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.