My sister and I were BIG cereal eaters growing up.
Our favourites were Frosties and Honey Smacks. Oh the crispy, sugary, convenient yumminess! We also happened to be blessed with a father who loved nothing more in life than to buy his little girls whatever their hearts desired. We were basically spoilt rotten. Our home was always stocked with every single type of processed delicious crap you can possibly think of; bags and bags of chips, lollies in every colour of the artificial rainbow, kool-aid and sodas galore, chocolates, candy, chicken nuggets, hot dogs…well, you get the picture. We also ate a ton of healthy food made at home, but processed food was undeniably a huge part of our diets.
To my parents’ defence, they really had no idea that these things were unhealthy…nobody really did back then. They bought them out of convenience as well as out of love, because they wanted us to have everything we liked, bless them. I will forever be grateful to the wonderfully abundant, magical & beautifully loving childhood they provided for us, and am in no way pointing fingers here.
Fast forward a couple of decades, & here I am, with a bowel disease and absolutely NO excuse whatsoever to continue putting these food-like items into my body.
They say ignorance is bliss, but in this case I’m going to have to strongly disagree. If my parents and I had known more about proper nutrition back then, who knows what we could have prevented!? Don’t get me wrong, I hold absolutely NO feelings of resentment or blame towards my wonderful parents whatsoever! I just feel that it is my responsibility now to right all these years of wrong, take control of my own health, and to do my best with what I DO know now. I also feel very strongly about trying to spread awareness on how to build better eating habits as early as possible, while at the same time stressing that it is never too late.
So here I am today, and I finally see commercial cereals for what they really are; empty, highly processed grains laden with sugar, artificial flavourings and colours, preservatives and additives. Even the ones with whole grains that claim to be healthier are a far cry from what a nutritious breakfast should consist of.
Enter homemade granola.
Homemade granola is everything cereal wishes it was. It is crunchy, crispy, deliciously addictive and phenomenally nutritious for you and your kiddos! Yes, you do have to take that extra step of making it rather than picking it up all boxed and ready-to-go at the store, but trust me…all it takes is a tiny amount of effort & planning, & that effort goes a hell of a long way.
It is as versatile as your taste is. The possibilities are endless. Try mixing up the nut and dried fruit combos and adding interesting flavours. Think; coconut flakes, sesame oil, dried apricots and figs. If you want to bump up the nutritiousness even more, throw in some flaxseeds or wheat germ or psyllium husk! If you have no idea what the hell I just said, that is ok! Stick with the basic recipe and you will find that it will evolve with you as you become more adventurous and willing to experiment.
I’d like to take a moment to stress that this is NOT me trying to guilt-trip you in any way, or that I am even remotely claiming that this has been a walk in the park for me. Dropping my unhealthy habits and forming new, healthier ones has taken me years of struggling and confusion, a generous dose of despair and even bouts of anger and hopelessness. It is hard you guys. I know that. But what I also know is that is gets SO much easier and more enjoyable as you go.
The key is to take baby steps. Start forming new healthy habits, slowly but surely, and eventually you will find that the good will crowd out the bad. It might seem hard to visualize for some of you at the moment, but there WILL come a time when you will no longer miss junk food, soft drinks, or cereals. Trust me, this is coming from the ex-queen of Pepsi and Burger King. I promise.
This recipe will take you approximately 20-30 minutes to prepare at the beginning of the week, and you’ll have your stock of gloriously delicious and nourishing breakfast cereal for the rest of the week. Eat it with your choice of milk, spoon it over some yoghurt, sprinkle over fresh or stewed fruit, or just eat by the handful! My husband loves to take a box with him to work to munch on at his desk.
Bonus: it will make your house smell like everything good in the world.
Make your own Granola
- 2 cups rolled oats
- 3/4 cup raw nuts coarsely chopped
- 1/4 cup pumpkin sunflower seeds
- 1/4 cup chia seeds or flaxseeds
- 1/4 cup raisins or any dried fruit, chopped into small pieces
- 4 tbsp coconut oil
- 4 tbsp honey
- 1 tbsp vanilla extract
- 1 tbsp ground cinnamon
- 1/2 tbsp ground ginger
- Pinch of salt
- Preheat oven to 180 degrees C
- In a large bowl, mix everything together except the raisins (or dried fruit). Make sure the coconut oil is liquid, so if the weather is too cold and your coconut oil has solidified, warm it up until it melts before using.
- Spread the mixture on a non-stick baking sheet (preferably lined with baking paper for easier clean-up), and bake in oven for about 25 min until golden brown, taking the tray out every 5-10 min to mix the granola quickly and re-spread. You want to mix it 2-3 times throughout the cooking time to ensure even browning and that the granola on the edges doesn’t get burnt.
- Remove from the oven, add the raisins (or chopped dried fruit of choice) while the granola is still hot, mix through and leave to cool completely.
- Store in an airtight container at room temperature for up to a week.
- For a more caramelized flavour and slightly clumpy granola, add 2 tbsp. coconut sugar or brown sugar to the mixture before baking.
Try different combinations of nuts, seeds and fruit. Think dried figs, dried apricots, cranberries, coconut flakes. Here I used pecans, hazelnuts, pumpkin seeds, chia seeds and raisins.