Thursday, September 13, 2007

The early bird gets... the toasted grano-muesli?

To say that I’m not a morning person is an understatement. No one in my family is – except perhaps for Mum, who is now hard-wired to rise at about 6am after years of getting up early to cook for ungrateful school kids. But long-suffering family members, previous flatmates and now Mr B. can all attest to my, er, less than ladylike demeanour in the mornings (that’s the polite version).

Of course, it helps to have something you actually want to eat ready and waiting as you stumble bleary-eyed from the comfort of your duvet. But, because of the morning grumps, I’ve always been incredibly bad about eating breakfast – with the inevitable consequence of craving something a little later on, usually when I’m somewhere near a big slice of cake. And so begins the blood sugar rollercoaster…

To try and tackle this, I’ve been looking for a good granola recipe for a while. Sainsburys used to make one I loved but then they messed with perfection and that was the end of that. Besides, I live at least a hundred-odd miles from the nearest Sainsburys these days (perhaps no bad thing), so I headed into the kitchen to create something that would, hopefully, make getting up worthwhile.

What I’ve ended up with is more of a toasted grano-muesli base. Doesn’t sound very exciting does it? But here’s why it works (for me, anyway):

· Many granola recipes call for a lot of honey or sugar, which is going to have the same effect on my blood sugar as that mid-morning slice of cake, whatever my good oat-based intentions. Cutting down on the honey helps combat this but, unfortunately, it means that the granola doesn’t really clump together properly.

· I’m a fickle creature. I very rarely want the same fruit/extra goodies in my cereal from one day to the next. Creating a ‘base’ means I can just add whatever I fancy on any given day (today it was raspberries and yogurt), rather than slowly coming to hate that large jar of, say, coconut and raisin granola that’s lurking on the shelf, casting injured looks in my direction. Yes, granola has feelings too.

So... am I springing out of bed these days, full of excitement about the day ahead? Well, let's say it's a slow work in progress but this nutty, lightly-spiced grano-muesli certainly helps!

Toasted grano-muesli adapted from Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone by Deborah Madison

(Makes enough for 1 person for about 1-2 weeks, depending on your morning appetite)

You’ll need:

3 cups of rolled oats
½ cup of chopped almonds (or walnuts or pecans or whatever takes your fancy)
½ cup of sunflower seeds
½ cup of wheatgerm
½ teaspoon of nutmeg, grated
1 teaspoon of ground cinnamon
Pinch of salt
¼ cup of sunflower oil (or canola)
1/3 cup of honey (or golden syrup or maple syrup)

1. Preheat the oven to 300F/150C/gas mark 3. Toss the dry ingredients together, then add the oil and honey and toss again to coat thoroughly.

2. Spread the mixture on a roasting tin and bake until golden, turning every 10 minutes so that it browns evenly. This should take about 30 minutes.

3. Remove from the oven, allow to cool and then store in an air-tight container.

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