Granola, Granola, We Love Ya, Granola…!

About five years ago, we went off breakfast cereal entirely. We had been working on our diets, lowering our sodium, increasing fibre, and generally getting rid of things with excessive sugar or additives. Around that time I started experimenting with various recipes – some were too sweet, others were too fatty, but bit by bit I found what works best for us.

I often get asked, “what’s the recipe?”, and the truth is, there isn’t exactly a recipe. Here’s what I do:

Preheat oven to 350F, and line two cookie sheets (whatever size you have, which is why it isn’t a recipe…) with parchment paper. This eases cleanup and makes sure nothing sticks.

On each sheet, put a layer of large flake, old fashioned rolled oats. Not the quick cooking kind! Sprinkle with some dried fruit, probably half a cup or so is enough. Some recipes suggest you stir it in at the end, but I like the toasty, caramel-y flavour it gets if you bake it in. Next, add a sprinkling of nuts or seeds. In these photos, the top one has raisins and pumpkin seeds, while the bottom one has dried apricots and walnuts. Sometimes I’ve added coconut or dried bananas; these up the calories but it’s your call!

Drizzle each sheet with 2T (30ml) of pure maple syrup (not pancake syrup, please!) and 2T of canola oil. Other oils will work but this oil is Canadian and doesn’t change the taste. Sprinkle each sheet with cinnamon and stir all of it together. I’ve made this in a bowl before, but I’m lazy about doing extra dishes, even with a dishwasher. You could make a single sheet, but if the oven is going I figure I  should use the energy wisely.

Put the sheets in the oven around the middle rack (not too high, not too low…but you know your oven best). Set the timer for 10 minutes and stir. Depending on humidity and lots of factors, the granola will take more or less time. You want  a nice toasty golden colour.

Cool this, put in mason jars and store. You don’t need a lot – a serving is about 30g or an ounce if you’re watching your calories, topped with a banana or some berries. We use soy milk on ours. It’s also lovely sprinkled on ice cream or yogurt.

Enjoy!

 

Speedy Sunday Pancakes

  
It’s Sunday morning and we are rushing around to get out the door (again). No excuse not to have a delicious breakfast in our bellies! 

For two:

In a blender, whirr 

2T / 30ml flaxseed to grind (always keeps better if you grind as needed)

Add

3/4 c  180ml buckwheat flour 

2 t / 10ml baking powder

1T / 15 ml brown sugar

Pulse to mix

Then add

1 c / 250 ml almond milk 

1 large egg or egg substitute 

1 T / 15 ml butter or oil or coconut oil

Mix just to combine (you might need a spatula to help).

If needed just enough milk to make a thick but pourable batter.

Pour pancakes into  a nonstick pan buttered or sprayed with cooking oil on medium high heat, about the size of your palm. They will spread and puff a little.

When bubbles appear and the edges start to look dry, time to flip. My frypan does four at a time. 

They can be kept warm in a 150F oven as additional batches are made. Recipe can be doubled. Finished pancakes can be frozen with parchment in between for reheating in the toaster.

Serve with fruit and maple syrup.

Never underestimate the power of a healthy start…

  Right out of the gate most mornings, we walk or go to the gym. Not a leisurely stroll, but a brisk pace, almost a run. Himself having longer legs, I have to work a little harder to keep pace. Then, back home, we have breakfast before setting to work on the day’s tasks. Once in a while our schedule means we don’t get the walk in until later in the day, and when that happens, we notice a difference. Keeping fit and eating good food, prepared from scratch gives us energy and we feel sharper and better able to cope with the day – however it turns out. We’re grateful we can afford good food, but we have also found that eliminating processed food from our diets isn’t any more expensive, especially if we plan our meals and avoid waste by using what’s on hand and buying just what we need to round out the menu. 
This tasty oatmeal is made in less than ten minutes using large flake or steel cut oats.

For two, in a microwave-safe bowl:

3/4c oats

1-1/2 c water

1 large Apple, diced

2 T chopped nuts or seeds

Sprinkle of cinnamon

Cook on the oatmeal setting, or alternately, 3 minutes on full power plus 5 minutes on 50% power. Enjoy with milk or nut milk if you prefer, and a little maple syrup.

No Toast? Try Rost(i)…

Not wanting to heat up the kitchen to make bread, potatoes were just the ticket for today’s breakfast. We’re keeping an eye on the Open Championship while we catch up on our reading.

To make this:   

We grated two potatoes and chopped some greens, green onions, and herbs from our garden. In a well seasoned or nonstick pan with just a touch of olive oil, we cooked them until they were getting golden. A flip (messy is okay) and we added an egg for each. Once more over easy, we served them with some avocado and tomato, and a sprinkle of smoked paprika. They were, in a word, the breakfast of Champions.

Happy Canada Day Breakfast, Eh?

   
   
Delicious. That is all. 

We're crazy for crisps…

English friends, full disclosure…not chips, or what you might call crisps. Fruit crisps are a summer dessert and breakfast staple. This one started with a layer of stewed rhubarb, although simply chopping with a little maple syrup would work well. Any summer fruit (or mixture) will do.

Put the fruit in a square pan. In a large bowl mix 1/4c melted butter, 1/4c maple syrup or brown sugar, 2c large flake rolled oats, and 1/3 c each of unsweetened coconut and walnuts. Change it up with nuts and seeds as you like. Add more oats until you have a consistency that’s not too wet and sprinkle over the fruit.

Bake in a 350F oven for 30 minutes for pre-cooked fruit or up to an hour for fresh fruit, until topping is nicely browned and fruit is soft and bubbling. A glass pan lets you see what’s going on underneath.

We served ours with a tasty yogurt topping but whipped cream, ice cream or nothing at all and it would still be divine. (1/2 c fat free plain yogurt mixed w 1t maple syrup and 1/2t vanilla is plenty for two).

  

We really tarted up breakfast this morning…

  

A sure sign of the spring food garden is an abundance of rhubarb. In fact we had so much last year, that a whole bag went undiscovered in the back of the freezer and we found it when tidying up to prepare for this year’s harvest. This delicious tart is one of the results.

Stew at least 4 cups (1l) of chopped rhubarb with sugar to taste (we like ours tart, no pun intended) and cool. Eat as is, or to make this tasty tart, preheat oven to 375F . On a sheet of parchment, roll out one sheet of puff pastry to about 12″/30cm. Place on cookie sheet. Put rhubarb in the centre and turn in edges to lap over filling and contain it, leaving top open. Brush pastry with a beaten egg and bake for about 30 minutes or until golden. We served ours with a spoonful of plain fat free yogurt, sprinkled with a little cinnamon.

Love the coffee mug? It’s from Krysta Oland’s Morning Sun Pottery.

The Old Ways Aren't always the Best Ways…

We’re always reading and exploring information about healthier food choices. One really interesting documentary we watched this week is Forks over Knives, which presents a case for a whole food, plant based diet. While we haven’t thrown away all our food and started fresh, we were already proponents of eating real food, prepared at home. Our first step on the journey is to return to eating far more fruits and vegetables, and to reduce the prime position animal products are taking on our table.

So why feature these breakfast eggs in today’s post? Eggs Benedict are an old favourite of ours. We’ve eaten many, and fed them to our friends. But this is definitely a healthier option.

  
These poached eggs are served on a whole grain buckwheat English muffin loaf, which is topped with mashed avocado. Hothouse tomatoes are on the side. What could we substitute next? Perhaps some cooked mushrooms and chickpeas? Watch this space for more healthier food choices. Meanwhile, this is as good as any Benny, and moving us in the right direction.

A Breakfast Worth Celebrating

  It’s well known amongst our friends that we love a celebration. Today’s breakfast is a salute to Cinco de Mayo. One of the great things about having a multicultural family is more excuses to get together, reconnect, and of course, eat delicious food. Our whole wheat tortilla is topped with salsa, black beans, avocado, tomato and a scrambled egg. This will get us off to a running start, for sure!

Bake on Saturday, Loaf Around Sunday

After a quick trip to the T-Dot to visit the kids and the in-laws, life is getting back to normal, food wise, at least. Yesterday I baked an updated version of English muffin loaf, with multigrain flour instead of white. It’s a fast mix, no kneading, and you can ignore it and do other chores during the rising. Here’s the recipe:

2c plus 1 T/265 ml  multigrain flour (make your own or try a mix including bran, rye, oat, spelt, kamut, or cracked wheat, and flax or sesame seeds if you like)

1T/15 ml or 1 packet active dry yeast

2t/10ml brown sugar (or honey or maple syrup)

1c/250ml lukewarm 1% milk (any milk will work, including nut milk)

1/4t/2 ml baking soda

Mix dry ingredients (except soda) in a large bowl. Stir with a wooden spoon to make a thick batter, then for 15-20 seconds more until it looks stretchy. 

Cover with a tea towel in a warm place and let rise for about 45 minutes til double.

Dissolve soda in 1T/15ml water and stir vigorously into batter, continuing just until it looks stretchy again. 

Grease or spray an 8″ loaf pan. Scrape batter in, cover with towel and allow to rise again about 40 minutes.

Bake in a 375 oven 45-55 minutes until it sounds hollow when tapped on the bottom. Remove from pan right away.

Tastes best when toasted.

We had ours with a pepper and mushroom omelette. The sun is finally doing its work and the snow is beginning to recede. Thankfully, we just might see spring after all.

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