Saturday, 24 October 2015

Beating the Breakfast Blues: Jamie's Granola Dust

OCD Panic Rating: 1/5
Handwashes: 1

I've never been great at having breakfast.  First thing in the morning, the last thing I want to do is cook anything elaborate.  Some mornings I don't even feel like I can manage anything more than a cup of tea.  What makes this annoying is that I always feel better if I have a proper breakfast, whether it's something on toast, some fruit, or the occasional bowl of cereal.  It sets me up for the day, soothes my often-unsettled stomach, and stops me having a sugary midmorning snack.  And, yes, the evidence is really on breakfast's side too.

My need for a proper breakfast has increased recently.  I've been doing shift work for a while, meaning that my meal schedule has been haphazard, differing from day to day.  Now, I work five mornings a week, with no break before 1 pm, making a good breakfast essential.  Seriously essential: I missed breakfast one day and was making sharp comments at staff, students and passing strangers until I was fed at lunch.  Not a great way to spend a morning and not a particularly professional way to appear to my new bosses.

Thankfully, Jamie Oliver's new Everyday Super Food book has a big section on breakfast.  Most of the recipes are a bit labour-intensive for first thing, but his granola recipe looks healthy, easy to throw together, and has the advantage of lasting for weeks.  

The recipe simply involves roasting some oats, nuts and seeds, before blending them together with fruit, a bit of orange peel, cocoa and ground coffee.  It makes a rough dust that you can use for cereal, smoothies, with fruit and yoghurt, all sorts.  

I had a large glass container to tip it into but halved the recipe to ensure it would all fit in.  This is a wise move, as the recipe makes a very large amount of the dust.  Although the recipe doesn't specify it, I found that it's best to let the roasted oats cool before you whizz them up.  I didn't think about this and ended up putting them into the jar hot.  This is fine, but they need to cool off before closing the airtight seal or you're going to end up with moisture affecting the texture and prematurely spoiling the mix.

The smell is great: the cocoa and orange give it an appetising sweet smell that lifts its rather drab appearance:



By itself, it's not great to eat.  I stuck a finger into the pot to try it out and almost choked.  The taste is fine but the texture is not pleasant on its own.  It's like nicely-flavoured dust and is definitely more appealing when you have a slightly coarser grain to it.  I think I'll only blend it very briefly next time, just to get everything to mix properly.

My first breakfast with it involved sprinkling it over raspberries and yoghurt.  Still not a massive success.  It's a bit claggy, imparting the flavour but spoiling the texture.  You need to add some milk to stop it sticking to the roof of your mouth.

I was starting to worry that I had a lot of gross (and reasonably pricey) dust to get rid of.  Thankfully, there are ways that it is really nice!  The husband has tried it as porridge and was pleased with the results.  Apparently, the nuts give it a bit of texture and you still get the gentle chocolate orange taste coming through.  Top with some fruit and it makes for a very nutritious breakfast.

Personally, my preferred way to have it is as part of a fruit milkshake.  This morning, I blended it with some raspberries, milk, yoghurt and a drizzle of honey, and it made a thick milkshake that was surprisingly filling.  Considering the nuts, seeds, fruit, oats and calcium in it, that's not a bad quick breakfast, particularly for those mornings when the thought of consuming actual food is just too exhausting.  It works with blueberries, strawberries and bananas too, so I imagine you could enjoy a different smoothie every morning for a month without too much effort.

Apparently, it also works in pancakes and as a hot drink, so there are other ways to use it up.  I don't think it has the right texture to just be used with milk as a cereal replacement, but it makes a great accompaniment to other things.  I'll make it a bit coarser next time, maybe not even blitzing the seeds, to give it a better texture.  After being unimpressed, it's something I can see having a ready supply of in the kitchen.

Key Points:

  • This is a great recipe for using up leftover bits and pieces.  I put some desiccated coconut in mine, and will be bunging in some leftover ground almonds when I top up the pot next time.
  • Let the mixture cool before whizzing.  Heat leads to moisture, which will not create ideal storage conditions.

Win Rating: Depends how you have it, but generally it's a solid 3/5.

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