My Basic Granola

Summer seemed to take forever to arrive, the winter just wouldn’t let go of the weather spotlight. Despite its tardy arrival, summer is well and truly upon us and with the warm weather comes a change in how I eat and cook. Summer breakfasts often revolve around seasonal fruit, yoghurt and granola. The last few days have been super scorchio and this morning’s break in the heat meant I was finally able to get into the kitchen to top up our granola supplies.

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Making homemade granola cannot be easier and you can tailor the recipe to suit your tastes and pantry staples. I always use oats as my base, however if you are after a gluten-free option they can be replaced with another whole grain, like quinoa flakes or buckwheat. Oats are a wonderful source of soluble fibre, they are easy to digest and help to prevent big spikes in blood sugar levels. Go oats! I used spelt flakes in this batch as I had them in the pantry, they bring a whole heap of nutritional benefits to the party too (fibre, iron, zinc, magnesium and protein), as well as a great nutty flavour. I like to include quinoa flakes as they add a great protein hit. The puffed millet isn’t essential, I had some to use up, however it does add another textural element though, as well as protein, fibre and niacin. Puffed brown rice would work too.

Really, the combination of whole grains is completely up to you. At the end of the day, I don’t choose my grains based on their individual nutrient profile. I go with what is in my pantry and the flavour combos I like. Including wholegrains in your diet though is definitely a good thing, as they deliver plenty of health benefits. They are a wonderful source of fibre, protein, heart healthy fats, B vitamins and minerals. plus they are delicious and pretty budget friendly too.

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The same can be said about the nuts, seeds and dried fruit. I like to add chopped almonds, pumpkin seeds, sunflower kernels, sesame seeds and chia seeds as I always have these beauties in my pantry. Really the type of seeds or nuts that you use is totally up to. use what you have and whatever floats your boat.

The almonds are full of heart healthy monounsaturated fats, especially oleic acid which helps to lower blood cholesterol levels and reduce blood pressure. There is also plenty of vitamin E in almonds, which acts an antioxidant mopping up free radicals produced in the body. I always keep the skin on my almonds as the flavonoids found in the skin combine with the Vitamin E doubling the antioxidant activity. The consumption of almonds has also been shown to reduce the overall glycemic load of a meal.

Sunflower seeds, whilst small, offer a nutritional punch, providing some B vitamins, particularly folate, protein and heart healthy fats. Pumpkin seeds are the mineral warriors of the group, full of zinc, magnesium and iron. The sesame seeds, as well as providing plenty of Vitamin E also provides a good amount of calcium, which is perfect if you don’t have cow’s milk with your granola. I love adding chia seeds to meals as they provide plenty of fibre, protein and some iron, folate and calcium.

When it comes to dried fruit, again it is totally up to you. I always tend to use a few dates, some goji berries or dried cranberries and I will throw in some shredded coconut to the mix too. Sometimes I forget all about the fruit and I don’t miss it one bit.

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To help my granola crisp up and become all crunchy delicious I coat the mix with some coconut oil. Due to super hot Summer temperatures, I tend to find my coconut oil in a liquid stage, which is super helpful. If the weather is cooler I melt it first.

My granola is sweetened with a little bit of maple syrup, because we all need a LITTLE sweetness in our lives. It is the minimal added sugar content of my homemade granola that makes this granola way better than anything found in a packet in the supermarket. It is best to remember that the dried fruit, if using, does bring its own brand of added sugar to the party, so factor this into to your day of eating food.

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My Basic Granola

1 cup whole oats
1 cup rolled spelt
1 cup quinoa flakes
1 cup puffed millet
1 cup raw almonds, roughly chopped
1 cup pumpkin seeds
1 cup sunflower kernels
1/2 cup sesame seeds
4 tbsp chia seeds
1 cup shredded coconut
1/3 cup coconut oil, melted
1/3 cup maple syrup or raw honey
3 tsp vanilla extract or the seeds from two vanilla pods
1/2 cup goji berries or dried cranberries
6 medjool dates, pitted and diced

Preheat your oven to 160C.

Place the oats, spelt, quinoa flakes, puffed millet, almonds, pumpkin seeds, sunflower kernels, sesame seeds, chia seeds and coconut in a big mixing bowl. Add the coconut oil, maple syrup and vanilla and mix through until every grain, nut and seed is coated and glistening.

Place half the mixture onto a large baking tray and the remainder onto another large baking tray. Pop into your oven and bake for twenty minutes. Keep checking the granola every five minutes and using a spatula or large metal spoon turn the mixture over gently. I do this whilst the tray is in the oven, however if you are worried about spillage then remove the tray and turn the mixture over and pop back it.

whilst the granola is looking a beautiful golden colour and the smell is wafting throughout the kitchen, it is time to remove it. Let the granola cool a little on the trays before tipping into a big mixing bowl.

Let the granola cool completely and then stir through the goji berries and dates. Store your granola in a large glass jar.

 

Hopefully, you will enjoy this granola as much as we do. The beauty is in its simplicity and you can change up the ingredients and flavour to suit you. Tag me on Insta #liaburtonnutrition if you make a batch and tell me how you love it.

 

My top 5 tips for an organised pantry

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I wish I had a beautiful walk-in pantry lined with open shelves, filled with matching jars full of nourishing wholefoods like the ones I find on Pinterest. Alas, I have a boxy corner pantry, which must have been designed by a seven foot man-giant. The shelves are so deep I can’t even reach the back where the corner meets. The shelves are so tall that I require a stool and tip-toes to reach the top one. Forget about anything that finds its way to the back of the top shelf, it’s in pantry purgatory now. It doesn’t help that I’m all of 155cm tall, the fact remains my pantry was not designed with me in mind. The likelihood of a new pantry situation is zero to none, instead I make use of what I have and make sure that it is organised within an inch of its life. Otherwise I would spend even more time standing in front of it, holding the door open looking for some kind of inspiration from the food gods as to what to cook for dinner.

If your pantry is more food jungle than organised food bliss my simple steps can help you out. I do recommend finding a couple of hours, as this level of organisation requires a bit of effort, however the results are well worth it.

Step 1. Clear everything out

Take everything out and place it on your kitchen bench. Get rid of anything that is full of junk, overly processed and doesn’t nourish your body, or is out of date.  If it’s not there you cannot to eat it. I know if I have chocolate in my pantry I will find it and eat all of it, in one go.  Lastly give the shelves a good old wipe down to make everything clean and sparkly.

Step 2. Organise everything into sections

Once you have gone through all the food that was in your pantry and chucked anything you don’t want anymore, divide what is left into usable sections.  Think about who needs to access the foods in each section and make sure they can be easily reached.  I have my breakfast section down low so that the kids can easily make their own breakfast of a morning.

I have my pantry divided up into:
+ cereals – rice, pasta, noodles, etc
+ flours – I only keep the ones I use very often in the pantry, otherwise I pop them in the        fridge to stop them going rancid.
+ baking, including sweeteners – maple syrup, vanilla, baking powder, etc.
+ seeds, nuts and dried fruit
+ whole grains and legumes – quinoa, brown rice
+ condiments – tamari, ketchup, apple cider vinegar, etc
+ breakfast – oats, granola, rolled spelt, muesli, etc
+ tins – chickpeas, tuna, coconut milk
+ teas and coffee

Step 3. Jar and label

Buy some jars or reuse what you have already. I tend to grab my jars from Ikea or Kmart as I like to put the foods I use often, like spelt flour, into bigger jars. I reuse all my smaller jars for food I keep smaller amounts of, like dried beans. Label every jar so that there is no forgetting what is inside it and so you can easily locate what you are looking for. Think about investing in a label machine or source some gorgeous labels like these ones here and here.

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Step 4. Use your space

Pantry shelves can be deep and tall, I know mine are.  They can also become quite tardis-like when left to their own devices. Packet of 2 year old masa harina anyone?  To avoid the old chuck-it-in-and-hope-I-can-find-it-when-I-need-it routine, I use removable shelves to double the space and keep things more visible.  I picked mine up from Ikea.

Step 5. Fill it with the good stuff

I love this step.  It makes sense that if you have put in all the hard work clearly out all the junk that you only put back the food that will nourish your body.  You know, real ingredients with which to make delicious and nutritious meals for yourself and your loved ones.  Us mummas are a busy bunch and by stocking our pantries with real food basics saves us time in the long.  If you know you have the basics in your pantry then a trip to the market for fruit, veg dairy and meat is all we will have to do.

If you are starting your real food journey and are a bit unsure of what you should have in your pantry keep an eye out for upcoming ‘my kitchen essentials’ to check out what I keep in my pantry, as well as my fridge and freezer.

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If in doubt, ask for help.

If you like the idea of an organised pantry full of the good stuff but feel completely overwhelmed by it all, don’t stress. Sometimes the idea of clearing out food is just way too hard, even when we know that that type of food is just not nourishing. Or you are in the first steps of moving away from highly processed foods to a more real way of approaching food and just don’t know what you should be keeping in your pantry and how to use it. All of that stuff can be totally overwhelming. We all know that when things start to overwhelm us its then that we need to ask for help. Enlist the help of a kind soul who has the goods on eating real, nourishing foods who can guide you gently through it all. There are plenty of folks out there that offer a pantry overhaul.

If you are in the Geelong region (that includes you Surf Coast and the Bellarine) I offer a Fridge and Pantry Makeover, where I spend two hours with you, helping you ditch the junk and reintroduce delicious and nutritious whole foods to your everyday eating.   As well as clearing out your pantry and fridge you will receive tips on restocking, a list of real food pantry staples, shopping tips, advice on storage and meal planning.  Plus everyone who signs up will receive a recipe booklet filled with ‘better basics’, list of seasonal produce and a shopping list template.  If you need a sparkly and organised pantry shoot me an email to book in a time.

super easy wholegrain bread

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My middle kiddo loves a slice of bread or three.  If left to her own devices, she would live entirely on the stuff.  Thankfully for her sensitive tummy I’m onto her and try to limit her intake.  I also make sure that the bread she eats is the good stuff, think spelt sourdough and homemade loaves.  I devised this bread with her in mind.  It is chock-a-block full of whole grains and seeds but isn’t too bitty, you know what kids can be like.  Whilst this bread isn’t gluten-free, it is lower in gluten than most traditional wheat loaves, and is full of oats, spelt and rye which are a little easier to digest.

My super easy wholegrain bread is basically a fibre and B vitamin love bomb.  The types of fibre found in the oats and the rye do an amazing job of regulating blood sugar levels, preventing any energy sapping spikes occurring.  Fibre is also pretty handy at keep as regular, which whilst not fun to talk about is super important.  Wholegrains and seeds are a wonderfully yummy way to get a whole raft of the B vitamins into you.  At their most basic, and lets face it when it comes to what our body actually does with the food we eat nothing is really basic, B vitamins help the body release the energy from the food we eat.  What freaking superstars.  B vitamins also do a whole heap of other amazing feats, but I feel that is post all of it’s own for another time.

We often think of bread as being a carb party and whist this bread has plenty, in the complex, slow release form, it has also invited its friends protein, fibre and fatty acids along for the ride.  Which is good news for anyone eating it as they will fuller for longer and won’t be needing to hit the cookie jar anytime soon after.

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There is magnesium aplenty from the oats, spelt and pumpkin seeds however, the presence of the phytate in the fibre-rich wholegrains can act as an inhibitor for its absorption.  But don’t fear, phytates don’t block all magnesium from being absorbed so there will be some available to assist with energy generation, protein synthesis and muscle contractibility, especially heart muscle.

We all know calcium is vital for bone structure and strength but what else does this mineral superstar, found in the rye and sesame seeds, do?  Think blood clotting, muscle function, regulating blood pressure, enzyme functioning and assisting with immune defences. Phew, calcium is a busy little bee.

Zinc in the rye, pumpkin seeds assists in immune function, protein synthesis, thyroid function, insulin release and wound healing.  Whilst the vitamin E is found in the sunflower and sesame seeds acts as a potent antioxidant, helping to defend against the adverse effects of pesky free radicals.  Vitamin E requires the presence of fat to aid help the body absorb it, it being a fat soluble vitamin and all, so feel free to slather a bit of butter on your bread.  I know I do.

If you are still reaching for a plastic wrapped wholegrain loaf from the supermarket, give this one a go.  It seriously takes 15 minutes of your actual time to make, plus you get two loaves.  The rest of the time is spent being massaged and resting in the warmth, just like the bread.  You also have the added bonus of knowing exactly what is in your bread and get heaps of  bragging rights.  Instagram pic anyone?

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super easy wholegrain bread

250g wholemeal spelt flour
250g plain spelt flour
200g rye flour
100g whole oats
75g pumpkin seeds
30g sunflower kernels
30g sesame seeds
2 tsp salt
4 tsp dried yeast
500ml warm water
2 tsp maple syrup
1 tsp milk, to use as glaze
extra pumpkin seeds and oats to top the loaves

Place all the dry ingredients, except the extra pumpkin seeds and oats, into the bowl of a stand mixer.  If you don’t have a stand mixer, like a KitchenAid, don’t worry you can still make this bread.  Just pop everything into a bowl and knead by hand when the time comes.  Add the wet ingredients, except the milk for the glaze, and using a dough hook, knead for 10 minutes.

Grease two loaf trays.  Once the dough has been kneaded, divide in half and shape each half into a loaf shape.  Place the dough into the trays, brush the tops with the milk and sprinkle over the extra pumpkin seeds and oats.  Cover the loaves with a tea towel and let to rise for 1 hour, or until doubled in size, in a warm spot.

Pop the trays into a preheated 210ºC oven and bake for 30 minutes.  Once the loaves are golden on top and sound hollow when tapped, turn out onto a wire cooling rack to let cool.  If you are at all like me, grab a serrated knife and slice of the crunchy end piece, slather with butter and pop into your gob.

Now take a photo, pop it on Instagram #liaburtonnutrition and we can all check out your amazing loaves and clap and cheer.

 

Here’s to a house smelling like freshly baked bread.

xx Lia

cauliflower and zucchini fritters - lia burton nutrition

Cauliflower and Zucchini Fritters For The School Lunch Box Win

Monday saw my kiddos go back to school after the Easter holidays and truth be told I did a little happy dance.  Don’t get me wrong, I love having them home with me. It’s a time  for sleep ins, easy mornings, day trips exploring nature and catching up with friends.  It’s also a time jam packed with sibling squabbles, noise, mess and so many requests for food.  How is it that children can quite happily have one snack break and lunch at school, but at home it’s all day grazing?  Maybe I need to bring some school time structure to the holidays. Who am I kidding, that’s so not me!  School holidays also mean I get absolutely no work done. Zilch, zero, none.  Hence my happy dance at the return to a quiet house in which I can be really productive and actually get stuff done.

Their return to school also means I’m back to making school lunches and I thought I would share with you the recipe for my cauliflower and zucchini fritters.  These little babies went down a treat with my kiddos and are perfect for popping into lunch boxes.  They taste great hot or cold, on their own or tucked into a sandwich.  I use besan (chickpea) flour in my fritters, which makes them gluten free, and also imparts a lovely nutty flavour to them.  You can substitute the besan flour for any type of flour, whatever you have to hand will work.  I just have a shed load of besan in my fridge and am finding ways to use it up.

Cauliflower and zuchini fritters

Once you get the hang of the fritter, the combinations are endless.  They are really just vegetables, egg and flour at their core.  You can use up whatever veg you have lurking in the crisper drawer of your fridge.  Think grated pumpkin and haloumi, broccoli and carrot, spinach and pea.  The idea is to get creative.  The egg is important as it helps to bind everything together.   If you are cooking for someone with an egg allergy, another protein may work, like mince or mashed beans, but don’t quote me on this.

cauliflower and zucchini fritters - besan flour - lia burton nutrition

I created these fritters with my eldest in mind.  Zoe has decided that eating meat just isn’t her bag and has decided to give it a flick.  It is a decision she hasn’t come to lightly, but she is dedicated to her new found vegetarianism.  As a result of this, I have had to get my thinking hat on to make sure she gets nourishing and yummy lunches that tick all the boxes.  Lucky for Zoe, her mum’s a nutritionist and a foodie!

cauliflower and zucchini fritters - grated veg - lia burton nutrition

cauliflower and zucchini fritters - lia burton nutrition

Cauliflower and Zucchini Fritters (gluten free, vegetarian, kid-friendly)

1 free range egg
1 cup of besan flour
1 tbsp Greek yoghurt
1 tsp baking powder
1 small zucchini, grated
1/4 head of cauliflower, grated
1/2 cup of grated cheese
1 tsp sea salt
Freshly ground black pepper

Break the egg into a mixing bowl and whisk until it has doubled in volume.  Add half of the besan flour and mix to form a paste.  Add the yoghurt and stir to loosen up the mixture.

Add the grated vegetables, remaining flour, baking powder and cheese and mix well to combine.  Season with salt and pepper.

Heat a generous amount of oil in a frying pan over a medium heat.  Add spoonfuls of mixture and cook for five minutes on each side until golden. Remove from the pan and drain on paper towel.

I like to serve these fritters with a squeeze of lemon and a little bowl of Greek yoghurt to dunk them into.

xx Lia