Hugely nutritious and easy peasy to make, granola makes you feel like Nigella in her prime even if it’s the first time you’ve ever stirred anything. You don’t really need a pinny to stir a dry mixture in a pan but put one on anyway. Indulge the part of you that might like to feed people. A gorgeous, warm and comforting smell comes off the toasting seeds and nuts pretty much as soon as you turn on the gas. By the time you’ve got it in heaping sackfuls on your larder shelf you’ve written your winner’s speech for Bake Off in your head and you’re Ready For Anything.
Granola’s secret is that is is very very satisfying. Satisfying to make. Satisfying to eat. I expect a proper analysis would reveal that the combination of protein and fat (the nuts and seeds), the complex carbs (oats) and the sugars in the maple syrup and honey speak directly to our lizard brain about security and love. Can eating home-made granola make you feel loved? Take a look at an amazing book by Sue Gerhardt called Why Love Matters : How Affection Shapes a Baby’s Brain. https://www.amazon.co.uk/Why-Love-Matters-Affection-Shapes/dp/1583918175 and see what you think. The connection between nutrition and affection is not transparent but I believe it lies at the heart of our eating disorders.
Back to the granola! A large dessert spoon of home-made granola on top of your yoghurt or porridge can give you the strength of ten. It is definitely the thing to eat before you go in to negotiate a pay rise or ask your teenager to tidy his bedroom or run that 10k you’ve been working up to. If, like me on the other hand, you are stumbling towards your computer or an armchair, go easy. I have been known to have it for dinner when I was feeling low because it is a truly nourishing thing and the fact that you made it yourself makes it all the more so. Keep it in your cupboard for days when you need a treat or extra feeding because, let’s not be coy, it is highly calorific. Treat it with respect. That’s why I keep it for Sundays.
BEST DIETING TIP EVER
The voices of punishment and deprivation that show up when we feel overweight are treacherous. Think of them as Odysseus thought of the sirens and stop your ears with bees’ wax; have your men tie you to the mast. But how? I’m going to tell you. Silence them by refusing to start with denial and self-hatred. Refuse to deny yourself porridge or granola or bacon and eggs or croissants (what kind of a life would that be?) but ALWAYS, ALWAYS have a huge fruit salad first. I mean a large dinner plateful, albeit charmingly arranged. An apple, a pear, a banana, a few grapes maybe. Elegant slices of kiwi. Chunks of mango or pineapple. Your fruit salad will reflect your resources and the seasons but make it significant – not that unfilling expensive pot from Pret. And if your fruit bowl habitually contains old biro tops and Lego, at least make sure it also has a couple apples and some passion fruit as well. While we’re on the subject, passion fruit should indeed be mentioned in despatches for they are heroes amongst fruit. Unlike the prima donna pear or peach it appears to be impossible to keep passion fruit too long for however wrinkly they become, they can jazz up an otherwise uninspired breakfast salad into a exploding taste fest.
So here’s the deal.
- Reassure the hungry one inside that food is coming.
- Now take your time to make and eat your fruit salad.
- And pause. Take a moment to sense into yourself and enquire what you really want next.
- Have whatever that turns out to be. I guarantee it will be a smaller and kinder helping than otherwise. Now the recipe.
First what my Aunty Ruby (she was great) used to call the ingreediments :
Oats – any old kind will do including the unloved ones at the back of your cupboard
Seeds – sunflower, sesame, poppy, pumpkin, all are good.
Nuts – all kinds or whatever you have to hand. Blanched or otherwise. Flaked or otherwise.
Dried fruit – dried cranberries are especially delicious but sultanas work too as do apricots or prunes chopped small.
Maple syrup or the imitation from Tate and Lyle
1. Pour several cups of oats into a large, deep frying pan. Add seeds and nuts so that the oats ideally form about half of the mixture.*
2. Add a tablespoon or so of e.g. sunflower oil – enough for a scant coating of the oats and nuts and seeds when you stir it well.
3. Toast** over a medium heat stirring frequently until you can smell them and they change colour. Breathe deeply. Enjoy.
4. Turn down the heat and add a good squirt of runny honey and a couple of tablespoons of maple syrup. Keep stirring to prevent burning but make sure the mixture is really toasted..
5. Stir until the sugars are evenly distributed and the stickiness recedes. Remove from the heat.
6. Add the dried fruit when the granola is still warm but not hot and stir it in.
7. Let it cool in the pan and then transfer to a tupperware. Bash it up if it’s stuck together.
*Nuts and seeds and fruit are expensive so if you are a bit pushed on the cash front this week, increase the proportion of oats.
**If you are using sesame seeds or poppy seeds add these towards the end of the toasting as they burn easily.
You can pop this in cellophane bags (Amazon) and tie with twine and a few orange slices (you’ve dried in the oven) for presents. We are all domestic goddesses now!