Turmeric and Wild Blueberry Granola

Chocolate Granola

(Chocolate granola)

Truth be told, being more of a muesli or overnight oats kinda gal, I used to be completely unenthusiastic about granola for breakfast. Also chalk it down to being a little slow on the uptake, as far as most bandwagons go. Microwave mug cakes for example (a regular baked chocolate cake just seems so much more satisfying). ‘Good’ chia pudding. Rainbow cakes. Or kale paired with chocolate. Although I suspect one day I may just rescind on that last statement. (Hey, I’ve seen mushrooms dipped in chocolate. Anything is possible these days) Most trends have completely bypassed me on the food highway, but now granola has officially made a pit stop.

It all started with a trip to Las Vegas a few months ago, where we sat in a little stripmall cafe having a breakfast sandwich of peanut butter, banana and granola. As well as being delicious and a textural marvel, it was probably quite apt to find a sandwich Elvis Presley would definitely approve of in Las Vegas. When we returned from our holiday, I decided to try my hand at making granola, with some future pb+b sandwiches in mind. The sandwiches never happened. Seems like the appeal had more to do with time and place. And yet now I find myself in what I’ll probably look back and call ‘my granola years’. That time I made a different flavour of granola every week because I’d suddenly become so fascinated with the possibilities, and the great texture they added not just to breakfast, but later-in-the-day ice-cream and cakes.

Chocolate Granola

My version of granola is barely sweet and not very greasy. It keeps crisp in an airtight jar for what I presume is a fairly long time, though no batch I’ve made has ever lasted beyond two weeks, thanks to my new habit of snacking on small handfuls of granola at any time of the day. The fun thing about making your own is the complete freedom you get to play with flavours. A simple base recipe can be transformed into apple pie spiced granola (with the addition of apple juice, cinnamon, fresh and dried apples and walnuts), green tea granola (another favourite), chocolate granola, five spice granola and now, turmeric and blueberry granola.

Turmeric and Wild Blueberry Granola

(Turmeric and wild blueberry granola)

This turmeric and blueberry granola was inspired by Chika, and tastes -amazing- with coconut yoghurt.

Turmeric and Wild Blueberry Granola :

150g rolled oats
30g coconut chips
60g whole unblanched almonds
1 1/2 teaspoons ground turmeric
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
pinch of sea salt
1/2 teaspoon vanilla powder or extract
1 x orange, zest and juice
70g brown rice syrup
10g extra virgin coconut oil
30g dried wild blueberries (or substitute with dried cranberries)

Preheat the oven to 175’C.

Place the rolled oats, coconut chips, almonds, spices, salt, vanilla and zest in a large bowl. In a small pot, heat the orange juice, brown rice syrup and coconut oil until melted. Pour this over the oat mixture in the bowl. Stir well to completely coat the oats. Tip the mixture onto a large lined tray, spreading it out evenly.

Bake for 20 minutes (or until golden brown), stirring the granola occasionally to prevent the clumps at the edge of the tray from browning too quickly. Remove tray from the oven, allow to cool, then stir through the dried blueberries. Store the cooled granola in an airtight jar.

Turmeric and Wild Blueberry Granola

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Trail-mix Oatcakes

(Trail-Mix Oatcakes)

So last week I decided to give up sugar for a week. Initially my plan was to go sugar-free for two months, but The Boyfriend rolled his eyes and suggested I first try it for a week before launching into any unrealistic, grandiose statements. He was right of course. He knows me too well!

In case you’re wondering how it went, well it’s not easy coming to any healthful conclusions after only being sugar-free for a mere week (the primary instigator for this little experiment was a few articles I read recently about why we should eat less sugar). I have however learned a few things, mostly about myself. Firstly, that I love fruit. Despite expecting cravings for cake and chocolate during my sugar-free week, it was actually fruit that I missed the most. After one week (or six days, if we need to get all technical and judge-y) I panicked at the thought of missing out on the trailing end of what has been a great stone fruit season. The first piece of fruit I bought and ate, albeit a slightly underripe white nectarine, tasted absolutely heavenly.

Secondly, food tastes especially good when it has that balance between all the elements we associate with flavour; a little bit salty, a little bit sweet, or bitter, or sour. Which explains why nuoc cham and teriyaki are some of my favourite sauces. It also explains why I’m unexcited at the thought of continuing this experiment for another week, let alone two months.

Our household already tries to eat as few additives as possible and it’s pretty much standard practice for me to reduce the sugar content in the recipes I use. As Ellen Degeneres once said, “Life is about balance. The good and the bad. The highs and the lows. The pina and the colada.”

Trail-Mix Oatcakes :
Not too long ago, I happened to make these not-very-sweet oatcakes topped with some trail mix. They were the perfect segue into my sugar-free week.

125g plain flour
125g stone-ground oatmeal
pinch of sea salt
pinch of baking soda
40g sugar
60g butter

to sprinkle on top : your choice of a mix of dried fruit, toasted nuts, pumpkin seeds and sunflower seeds

Place all the dry ingredients (except for the trail-mix) in a bowl. Rub in the butter, then add enough water to form a soft dough. Roll the dough out on a floured surface to roughly 5mm thick. Sprinkle the trail-mix over the dough and lightly press to ensure they adhere. Use a pastry cutter (size of cutter is up to you; I used a 5cm diameter one here) to cut round circles of dough. Scraps of dough can be rolled again and cut. Arrange the cut circles on a lined baking tray and bake in a preheated 190’C oven for 10-15 minutes. The oatcakes will be lightly golden and tender.

Tip : You can decrease or omit the sugar in this recipe for a more savoury oatcake to enjoy with cheese or as a platform on which to build a quick snack – maybe sliced avocado with sprouts and herbed yoghurt cheese!

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My life in 5 (cent) pieces

(Banana, cashew and sesame flapjacks)

Recently while trying to reduce the clutter in our house, I found the coin pig which B keeps his change in. He has a thing for not carrying spare change around. I have a thing about clutter. We don’t actually own that much stuff (aside from (ahem) cookbooks) but the truth is, my brain has a crazy way of coping with stress. When stressed, some people shop. I declutter.

So I made it a mission to get rid of every single coin and for the past week have been walking around with an extremely heavy wallet, slightly fearing that I would be caught out on a lie if anyone were to ask me for spare change. Interestingly, I’ve discovered that :

1) A friend will hear of my plan for total spare change dissipation and call it crazy. Why don’t you just take it to a bank? Well I could.. but how boring is that?

2) Twenty 10-cent pieces buys you a pretzel from the Swiss Bakery on Oxford Street. But I have a strange propensity towards apologising when paying in small currency (why? It’s still legal tender) so I’ve given up buying pretzels for the time being.

3) The local newsstand seems to welcome spare change, so I guess I’ll be getting the newspaper from them more often.

4) When a scruffy lady approaches you with a request for a donation to a charity you hadn’t heard of before and you offer her your 5-cent pieces, she will say no thanks and walk away. B says this only further confirms his theory that carrying too much spare change makes you a social leper.

5) Twenty 5-cent pieces also buys you bag of rolled oats from the supermarket. But the lady behind the counter will inspect every single coin closely and hand back to you the rogue New Zealand coin lying innocently in the pile. Once you’ve gotten over the embarrassment however, you can use the bag of oats to make Dan Lepard’s halva flapjacks. Trust me, after you make these, you’ll never use or want another flapjack recipe ever again.

For my flapjacks, I used roasted cashews and whole dried bananas (chopped) instead of the dates and walnuts. The lovely sesame flavour and chewiness of these flapjacks reminded me of Jupiter Caramel Bars (for those of us who are of an age substantial enough to remember those..). Spare change never tasted so good.

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