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M-M-My Granola!

Every time I make my breakfast, I find myself singing My Sharona, (with head banging bits)… I love the Knack, but it isn’t that. Is it the beat? The haircuts?

It is, of course, down to my latest favourite breakfast: granola. I had never eaten granola until Rachel (@ladytubedriver ) at my Slimming World group asked me if I could try to make something that would work within our Slimming World diet requirements. So with nothing but a rough idea of what granola was, I worked through Google and set about removing the oil and sugar to make a lowfat version.

It was… ok… it needed much longer baking than I gave it, and went stale and soft rather quickly. It was back to the drawing board.

Camilla at Rude Health warned me that it was very hard to make lowfat granola. It is intrinsically high fat. But I was determined to at least give it a try. To help me to work out what was so delicious about granola Camilla also sent me a sample (sample? hey, she is a generous lady, I received a fullsized pack, thanks again Camilla) to try out.

I worked my way through that packet in double quick time. Waitrose hadn’t started to stock Rude Health Granola at that time, but I needed more granola, so I tried out Dorset Cereals Honey Granola.

Both of these granolas were much better than mine had been, and raised the standard I wanted to achieve.

I decided that I liked both equally. Both these granolas are packed out with seeds and nuts, not very sweet, no raisins or dried fruit, and crunchy without being hard. Back to my drawing board with a much better idea of what I was aiming for.

Leafing through my Nigella Feast one day, I came across her recipe for Andy’s Fairfield Granola.. This sounded the business. But still very sweet by the sound of things. Could I cut the sugars down and perhaps the oil and still get good, golden granola?

Oh. Yes.

M-M-My Granola is like Goldilock’s porridge. Just. Right.

What I have also discovered is that good granola is very much a personal thing. You may like more oaty goodness. You may like more nutty nuggets. You may even (god forbid..) like it sweeter. But this is how I like my granola, and why I get through a shedload of it each week.

My Granola

You need two groups of ingredients, the dry cereal itself, and the “glue” to stick it together into crunchy lumps.

For group one I like a rough ratio of:

50% by weight grain flakes : I use jumbo oats, porridge oats and fine oatmeal in whatever proportion I fancy, or have hanging about in the cupboard. You could also add any other grain flakes you like the sound of.

25% by weight seeds: linseed, hemp, sunflower, pumpkin, sesame are all seeds I have in the cupboard so I just mix up whatever takes my fancy.

25% by weight nuts: Almonds. hazelnuts, pecans are a must, but you could use any nuts you like.

So ingredients for my usual batch are:

Group 1:
600g grain flakes
300g seeds
300g nuts

Group 2:
1 tbs oil – any flavourless oil is fine, I use grapenut
2 tbs sweetener – you can use honey, agave or date syrup, or I have happily used marmalade
2 tbs apple sauce – either home made apple sauce or bought (I use Sainsbury’s Bramley Apple sauce)
2 tsps ground cinnamon
1 tsp vanilla extract
half tsp salt

Chop the nuts up somewhat (I use a mini food processor, I have also used a mortar and pestle which worked fine), add to the grains and seeds in a medium size bowl. Mix well.

In a small saucepan mix the Group 2 ingredients, warm until they can easily be combined. Tip into the dry mix in the bowl, and thoroughly combine.

Tip the granola mix out onto a baking tray, spread out roughly, don’t break the lumps too much, you want them to stay stuck together. Bake at Gas Mk 3 for between 40 mins and an hour, raking through from time to time so that it browns evenly. You are looking for a deep golden colour – it will still be soft, as it crisps up as it cools. Allow to cool, and keep in an airtight container.

(For Slimming World converts, 1 oz, 28 grams, which is approx a level one third measuring spoon has 7 syns. If you can stop at one ounce in a day, you are a better man than I am, Gunga Din.)