The essence of good nutrition starts with a hearty breakfast. In article #2, I offered a recipe for Tofu Scramble which is high in protein, has lots of veggies, and serves as a great weekend treat. Our mainstay for a weekday start to the day is actually more grain based. By incorporating whole grains into one’s first meal of the day, substantial grounding is established and protein is abundant.
Some suggestions are Rice Cream which is light, easy to digest, and gluten free. Another stable is oatmeal, the “old stick to the ribs” foundation that keeps delivering a feeling of fullness for several hours.
Depending on one’s time allowance in the morning, there are various cuts of the oat grain to fit everyone’s needs. Quick Oats cook in just a few minutes, but Rolled Oats take about 15 minutes and is quite chewy. I would avoid the instant oatmeal (usually microwaveable) because it is pre-cooked and the saving of time seriously jeopardizes the nutritional value. The “king” of oats is the Scotch or Irish type, also called steel cut, which can take even longer to prepare (almost 30 minutes) and is more chewy in texture than the rolled variety, but packs a huge 6 grams of protein in just a quarter cup serving.
Both of these hot cereals plus any of the 5 or 7 grain combinations (I recommend “Bob’s Red Mill” brand ) are quite tasty and can be augmented by a handful of delicious granola which can be easily homemade and caters to the family’s individual taste. A general recipe for GRANOLA will follow which can be altered to fit anyone’s pantry ingredients or sweetness level.
There are also many pancake and waffle mixes (many are gluten free) that when combined with soy or almond milk, a little pure vanilla extract, and high quality sunflower oil create a light and fluffy breakfast without the use of eggs. The pancakes as well as the granola are perfectly complimented by fresh organic blueberries or raspberries.
My suggestion is to top these hearty breakfast choices with REAL maple syrup from organic trees and from small family owned farms. Vermont, New Hampshire and Canada seem to be the purest in content and taste. However, don’t overlook the NY state maple farms as eating what is grown locally is always preferable. Choose grade A for the tastiest topping but the B category is good for baking or for making the granola and is less expensive. Other pseudo-maple type toppings, commercially offered, contain high fructose corn syrup, an empty ingredient which is not conducive to health.
Some like to top their hot cereal or pancakes with a dab of “Earth Balance,” a soy margarine, which in this case really only adds more fat and not much taste. These soy spreads are nevertheless wonderful for baking and for topping toast and whole grain bagels. They eliminate the dairy fat of butter, which has been proven to be harmful to the heart and arteries.
The following recipe is purposely vague in the amounts of ingredients to allow for individual tastes. I consider it as a blueprint for granola which is not an exact formula. As a rule of thumb, for every 2 cups of quick oats used in the recipe, combine ½ cup syrup: to ¼ cup of agave, with about 2 tablespoons of oil in order to lubricate the mixture before baking.
Maple Vanilla Granola
(a “casual” recipe)
Ingredients: Quick Oats, sesame seeds (raw), sunflower seeds (raw, no salt), walnuts (slightly chopped), almonds, cashews, or pecans (whole or pieces), lots of cinnamon, some fresh grated nutmeg. The nuts and seeds will roast when heated. ADD Any other nuts or seeds, oat bran and or wheat germ if desired depending on your pantry supplies.
In a separate bowl mix any combination of raisins, currants, dried but plump cranberries, chopped dates, and or dried figs, (all preferably Organic and loaded with iron and more cinnamon powder. Set aside.
Mix the purest vanilla extract, maple syrup (high grade, from organic farms preferably, agave light syrup, (note: more maple syrup than agave) and a small amount of sunflower oil in a saucepan. Stir and heat just until starting to boil…watch it closely, it will boil over! Remove and pour onto the oat plus nut mixture combining well. You might want to divide the mixture to make the blending easier. Coat the pans lightly with sunflower spray oil, and place on 2 large baking pans. Spread the oat mixture evenly onto the pans creating only one layer.
Bake at 325 degree oven for about 15-20 min. stirring away from the edges half way through as that part will get brown first. Remove from oven and when cooled, mix in the dried fruits and blend together well. Note the raisins, etc. are never cooked because some (especially the currants) will get a burned taste if baked. This way they all stay plump and fresh tasting and really add to the flavor and texture of the GRANOLA.
Store when cooled in glass jars with tight lids in the pantry. This makes excellent gifts for your friends and family in decorative jelly jars.
Wonderful as a topping for regular cooked grain cereals like rice cream and plain oatmeal. Also fine with soy or almond milk and the “new” soy, almond or coconut yogurts.
Try it, you’ll love it!
Have fun and be creative!