I'm a big fan of breakfast. There is nothing better than indulging in carb goodness in the form of waffles, pancakes, or my favorite, french toast with real maple syrup. Perfectly complimented with a hot cup of coffee and a splash of cream. I could eat breakfast any time. If it's loaded with sugar and carbohydrates, or a combination of both, I'm all over it.
Unfortunately, eating this way on a regular basis is not only impractical but unhealthy as well. As much as I love this indulgence as the next person I strive to take what I eat seriously. It is my health after all, and I'd like to feel better than lethargic and sugar comatose all of the time. Michael Pollan, a real food advocate, has a list of food rules that I try to follow and naturally it's led me to rethink breakfast.
Before I became interested in what I was eating, breakfast consisted of cereals with healthy benefit tag lines or toast with peanut butter, which I thought were pretty healthy until I read the labels and realized they violated rule #3; avoid food products containing ingredients that no ordinary human would keep in the pantry. Right, pretty sure I don't keep pyridoxine hydrochloride on hand. That eliminated processed cereal and bread. There are too many ingredients that are too complicated to pronounce in both of those options which means I don't really know what I'm eating even if the crafty marketing says it's healthy.
My options needed to change and I was happy to follow, but I also wanted a choice that wasn't an egg. No offense to the chicken, but I just can't swallow a hard boiled egg for breakfast every day. Since there is no time to cook before work, making homemade waffles or french toast from homemade bread is not an option during the week, and really, should only be saved for special occasions.
In walks granola. A staple on my backpacking trips, I hadn't thought about eating it for breakfast before, but it makes sense. It fits into the food rules, it's filling, and very healthy with a touch of sweetness. Now, every Sunday I bake a fresh batch for the week. It takes less that five minutes to prep and only thirty minutes to bake. I keep it on my counter in a sealed jar and it's easy to eat as cereal or with plain greek yogurt.
Homemade Granola*4 cups of organic rolled oats (not quick oats)
1 cup of pecans, walnuts, or almonds
1/2 cup of pepitas or sunflower seeds (unsalted)
1/2 cup of unsweetened shredded coconut
1/2 cup grade B maple syrup
2 tablespoons of canola oil
1 tablespoon local honey
1 teaspoon kosher salt
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1/2 cup of dried fruit such as cherries, blueberries, or cranberries
Heat the oven to 350 degrees. Mix the ingredients, except for the dried fruit, together in a bowl until completely coated. Spread onto a cookie sheet evenly. Place in the oven and bake for 25-30 minutes, tossing once. Place the mix back into the mixing bowl and toss in the dried fruit. Once cool, place in an airtight container. Enjoy with milk, yogurt, or plain.
*This recipe is really flexible. I start with this as a base and add different spices, nuts and fruits. Put in it what you enjoy!
What is in your breakfast food? Is it real food? What would you put in your granola? I'm always looking for ideas.
As part of March's 4(for) green acres challenge I'm on a mission to find the origin on the oats I use. Currently I buy oats from Market Street and Whole Foods. I've been considering growing my own, but I don't have that how to hull them part figured out yet!