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.

 

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