Friday, July 17, 2009

Breakfast of Champions

“…the food was good solid stuff for a cold morning, all calories and fat and protein and maybe a vitamin crying softly because it was all alone.”

-from Guards! Guards! by Terry Pratchett

If this resembles your breakfast, you may need a bit of an overhaul. Perhaps some additional vitamins, minerals, fiber, and, of course, flavor to give that lonely vitamin a bit of company.

We’ve all heard (a few hundred thousand times) that breakfast is the most important meal of the day. As a coffee drinker, I have to agree that the first cup, at least, is indeed more important than anything else I’ll consume in the hours to come. I’m not sure I was all that convinced of the importance of breakfast for most of my younger years. Once I started eating something first thing in the morning, however, I couldn’t change my ways. Breakfast is important because it is addictive (even aside from the caffeine). Now, if I don’t eat breakfast, I feel pretty terrible.

I’ve mentioned before that I really like breakfast foods, and when I have time, I like to make pancakes, waffles, omelets, muffins or even something fancy like an Eggs Benedict Salad. Not being a morning person, though, those tend to be brunch foods, and breakfast is reduced by necessity to toast (usually with homemade bread, at least), yogurt, or cereal. (Harry’s favorite do-it-himself breakfasts include a grapefruit, a personal-sized watermelon, or a bagel accompanied by a chunk of cheese and a chunk of summer sausage. That final one may be beginning to resemble Pratchett’s quote above.)

Boxed breakfast cereals are pretty decent, I suppose, at least the ones that offer more than super-refined starches and sugar and a dizzying array of artificial colors. In my quest to make as much food from scratch as I could (it has been recently suggested that I should make my own ketchup!) I bid most flakes, crisps, and o’s adieu in favor of homemade granola.

I admit, I was pretty surprised to learn how simple granola really is: oats (or other rolled cereal) and some kind of sweet, flavorful coating all baked in the oven. Nuts, dried fruit, and some sort of neutral nutritive, such as flax seed meal or wheat germ, are no-brainer additions. (I would prefer to add coconut, but Harry won’t touch the stuff.) Now, I’m just as hooked on granola as I am on the concept of breakfast and, of course, the coffee that always comes along for the ride.

Here is a basic recipe for granola. I vary it depending on what I have in the cupboard, changing up the nuts and dried fruits as I need to. This is what I made last time I made granola. I like it mixed with yogurt, or with milk or vanilla soy milk poured over it. It lasts well in an air-tight container about a week. I usually freeze about half of it to keep it longer.

Decades ago, granola may have developed a reputation as fuel for alternative lifestyles, but I say, as easy as it is to make, granola is not just for hippies anymore.


3 cups old fashioned rolled oats
1 cup quick barley
1 cup chopped walnuts
1/4 cup flaxseed meal
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup honey
1/4 cup maple syrup
1/4 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup walnut oil or canola oil

Preheat oven to 325 F

1. In a very large bowl, mix the first 6 ingredients.

2. In a small bowl, mix honey through oil. Stir until well combined. Pour over the oat mixture and stir well to coat.

3. Spread mixture evenly in a large baking sheet coated with cooking spray or lined with a silicone baking mat. Bake at 325 F for 30 minutes, stirring every 10 minutes.

4. Carefully remove to a large bowl. Add dried fruit and stir to combine. Cool completely

Makes about 7 cups.

1 comment:

  1. Yum! One of my favorite desserts (not to be confused with my favorite deserts which number far fewer).