I am a creature of habit. This seems like a strange admission to be making because until lately, I’ve never considered myself one. I like my fair share of excitement. I like discovering new things and going to new places. I’m not afraid of change. To admit that I’m a creature of habit makes me sound like a dullard, I fear. Someone who is so set in their ways that the prospect of change seems like a frightening proposition.
The fact is, sometimes we don’t avoid change things because we fear it. Sometimes we simply like things just the way they are. Take breakfast. The odd restaurant brunch non withstanding, I’d be hard pressed to remember the last time I had anything but cereal for breakfast. To me, cereal is perfect breakfast food. I’m not talking about your average box of Cheerios, or any of the hundreds of sugar laden cereals lining the grocery store shelves these days (Mark Bittman calls most cereals “miniature cookies in a box”). I like some of the cereals put out by Lifestream and Kashi, which are made from whole grains and have a high fiber content. But my favourite cereal, hands down, has to be granola. A good granola is light and crispy yet filling, delicious with milk or yogurt, topped with any fruit, or even eaten plain, as a snack. Unfortunately, most of the brands available in the supermarket fall short. They’re loaded with refined sugar, loaded with bad fats, and not at all tasty. You could buy artisan granola at stores such as Whole Foods, but they’re woefully expensive. I have found it’s easier to make your own. That way you can save a few bucks, tailor it to your tastes, and always have a fresh batch around. It’s so easy to make and much better than any granola you can buy in the store, in my opinion.
I make my granola low-fat. Okay, it’s not super low-fat because I add quite a lot of nuts. But nuts are healthy, as are the ground flax seeds I use in addition. I find they give the granola an extra nutty flavour, though you might want to halve the amount I use in my recipe, or skip them altogether if you don’t like the taste of them. Instead of using oil, I add egg white to the recipe for binding.
My recipe here is a guideline. You can mix up the variety in the nuts and dried fruit, add more fruit…whatever you like. This is just a starting point.
Homemade Low-Fat Granola
5 cups (450g) rolled oats (not quick)
1 cup (100g) slivered almonds
1 cup (100g) pecan pieces
1 cup (100g) dried cranberries
1/2 cup raisins (50g)
1/2 cup (125ml) ground flax seeds
1 cup (100g) flaked coconut
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
3 egg whites
1/2 cup (125ml) honey
1 tablespoon canola oil
1) Preheat oven to 400F. Toss the oats, nuts, cranberries, and raisins in a large bowl with the flax seeds, coconut and cinnamon.
2) Beat egg whites together with the oil and pour into granola. Add the honey. Mix until very well combined.
3) Spread granola out on a pan lined with parchment paper. You might need 2 pans to ensure the granola has enough space to cook evenly. Bake for 30 minutes, mixing up the granola with a spatula after 15 minutes. Cool.
Store the granola in the fridge in an airtight container, otherwise the flax seeds–and eventually the nuts–will go rancid.