Eat: The Perfect Breakfast

Is granola the perfect breakfast? By all appearances, it is not. Let's be realistic here. The perfect breakfast surely involves bacon, and most probably a pancake or two also. The perfect breakfast is leisurely. The perfect breakfast tastes delicious and gives you lots of energy for your day, yet is also surprisingly low in calories*. The perfect breakfast wouldn't have a totally different name in America from the one all other English**-speaking countries know it as***.

The perfect breakfast - plain yoghurt with a sprinkling of granola.
The perfect breakfast - plain yoghurt with a sprinkling of granola.

But on a weekday morning, when you're in a hurry, granola and yoghurt is surely the perfect breakfast. For me, anyway. It's quick, and easy, and delicious. And because I make it myself, it's not scary.

Buying cereal in the States could well have been one of the most traumatic experiences of my life. It's really, really expensive. And it's really, really unhealthy, with so much sugar even H1's preternaturally sweet tooth had trouble with it. To avoid high fructose corn syrup, you have very few choices, and the ones you do have are - of course - even more expensive. I did not spend much time in the US before deciding there had to be a better way.

When I started making granola I based it on this recipe, but using less butter and honey, because I didn't think it needed it. It was awesome. I made it the same way for a few weeks, then started experimenting with different types of nuts, seeds, and in particular, flavours. Coffee-hazelnut-cherry is a favourite around these parts, as is the seasonal pumpkin pie, which is slightly spicy and just a little sweet.

The perfect breakfast components.
The perfect breakfast components.

When I'm just making the cereal in a hurry, though, as I am almost every weekend****, I use a hugely simplified version. This is the one I eat most mornings, with plain, thick, creamy organic yoghurt. I used to put fruit with it until a nutritionist friend suggested breaking them out and eating the fruit separately. Now, most mornings, I just eat this and follow it up with a piece of fruit for my morning tea. And it is, in my opinion, perfect.

Easy homemade granola

  • Five cups rolled oats
  • 1/4 cup sliced raw almonds
  • 1/2 cup chopped raw pecans, walnuts, or anything else you fancy
  • 1/4 cup raw pumpkin or sunflower seeds (I usually use both)
  • 4 tablespoons butter
  • 2 tablespoons maple syrup or honey
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • Pinch of ground nutmeg
  • Handful of dried cranberries
  • Handful of dried bananas

Put the rolled oats, nuts, and seeds into a large roasting pan, and shake to mix. Sprinkle over cinnamon and nutmeg. Melt butter, mix with honey or syrup, and pour evenly over oats/nuts/seeds mix. Use a large wooden spoon or similar to coat all the dry ingredients in the butter/honey mixture.

Cook in the oven at 350°F/180°C for 20 minutes, checking and shaking the mix often. When it is lightly golden, turn off oven, mix in cranberries and bananas, and let sit in the still-hot oven for 15 minutes.

And that is it. Seriously. You'll have to wash a couple more dishes, but it is so worth it - even in countries with decent, not-too-expensive cereal choices.

The finished product.
The finished product.

*Oops, may have accidentally introduced a unicorn there.

**Swiss-German also, I suppose.

***So I just did a bit of googling to make sure I wasn't missing any other countries, and apparently granola is different from muesli. Granola is toasted with a sweet glaze; muesli is not (guess which one was invented in the US? Go on. Guess!) In New Zealand I called it all muesli, but I was wrong. Who knew?

****I have tried making it in bigger quantities so I don't have to do it every weekend, but much as a goldfish grows to the size of its surroundings, H1's appetite grows to the amount of available granola.