven and remove the trays. Use a spatula to loosen the oats and nuts and give them a good shake. Then, if you like a really crunchy granola, return the trays to the oven with the heat off for another 15 minutes as the oven cools. Finally, remove the oats altogether and allow them to cool completely on the tray before mixing together with the dried fruit. Store in an airtight container and enjoy for a healthy start to the day with either milk or yoghurt, or eat handfuls for a late afternoon energy boost!
Oats are a real super food and are purported to help reduce the risk of numerous diseases, from asthma to heart disease. Importantly they are high in fibre, can help reduce cholesterol, and also release energy for longer periods meaning you should be fuller for longer. Cinnamon has been shown to work as an appetite suppressant and linseed is high in soluble fibre and omega-3 essential fatty acid. Agave syrup is superior to refined sugars as it has a low gycaemic index, so won’t give a high rise in blood sugar. Dried apricots contain vitamin A and are a source of iron, and cherries reportedly contain anti-oxidants as well as beta-carotene and folic acid. There are lots of great benefits from other dried fruits that you could add too, such as banana, mango, blueberries, goji berries and figs, but be careful which brands you buy as some contain added sugars.