How a Bowl of Homemade Granola Saved Me From Skipping Breakfast

Homemade granola Homemade yogurt bowl with granola on black table, healthy and diet breakfast, top view

    We all have our issues with breakfast – some of us eat lots of crappy things in the morning. I can easily name a few bad options: sugary cereals, deli meats, donuts. Some of us are happy with just a coffee. Some of us skip the first meal of the day entirely. And I am no exception. Almost since forever (maybe except my childhood), I have had a strange and unhealthy relationship with breakfast. Until recently when I discovered homemade granola.

    Having breakfast was always something impossible to achieve, though I honestly tried. There was a time when I compelled myself to wake up earlier than usual to prepare a hearty breakfast. I managed to do this for only two straight weeks then a small holiday followed and when I got back home, my established morning routine was long gone. This is only one example from a long list of failed attempts – one time I had a short ‘affair’ with those praised healthy smoothies. The enthusiasm was pretty high at the beginning but it went down rapidly as I lost my patience with all the prep involved in making a simple smoothie: peeling and chopping different fruit and veggies and cleaning all that mess before leaving the house for work.

    I even tried to give up coffee and eat healthy instead. I threw all the sugary cereals from my kitchen counter and bought oatmeal, whole bread, and low-fat yogurt. Unfortunately, my healthy breakfast plans couldn’t keep up with my chaotic schedule. I soon learned that I need coffee in order to survive a stressful day at work and I slowly started to replace breakfast with it. And the biggest consequence of giving up breakfast (again!) was that I soon started to gain weight (coffee always goes well with a croissant, right?).

    Coffee

    Giving up coffee a good idea only in theory

    This roller-coaster of eating breakfast for short periods of time and then skipping it entirely, made me reconsider my situation all over again. I was in the same place I’ve always been.

    Homemade Granola: a small experiment with great repercussions

    A few months ago I started another small, yet enthusiastic, experiment! I decided to make breakfast ahead so I wouldn’t be overwhelmed with all the prep first thing in the morning. It also seemed like a good idea because when you’re cooking ahead of time you can always pack your meal if you’re running late in the morning.

    One afternoon while I was flipping through one of Jamie Oliver’s cooking books, one idea struck me all of a sudden: I could make granola for breakfast. To be honest, at that very moment I didn’t really know what a great discovery I had made. It just seemed like a good idea because I love eating all kind of nuts and seeds and dried fruits. Well, I had to add the oats, but it couldn’t be that much worse…

    One evening I made my first batch of granola and… it was just perfect! Crunchy, slightly nutty and bursting with cinnamon flavor. It was love at first sight! From that moment on I knew that granola might be the answer to a long and troubled time with breakfast.

    Homemade granola with oats, honey, and nuts

    Homemade granola with oats, honey, and nuts.

    Very soon, I upgraded the recipe to fit my own needs. For example, I ditched the dried fruit – I discovered that I prefer to add raisins or cranberries in my granola bowl after I’ve oven-baked the granola than add them from the beginning. In the same time, I started to play more with spices – along with cinnamon I added my favs: nutmeg, cardamom, or ginger. Finally, I discarded the olive oil from the original recipe: normally, the recipe calls for some olive oil because it gives the oats their wonderful crispness, but I think you can live without it if you want to cut down the calories from your granola. I surely can, knowing that one tablespoon of olive oil has around 120 calories!

    By now, my granola recipe is quite customized. And I like it like this! I usually make a double batch because I want to be sure I have enough for the entire week!

    The Recipe

    So, if you want to try it for breakfast you have to mix the following ingredients in a big bowl: 3 cups of rolled oats, 1/2 cup of pumpkin seeds, 1/2 cup of sunflower seeds, 1/2 cup of cashew, 1/2 cup of dried coconut flakes, 1 teaspoon of cinnamon, 1 teaspoon of cardamom, and 2-3 tablespoons of honey.

    To make the granola, preheat your oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit (175 degrees Celsius). Mix the ingredients in the bowl and then spread the mixture evenly onto a baking sheet. Bake the granola for 30 minutes or more, stirring every 10 minutes. Let it cool and store it in an air-tight container.

    When making granola, feel free to improvise! Actually, that’s the beauty of this dish – you can use all kinds of add-ons to avoid boredom.

    How to upgrade homemade granola to your on needs

    – play with nuts and seeds: add almonds, pecan nuts, pistachio, walnuts, peanuts, flax seeds, sesame seeds, hemp seeds and so on;

    – make smart swaps: replace classic dried fruits like cranberries and raisins with dried apricots, prunes, and even figs;

    – if you choose to add fruit, it’s important to add them after you’ve finished baking your granola – dried fruits tend to become even drier in the oven;

    – don’t forget to always add a pinch of salt, no matter what spices you choose to use – salt perks up all the flavors;

    – if you like the crunchy feeling when eating salty snacks, make sure to add oil to your granola; otherwise, it will lack that desired crunchiness;

    – cook the granola until it’s golden-brown; though, be careful with the oven temperature – it should be around 300-350 degrees Fahrenheit (150-170 degrees Celsius) to not burn your granola. Slow and low is the secret!

    After so many attempts to eat breakfast, just a small bowl of homemade granola put me on the right track.

    Since I began to make granola for breakfast in advance, my life has simplified so much – all I have to do is take half an hour of my time to prepare it. Now I don’t struggle so much with eating breakfast – I take my granola bag with me and enjoy it at the office before the day starts. When I start to get bored of mixing it with yogurt, I turn to milk. I’ve heard that peanut butter could be a pretty good option, but I haven’t tested it yet!

    Eating granola every few days helped me establish a breakfast routine. Now I don’t struggle that much with breakfast like I have in the past. I have days when I eat a donut or a piece of fruit in the morning, but every time I return to my bowl of crunchy and sweet granola.

    Here’s an upgraded version of a granola recipe, for those of you eager to be on the healthy side of things!

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