Apple Purée, Cinnamon & Nut Granola

IMG_0377 adjusted 2

Homemade granola trumps shop-bought granola in every single possible way. The taste, the crunch, the nuttiness. You can throw in whatever you like and it isn’t stuffed with refined sugar or synthetic honey or palm oil or preservatives such as sulphur dioxide. In the past when I took a bite of Tesco own granola or even brands such as Jordan’s or Dorset Cereals, I was always overwhelmed by how sugary it tasted. You can literally feel the granules of sugar melting on your tongue, going all over your teeth and straight down into your body. Which is really not good in any way.

I was trying to think up a new granola recipe with a seasonal element and my mind immediately jumped to apples, since they’re in season and full of their own subtle fruity sweetness. I love having stewed apple for pudding so I thought why not try baking it with oats and see what happens. The result is super and makes a delicious, fruity, crunchy yet squishy granola which I think you’re all going to love. It’s so easy to throw together (despite what looks like a long ingredient list!) and if you haven’t got the time to peel, core, chop and stew some apples then you can simply use apple sauce. And, even better, it’s probably one of the healthiest and most nutrient dense granolas out there.

Untitled-1

As well as oats (an excellent source of fibre and slow-burning energy) and apple, it’s brimming with pecans, almonds and walnuts, all of which give a great protein boost for first thing in the morning, as well as minerals such as iron and magnesium. On top of that, the pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds and flaxseeds not only enhance the protein content of the granola further but are a great source of the really good, healthy fats omega 3 and omega 6 which our bodies need and love. The cinnamon gives that yummy hint of spice which is the perfect partner for apple and the blackstrap molasses add a further fruity flavour and a little bit of extra sweetness. Blackstrap molasses is actually the by-product of the process of making refined sugar from the sugar cane plant and consequently contains all of the vitamins and minerals which white sugar lacks. It’s highly nutritious, containing healthy amounts of copper, iron, calcium and magnesium. It’s so great for vegetarians and vegans who often have trouble getting iron into their diet (I certainly do), but the combination of blackstrap with the nuts, seeds and currants makes this granola an iron-filled feast.

IMG_0300 smaller adjusted

Makes two large containers of granola:

  • 2 large cooking apples (or 3 medium sized) or 450g/1½ cups of apple sauce
  • ⅓ cup of water
  • 1 cup of rolled oats
  • 1 cup of jumbo oats
  • ½ cup of walnuts
  • ½ cup of pecans
  • ½ cup of almonds
  • ½ cup of pumpkin seeds
  • ½ cup of sunflower seeds
  • ⅓ cup of flaxseeds
  • ⅓ cup of flaked almonds
  • 3 teaspoons of cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon of mixed spice
  • 1 teaspoon of ground ginger
  • 3 tablespoons of coconut oil
  • 4 tablespoons of sunflower oil
  • 3 tablespoons of blackstrap molasses
  • ½ cup of currants or raisins
  • 2 tablespoons of yacon syrup/raw honey/maple syrup (optional – for sweeter tooths)

IMG_0369 adjusted 2

Preheat your oven to 175°C. If making the apple purée from scratch, peel, core and slice the apples into small sized chunks and place in a fairly large saucepan along with the water. Put this on the hob at a medium heat, watching it until the water starts to boil. At this point put the lid on and reduce to a low heat to allow the apples to stew for about 15-20 minutes, checking them every five minutes and giving them a quick stir.

While the apples are cooking, place the oats in a large mixing bowl. Add half the walnuts to a pestle and mortar and give them a good bash until they’ve broken up into small pieces. Pour them into the mixing bowl with the oats before breaking up the other half in the pestle and mortar. Do the same to the pecans and whole almonds, and then add the flaked almonds and all the seeds to the mix. Give it a stir around and then add the cinnamon, mixed spice and ginger before stirring once more.

When the apple has stewed down into a purée, add your 3 tablespoons of coconut oil and blackstrap molasses so they melt nicely down into it too, giving it a stir so it’s all mixed well. Remove from the heat, allow to cool for a minute or two before pouring it into the granola mixture along with the 4 tablespoons of sunflower oil and the currants. Using a large spoon, stir the whole mixture up so all the oats, nuts and seeds are well and coated with the apple, oil and blackstrap (if you like your granola on the sweeter side add the yacon syrup, honey or maple syrup at this point too).

Line a large baking tray with a sheet of baking paper and then pour on the granola mix, spreading it evenly across and squashing down gently. Place this in the oven for about 45 minutes to an hour, depending on how brown and crispy you like it. Every 10 minutes or so take it out and give it a little stir to make sure it toasts evenly and none of it burns, and you get good sized nuggets of granola not one massive piece. When you’ve reached the desired crunchiness, remove from the oven, allow to cool and then store in an airtight container so it stays crispy and fresh for days, weeks or even months (depending on how fast you gobble it down) to come.

Advertisements

Blackberry, Sunflower Seed & Chlorella Smoothie

IMG_5833 smaller adjusted

Blackberries are still in season in Britain, so I couldn’t resist creating another recipe with them. It’s amazing that they’ve been growing in hedges all round the countryside for almost a month and a half now, and whenever I go running with my loony little dog (happily named Bramble – sometimes I sneak her one of her namesakes) I always pause momentarily to pluck a few off.

Bramble 2  Bramble 1

There’s nothing better than freshly picked fruit and vegetables – honestly. They’re full of flavour and nutritional goodness, their vitamin and mineral content as potent and nourishing as can possibly be. Compare this to vegetables and fruit you buy in the supermarket, which are almost always at least five days old, probably flown in from a country on the other side of the world, and so their beneficial nutrients will have deteriorated and been lost – if you’re lucky you’ll be getting about 40% of available nutrients and 40% of what your body actually needs. So the more local, seasonal and fresh fruit and vegetables you can eat the better.

IMG_9535 smaller  IMG_9550 smaller

Smoothies are such a great way to wake up in the morning. They’re full of energy-giving goodness, and are so satisfying and delicious. Even better – they’re so easy to make, you just throw it all into a blender and you’re done, which is ideal for all of us who are on-the-go and need a quick brekky before we dash out of the door to start the day. A creamy smoothie is hard to beat, with the combination of banana, blackberries and cashew milk creating a thick, sweet consistency. However, by adding oat flakes, sunflower seeds and chlorella, this smoothie is given that extra health boost, making it a protein-filled superfood treat.

Chlorella really is one of the world’s most amazing foods – it’s a microscopic freshwater plant and is one of the most nutritionally dense foods in nature, containing key vitamins, macro-minerals, trace minerals, antioxidants, essential fatty acids, proteins, nuleic acids and much more. It is 58% protein which is so great for vegetarians and vegans – I have to make sure I get enough protein in my diet and stirring chlorella into water or whizzing it into a smoothie is one of the best ways. Chlorella is also packed with readily bio-available chlorophyll and is an alkaline food which counters the over-acidity of all the processed food stocked on supermarket shelves. It does have a slightly funny, grassy flavour which many people don’t like but mixed into this smoothie you can barely taste it – promise!

IMG_5828 smaller adjusted 2

Serves 1:

  • 1 small banana
  • ½ cup of blackberries (either frozen or fresh – I’ve got loads frozen from my last picking spree)
  • ½ cup of cashew milk (look out for a post on the easiest way to make your own nut milks soon!)
  • 2 tablespoons of oats (porridge or jumbo)
  • 1½ tablespoons of sunflower seeds
  • 1 teaspoon of chlorella

IMG_5835 adjusted smaller

Simply peel the banana then place all of the ingredients into a blender and blend until smooth. Then pour into a glass, pop in a straw if you like, and enjoy!