My love of breakfast is pretty well established. Not only is my Instagram feed chocka with variations of avocado on toast and a million ways to eat chard before 9 am, but I will eat breakfast at non-breakfast times too. I sometimes prefer it that way. That way I can legitimately have dinner leftovers for breakfast! I can’t be the only one who does that. Am I?Just the other evening I really couldn’t be bothered to cook something ‘proper’ for myself. Instead of succumbing to the really quite palatable tofu dishes at the local Chinese takeaway, I put together an omelette with some amazing Scottish goats cheese and a dusty jar of white asparagus. It took five minutes and tasted like heaven. Anyway, the point is, like age is just a number, breakfast is just a word. You don’t have to eat it before 9 (or 11, if you are a teenager). As long as it is (mostly) balanced – some ‘good’ carbs, healthy fats, decent protein, who cares when you have it?
But sometimes things like granola are different. I know they are breakfast food. It lives in the supermarket, somewhere between the oatmeal and the Honey-Nut Cornflakes. Legit brekkie food. But really, shouldn’t most granolas hang out with the snacks and the sweets? I mean, look at the label. Look at the sugars. Hell’s teeth, that’s a lot of ‘energy’. Even the healthy ones with the letterpress stamped recycled card boxes are basically flaked grains soaked in sugar. There are exceptions, but crikey they are pricey.
I know there are good reasons to buy granola. At least there are whole grains. At least there are nice nuts and seeds. And maybe some cute hipster at the farmer’s market makes the best stuff you have ever tasted. And has his address printed on that letterpress label (I know you aren’t a stalker though). I buy that. Or I would if a cute granola-selling hipster was at my farmer’s market. But making granola is one of the easiest food things you do. Not smash an avocado on toast easy, granted, but then smashed avocado doesn’t make your house SMELL LIKE A BAKERY.
I’ve already got a couple of granolas here on food to glow – So-Cocoa Granola and Good For You Granola – but this new-ish one is too good not to share. The big tweak is nut butter. Or rather, seed butter. So good. We spread it on anything that you might spread dairy butter: sunflower seed butter and sorghum molasses on soda bread is a fab breakfast treat.
The first time I made it I used bought no-sugar peanut butter, but I have since been making it with homemade sunflower seed butter. Use any nut or seed butter that you fancy but I have an easy-peasy seed butter recipe for you below.
Making your own is SO much cheaper than bought stuff, and so easy you will want to make it regularly. Here’s a post from Tessa Domestic Diva on the finer points of seed/nut butter making. I picked up my tips from her.
As for the granola, it really isn’t just for breakfast. In fact I enjoy it most as a dessert option, with yogurt or almond milk. Kids often really like granola and with homemade you can customize to suit your little – or big – ones. I’ve also made it double up as crumble topping too. Instead of the butter, flour, perhaps oats, definitely plenty of sugar topping, just spoon warmed granola onto hot and sticky cooked fruit of your choice. My photo is of the very last of the English forced rhubarb studded with sunflower butter granola. I didn’t even get a bite!
Last year: Golden Apple Pie Pancakes (g/f and d/f)
Two years ago: Rocket and Pumpkin Seed Pesto Pasta
Three years ago: Sushi Made Simple
Miss R’s track of the week: Everything She Wants by Saint Raymond
The sunflower seed butter is toasty, a tiny bit sweet and with a hint of balancing salt, but use bought nut butter if you fancy it, or if you don’t have a sturdy food processor.
To make this a ‘pb&j’ version dollop on teaspoon sized blobs of good jam after you have spread the granola onto the baking trays. Try not to mix in the jam when you turn it: the jam turns into little sweets as it bakes.
120g (1/2 cup) sunflower seed butter (see below) or other nut or seed butter
170g (1/2 cup) liquid sweetener of choice (less if you like) – we like date syrup or pure maple syrup
1 tbsp walnut oil or rapeseed oil
1 egg white, whisked until foamy (optional) *
Seeds from ½ pod of vanilla (about 2 inch piece) OR 1 tsp real vanilla extract
¼ tsp salt
400g (about 4 cups) mixture of rolled grains of your choice. I use rolled oats (not instant-type), rye flakes, barley flakes, buckwheat flakes and puffed quinoa. Gluten-free version: g-f oats, buckwheat flakes, quinoa flakes, teff puffs
3 tbsp chia or flax seeds
125g (about 1 cup) roughly chopped nuts – we like pecans and walnuts.
* this helps with the crispness and reduces the amount of added oil that might be needed. You can skip this step though. Chia eggs won’t do the same thing.
1. Line two large baking trays with parchment paper. Preheat the oven to 135C/275F. Use trays with the highest sides that you have. This will help when it comes to stirring the granola.
2. In a large saucepan melt the sunflower seed butter, sweetener, oil, vanilla and salt over a low heat. When it just starts to bubble pour in the grains and nuts, stirring very well with a large spoon. Fold in the egg white, if using.
3. Divide the granola mixture between the two trays. Put them in the oven and bake for 45 minutes, stirring every fifteen minutes. Pull the trays out of the oven just when it all looks evenly toasted and your house smells edible.
4. Allow the granola to completely cool on the trays before storing in an airtight container.
Delicious. Incredibly useful stuff.
2 cups raw sunflower seeds
2-3 tbsp walnut oil or rapeseed oil
1 tbsp good honey OR date syrup (I’m not keen on stevia in this)
¼ tsp fine salt OR none at all
1. Heat the oven to 150C/300F. Pour the sunflower seeds onto a baking tray and roast in the oven for about 30-40 minutes, until golden and toasty smelling. Stir occasionally. Allow to cool before making the butter.
2. Pop the seeds into the jug of a powerful blender (I use my Froothie Optimum 9400) or the bowl of a heavy-duty food processor. Blend until they start clumping a bit; pour in the oil while the machine is running. Keep blending until it becomes smooth, adding a little more oil if it seems dry after two minutes.
3. Add in the honey and salt and blend until it is as smooth as you like it to be.