Crunchy Granola

Crunchy Granola

The delicious goodness of home baked ‘Crunchy Granola’

Starting the day with a bowl of home-baked ‘Crunchy Granola’ is something my kids love. For so long I served them bowls of cooked oats for breakfast (because it is my favourite!) and for a long time they happily devoured it …  but then they started to get a little bored with porridge and the complaining and moaning started to creep in each morning. Living in Singapore where it is always hot, also meant it was time to mix it up and  try something new and more suitable to the warmer climate. 

This granola still has all the complex carbohydrates, fibre and goodness of a bowl of porridge but a completely different taste and texture. I love that it’s crunchy but also satisfyingly chewy and moist. Although the oven time is a little longer and I usually cooking smaller batches for best results – this part is flexible. You can cook it at a higher temperature for less time and you can put it all in and mix it up periodically as it bakes rather than small batches. This depend on your available time and individual tastes. 

My family’s favourite ways to eat Crunchy Granola are: 

 + For breakfast with a splash of milk, chopped fresh berries or banana & a big dollop of organic yoghurt

+ Sprinkled on top of a cup of coconut or greek organic yoghurt with a little berry sauce drizzled on {I make the sauce by heating a handful of frozen berries in a pan with a 1/3 cup water until berries are softened and warmed. Then blitz in blender until smooth and runny} 

+ In a breakfast trifle cup with layers of chia pudding, fresh fruit, granola, yoghurt. 

+ As a snack in a small container in lunch box. 

+ Served with some grapes and berries as a pick n mix snack.

 

++++++    Recipe   ++++++

Ingredients:

++  5 cups of organic rolled oats (Gluten Free where possible, or you can substitute rolled quinoa for naturally Gluten Free option)

++ 2 ripe bananas – mashed 

++ 2 apples, grated core and all  

++ Juice from half an orange, freshly squeezed

++ 1/3 cup Coconut oil (or melted organic butter). 

++ 6 dates, pitted and soaked in cup of hot water (then blitzed to a sauce with a stick blender)

++ teaspoon of cinnamon 

Optional: 1/4 cup coconut sugar if you need some extra sweetness (the dates and bananas are usually enough to sweeten it though). 

Optional additions for once baked & cooled : coconut flakes, puffed quinoa, chopped dates, chopped (unsulphered) apricots, dehydrated apple rings, buckwheat puffs, raisins, chopped nuts, chopped seeds.  

 

Method: 

Preheat oven to 140′ C

In a large bowl combine all ingredients with a wooden spoon or your hands. Massage the liquids and fruits into the oats and set aside for a few minutes for the oats to soak up the flavours and soften. 

On a baking tray, roll out a sheet of baking paper (I use a re-usable silicone baking sheet which is naturally non-stick ). Spoon out half the mixture, spread it around the sheet and flatten it down. I usually do this quite unevenly so it gives chunks and crunchy bits as well as larger, softer cookie-like bits. 

Put it in the oven and bake for 45 minutes and then pull it out and check on it. If its still very moist you can put it back in for 10 minute increments but check regularly (ovens tend to vary greatly so best to keep an eye on it first time!). If there are bits on the thinner side that are dry and crispy remove those before putting back in. The best way is to keep trying/tasting small bits until it is to your liking. I like it when it is like little oat cookie chunks / crumbles. You don’t want too much moisture left inside the chunks though as they won’t store for as long. 

Repeat with the remaining mixture until its all baked and broken into spoon size chunks. 

Once cooled you can add any additional extras as listed above or of your own liking and store in a big air tight jar. Can be stored in fridge or in a pantry and lasts around 1-2 weeks (but not in our house!!). 

Now watch it disappear … 

 

 

 

The Health + Beauty Benefits of Sea Vegetables

The Health + Beauty Benefits of Sea Vegetables

Seaweed may not be the first thing that springs to mind when you think of ‘delicious’ but anyone who loves a good Nori roll knows how amazing seaweed can taste. They are also an abundant source of health and beauty enhancing goodness. These little guys know the true meaning of green goodness.

“Sea plants contain ten to twenty times the minerals of land plants and an abundance of vitamins and other elements necessary for man’s metabolism, making them an excellent source for food and medicine. Certain ones actually remove radioactive and toxic metal wastes from the body.”

Paul Pitchford, Healing with Whole Foods.

Here are just some of the benefits they are known to offer… Cooling ; Blood and yin tonic that supports the stomach and kidney functions; Natural salty flavour; Soften hardened masses in the body; Detoxifying; Moisten dryness in the body; Transform phlegm; Lymphatic cleansers; Alkalise the blood; Beneficial to thyroid; Immune boosting; Beautifying effects on skin, bones, teeth and hair.

Sea vegetables are naturally abundant in minerals, vitaims, amino acids and especially calcium, iodine and iron.

It is a sad fact that our seas, like our air and soils, have become increasingly polluted and it has become difficult to find sea vegetables  that have grown in the crystal clean waters they once were.  However according to Rebecca Wood, author of Whole Foods Encyclopaedia,  lab analysis reports have consistently indicated that seaweed has tested zero for pesticides hydrocarbons, herbicides, and toxins which is reassuring.  She does recommend buying seaweeds from reputable, high quality, health food stores and companies to ensure best quality.

A few tips to introducing sea vegetables into your diet…

  • Best to add them gradually.
  • They are naturally salty so best to rinse first if your sensitive to salt.
  • Soak in fresh water for the minimum recommended time for each one (each one varies – see below) before using, to aid their digestibility.
  • Add them to favourite dishes and experiment with the flavour of the different types.
  • For storage best kept in dark, glass airtight jars in my cupboard.

Here are a few of the most common kinds of sea vegetables and how you can include them in your diet.

Dulse (Flakes are my fave!)

High in iodine and manganese as well as all the benefits mentioned above.

Preparation: I like that the flakes can used as they are and just added to dishes.

How to eat them: I aim to add a little sprinkle every second to third day to our dinner, unless it contains the other types. I use them in cooked egg dishes, sauces, roasts, stocks, homemade burgers, zucchini bread, vegetable dishes.

Hijiki + Arame

As well as the other benefits these are also an excellent source of calcium, iron and iodine. They help to normalise blood sugar level, aid in weight loss, soothe nerves and support hormone functions. They are also known for promoting growth of glossy hair, clear complexion and wrinkle free skin. These little guys are amazing!

Preparation:  Soak in clean water for around 15 mins until they expand to around twice the size. Sautéing them in oil aids the digestion and also helps reduce the fishy taste. Arame is a softer tasting of the two.

How to eat them: Chop and cook with grains, soups, sauces, vegetable dishes, potatoes, curries and stir fries.

Kombu and Kelp

These are a natural fungicide so can be highly effective in eradicating fungal and candida yeast overgrowths. They are also known to help relieve hormonal imbalances. They have a soothing affect on the lung and throat, relieving coughing and asthma. They dramatically increase the nutritional value of any food they are cooked with.

Preperation– To soften soak for 20-30 mins in warm water, then cook for 1-2 hours in water covered till soft. These are great to add to beans in cooking process to aid digestibility and break down their tough fibers. Means the beans are more easily digested and minus the gas!

How to eat them: Add to bean, meat, veg dishes, sauces, salads or pickles.

{Caution::  use sparingly or not at all during pregnancy or when you have loose watery stools and signs of coldness} 

Nori

You are probably most familiar with this due its popularity with nori rolls. It has the highest protein content and is most easily digested of the sea vegetables. It is rich in A, B1 and niacin and decreases cholesterol.

Preparation: Nori comes in sheets, no need for soaking.

How to eat it:  It can be used as is for sushi or cut into snack size pieces, or even crumbled over rice, salads, vegetable dishes or egg dishes.

Wakame

After hijiki this is the highest in calcium. It’s also  rich in niacin and thiamine and  promotes healthy hair and skin.

Preparation: Soak for 5 minutes. Drain and save the liquid for cooking.

How to eat it: Cut into lengths and and add to soups, salads, stews, veggie dishes and grains. Softens beans and the hard fibres of foods cooked with it. These sea beauties are so full of goodness and so versatile to use.

 

SO if you are completely new to sea vegetables I suggest you try one kind first and experiment with adding very small amounts to appropriate dishes, making sure to prepare (soak) it correctly first. I started with adding some dulse flakes  in my cooking because they are already prepared and can be quickly added in. I also now use each of the others as they all offer slightly varied benefits. Nori sheets are another easy starting point. You might be inspired to try the ones that promote clear complexion and shiny hair first!

Remember like all good things, moderation is key. They are high in iodine and other minerals so don’t go crazy and start eating them at every meal, every day. Start slow and build up to regular (daily) but still moderate consumption, especially for little bodies. According to Paul Pitchford, author of Healing with Whole Foods,  the correct dosage in dried state before soaking or cooking is 5-15 grams daily for adults. I use around a 1/4 of this for my small children.

So which will you try first?

For recipes and more ideas about how to incorporate these into your meals –  stay tuned.  

BTW- A little talk about mermaids and mermen can really assist some family members with giving it a try. Why are mermaids such amazing swimmers and always look so healthy and happy? They live on all the different kinds of seaweeds of course!  Although the seaweed is usually invisible by the time it makes it onto their plate in which case no discussion is required at all. 

Elisha x

Source: Paul Pitchford, Healing with Whole Foods; RebeccaWood, Whole Foods Encyclopaedia.

Dragon fruit

Dragon fruit

Dragon fruit

These exotic and stunning looking fruits are everywhere here in Asia. They have a red, outer skin that does resemble the scales/flames of a dragon.  When opened up, they reveal either a soft whitish grey or brilliant magenta flesh filled with tiny, black seeds. The seeds are similar to those of the kiwi fruit. While this fruit is quite stunning and exotic in it’s looks,  the flavour is slightly on bland side. Don’t be put off by that though, as they are full of goodness, very refreshing and well worth including in your diet. They just need to be paired up with the right friend to increase the flavour factor.

Health Benefits

  • high in vitamin C – especially the red flesh variety
  • help to discharge heavy metals and toxins from the body
  • have been used to help alleviate constipation
  • can assist with lung congestion
  • help prevent cancer-causing free radicals
  • good source of electrolytes for hydration

How to select 

Choose fruit that is firm and without large, darkened  bruise marks.

How to prepare

3 different ways

1)You can peel off and discard the skin

2) You can slice in half and scoop out the flesh or

3)  slice in quarters and peel the skin off as you do with oranges.

Uses: 

Fantastic in smoothies or homemade ice popsicles with stronger and sweeter tasting fruits such as banana and pineapple.

Chopped in fruit salads or can also be used in savoury salads due to it’s fairly neutral flavour.

 

The red ones also add stunning colour and  beauty to salads, drinks or dishes.