Breakfast is hands down my favorite meal of the day. Sure, pancakes, waffles, scrambled eggs, cereal (one food that kept me alive during my college years)…they are all worth getting out of bed for, but I'm talking specifically about the meal that's eaten to start your day regardless of what exactly you're eating (meaning eating a bowl of jjajangmyun is perfectly acceptable). There's just something about that first meal that gets my endorphins running.
As I may have mentioned before, I am totally a morning person and have succeeded in establishing an internal alarm clock that goes off at around 4:30 every morning. No worries! It's a personal choice ;). I leave my house anytime between 6:30-7:30, depending on my rotation, so that 2 hour window of alone time is very.very precious to me. Thus, I'm quite possessive of it. It is EXTREMELY rare, but in the event that the Hungryman gets up at this time, I try to force him back to sleep even if he doesn't utter a word. I thrive off of that complete solitude, and it sets the tone for the rest of my day. May he NEVER become a morning person (insert evil laughter).
Being the creature of habit that I am, here's a glimpse into one of my typical mornings... Upon waking, I let Kona out into the backyard, and I gulp down a HUGE glass of water (If Kona's lucky, I remember to let him back inside the house). I do my quiet time (reading Psalms and Colossians at the moment), work on blog stuff, catch up on emails, pack lunches for the both of us, and of course eat breakfast. Oh yea, and make myself pretty. Duh. 😉
I seem to go through phases when it comes to breakfast choices, meaning I eat the same thing for several days before moving onto something else. You may find this boring, but I find a lot of comfort in having this predictability day in and day out. It's not because I get sick of a certain option that I choose to move on (I could eat pb+banana toast everyday for the rest of my life!). Rather, I have to consciously remind myself that variety is good and necessary.
Granola delivers that variety while not deviating too much from the norm - I could eat it everyday as long as I switch up the components. That counts for variety, right? 😉
I'm no stranger to convenience items, but no matter how crazy my life may be with every second accounted for, I dare not consider purchasing sugar-laden, wayy over-priced prepackaged granola. In the time it'd take me to get dressed and head to the store and back for a bag, I would've been able to whip up a batch of wholesome, homemade granola to put in the oven. Not to mention the heavenly aroma that would fill the entire house. If someone would turn this into a candle scent, I would love you forever.
There are a couple of major lessons I've learned from my granola-cooking experiences:
1) Keep a watchful eye during the last few minutes of cooking. Every oven is different so be sure to take a peek at the progress. Once the color turns golden brown, remove immediately. I've burned many batches just going by the clock. Words cannot describe my disappointment when this happens.
2) Pay attention to the color not the softness/hardness of the texture. Granola should be soft (and not completely brown in color) when it comes out of the oven and will crisp as it cools. That's why it's super important to allow for it to cool completely. I used to bake my granola until it was completely crunchy...learn from my mistakes.
3) Have a well-stocked pantry so you can make a batch at the spur of the moment. While you can play around with all kinds of flavors, the basic ingredients should include: rolled oats, nuts, seeds, dried fruit, and spices. I keep my various nuts and seeds (usually sunflower and pumpkin) in the freezer.
This time, poking around in my pantry led to the creation of this strawberry coconut granola. I almost always end up adding some kind of dried fruit, but this was def a nice change of pace. It's the perfect snack and a wonderful accompaniment to yogurt and, of course, milk (hot or cold). As you may have guessed, I've been mixing in this crunchy, sweet (but not overly sweet), nutty granola to Greek yogurt for the past several days. I actually like to mix it in and wait..and wait some more until the granola softens and the yogurt thickens a bit. When I insisted the Hungryman try it my way, he said, "I'm a little bit scared." But with each bite, he seemed to appreciate the no-bake cheesecake-like consistency and flavor.
Store in an airtight container for up to a week. I just hope I have enough to last me that long...
- 2 cups old-fashioned rolled oats (200g)
- ½ cup ground flaxseed (50g)
- ¾ cup shredded unsweetened coconut (65g)
- 1 cup sliced almonds (100g)
- ½ teaspoon cinnamon
- a pinch of salt
- ¼ cup maple syrup or honey
- ¼ cup coconut oil
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1 cup freeze dried strawberries
- Preheat oven to 300° F. Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper. Set aside.
- In a large bowl, combine oats, flaxseed, coconut, almonds, and cinnamon. Stir to combine. In a small bowl, whisk together coconut oil, maple syrup, and vanilla. Pour over dry ingredients. Stir until well-coated.
- Pour the granola mixture onto the baking sheet. Spread into an even layer. Spread mixture evenly onto a baking sheet. Bake for 40-45 minutes or until granola is golden brown, stirring every 15 minutes.
- Allow to cool completely. Stir in the strawberries.