Last month, we took a little vacation in Canada. R was in Toronto for work so I joined him there and on the weekend we drove up to Gananoque. We stayed in a darling little b&b that turned out to be a great find. Our host was a wonderful lady who has put so much love into her home that it shows in every little detail around the house. We spent hours reading on the porch overlooking a pond, or enjoying the sun on the barge in the water. It was one of those getaways that made us think (once again) about living in the country. Slowing down. But we know we could never give up the city life. The sirens of NYC have somehow become comforting (sad I know). Perhaps we just make sure we always find time to get away, just for a little bit every now and then, to quieter places like this and that’s perfect enough!
Each morning, our host made us the best breakfast I have eaten in a long time! Breakfast was a three-course meal starting with home-made granola, served with yogurt, fresh berries and maple syrup, followed by either Eggs Benedict or Waffles. And the final course was dessert – a delicious Apple Crumble. Yes, dessert can be part of breakfast in a perfect world *le sigh*
On both days we easily spent over a couple of hours on the breakfast table chatting and mulling over whether we should have just more piece of that crumble (R) or just one more teeny tiny bowl of that perfect granola (me). For me, the granola was the clear star. In fact I rediscovered my love for granola that weekend and pretty much declared it the best breakfast/snack ever invented. Here’s why:
1) It is packed with nutrients and natural fiber because of the variety of nuts , seeds and oats
2) It is versatile and can be made to suit your taste (choose your nuts, dry fruits, make it less sweet or more)
3) It is 100% vegan if you have it on its own or with almond milk!
4) It is easy to carry around in a little baggie (our host packed us some to take back on our long drive home) – and makes for a great travel snack!
5) Ummm did I mention just how delicious?
Of course, once we were returned from our trip, I was obsessed with making granola at home. I made many batches, some with pistachios and coconut shavings, some with dried cranberries and peanut butter, I tried all combinations. R thinks I am nuts (no pun intended). Sometimes when we are both sitting on the couch with our laptops and we look up at the same time with that “I’m not really hungry but what yummy thing can we munch on” look, he’ll roll his eyes and say “you are going to say granola, aren’t you?”. Uhmm yes.
So there you have it. My favorite recipe down here. I like it best with a few heaped spoons of natural yogurt topped with blueberries. I then mix it all up and squish the berries, and I swear each spoonful is crunchy *magic*.
Recipe (prep time 45 min)
What you will need:
Rolled Oats – 200 gms
Walnuts roughly chopped – 100 gms
Almonds roughly chopped – 100 gms
Pecans roughly chopped – 50 gms
Hazelnuts – 30 gms
Flaxseed – 50 gms
Sunflower seeds – 50 gms
Dried cranberries/ blueberries – 50 gms
Maple Syrup – 1/4 cup (or more to make it sweeter)
Coconut Oil – 1/4 cup (I used slightly less)
Cinnamon powder – 1/4 tsp
Vanilla extract – 1/2 tsp
Preheat oven to 325 degrees F. Line a baking tray with parchment paper and keep ready.
In a medium bowl, add all rolled oats and sprinkle cinnamon powder. Mix well.
In a small bowl, add all liquids – coconut oil, maple syrup and vanilla and then drizzle half of this over the oats mixture. Using hands mix making sure everything is nicely coated with the syrup.
Spread this mixture evenly over the lined baking tray, making sure it’s not too crowded (I did this in multiple batches), and pop into the oven for about 15-20 minutes or so. Make sure to pull it out once in the middle to give it a stir.
Once all rolled oats are toasted in the oven, add them to a big bowl. Now add all chopped nuts and rest of the coconut oil syrup mixture and mix well with hands.
Spread this back on the lined baking tray and continue to toast for another 20-25 minutes, until golden and crispy. Again pull out once in the middle to stir and make sure even cooking.
Once done, pull out and cool on a cooling rack. The granola will harden as it cools. Once cool, toss in the dried fruits and mix well. Store in air tight container. This lasted us just about a week! Though I think it should stay fresh for a couple of weeks at least.
Serve with yogurt / almond milk (vegan) , fresh berries and some more maple syrup if required. Enjoy! =)
(Tip: you can literally put any type of nuts you want in your granola, even some fruits like bananas work well but maybe reduce shelf life. Don’t be afraid to change quantities and proportions of the nuts and dry fruits. Just make sure to always half toast the rolled oats first, since nuts tend to cook quicker and can burn very fast!)