The whole object of travel is not to set foot on foreign land; it is at last to set foot on one’s own country as a foreign land.” – G.K. Chesterton

Tuesday, 18 September 2007

Breakfast food: crunchy muesli/granola

I do many things, but this is one thing I never do: skip breakfast. Yeah, I hear all the excuses for skipping brekkie: not hungry in the mornings, losing weight, in a hurry. Whatever! I myself don't have a big appetite in the mornings and I'm often in a hurry (who's not?) but I still eat something, or grab something to eat on the way. Skipping meals is also the worst way to lose weight and a good way to hang on to body fat. Think about it - you skip meals, go hungry and your body instinctively goes into starvation mode where your body's metabolism slows down in order to conserve energy. That's nature working to keep you alive when your body thinks there's a famine (aka starving-yourself-to-lose-weight). Then when you do eat again, you might have a bigger-than-usual meal (because you're hungry, right?), but the thing is, your body is still running on low metabolism (i.e. burning energy s.l.o.w.l.y.) and a lot of the energy you consume in that meal goes to fat. So, eating often is the key to maintaining a high metabolism, and high metabolism = burn energy quickly, and so on.

Anyway, back to breakfast. Granola is a popular breakfast cereal-type food in the US, and back in Japan I'd often wonder what my American neighbour was talking about whenever he mentioned that he ate some granola for breakfast. Found out that it is just crunchy muesli mainly made from rolled oats with a combination of nuts and dried fruits. I love toasted oats, and I would often make my own pan-toasted muesli to have with some fruits, nuts and yoghurt for breakfast. But I love crunchy stuff (gimme the crust of your toasted bread and baked pizza!) and after trying some store-bought granola, I decided that it was not too difficult to make my own at home. The main benefit of doing it yourself is that you know what goes in. None of that artificial crap that is found in many packaged cereal. Unless you want it, of course.

Oats is not so readily available in Japan (the land of rice), but it is both abundant and cheap in Australia and countless other countries. My recipe is special because it does not contain added fat (like butter or oil), but it contains good fats from nuts and seeds. I only use natural sweeteners like maple syrup and honey, and rely on the sugars in the dried fruits to add the extra sweetness. I usually eyeball quantities, and pretty well anything goes - add any fruits, nuts, seeds, spices, and even cocoa if you like (...mmm chocolate peanuts...). If the nuts and seeds are not roasted, roast them with the oats in the oven. Healthy you say? Yeah. That's the idea, right? But I warn that this is addictive - like eating sweet crisps, except it's healthy.

3 cups rolled oats
3 tablespoons applesauce (for moisture)
3 tablespoons maple syrup
3 tablespoons honey
good sprinkle of ground cinammon (I use about 2 teaspoons)
3 tablespoons dessicated coconut
a handful of toasted sunflower seeds
a handful of roasted nuts
a handful of dried fruits

1. Preheat oven to 150-160degC (~310degF).
2. In a bowl, combine the rolled oats, applesauce, maple syrup, honey, cinammon, and coconut and mix well. Give it a taste and add more sweeteners if it needs it.
3. Spread onto an oven tray, and roast in the oven for about 25 minutes. Give it a stir every 10 minutes to prevent the sides from getting too brown. The goal is to get it nicely browned without burning, hence the low oven temperature.
4. Once the mixture is browned, take the tray out and let it cool.
5. Add the extra ingredients (seeds, nuts, dried fruits) and mix well.
6. Store in an airtight container or a zip-lock bag - it should keep for at least a week, but I doubt it will last that long (especially not with me around).


  1. Yum
    This recipe rocks. I'm till not sure what the difference between granola and mueslie is but I like Jean's granola better than any mueslie I've even had.

  2. Re: Yum
    Yay! I'm happy when you say things like that! :D