Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Healthy: Nutty Amaranth Granola with Fresh Berries

Nutty Amaranth Granola (02) by MeetaK

When people get to know me a little longer than just the initial first meeting, they almost always ask how I manage to lead a healthy lifestyle - for me and my family. I cannot help but smirk at this. The thing is, I do not really think of me as an overly healthy type of person.

I watch what I eat, sure, but I do indulge in my little sins too. The friends are always surprised that even Tom and Soeren both seem to enjoy this "healthy" lifestyle.

For me the most important thing is getting the right balance. We watch what we eat and where we get our produce and products from, but we do not overdo it in any way. All three of us love sports by nature and we all have our fitness and sports routine that we do during the week. The weekends are reserved for the family and depending on how we are feeling we will laze around the house or go for a two hour walk, play board games at home or go swimming at the pool.

Even in terms of food we make sure we have a balance. So, we eat a lot of raw vegetables as snacks throughout the day. I make sure we all get our portion of fruits and grains during mealtimes, but we also enjoy indulging in scrumptious desserts, pizza, pasta and co. However, here too I use fresh products and watch what goes into these type of dishes.

Soeren has grown up with this attitude and being a foodie's son he has no inhibitions where food is concerned. From the very beginning I have made sure that he has enough contact with "good" food and we have discussed the difference between "good" and "bad" food. Remember, Soeren is 5 years old and scaling it down to "good" and "bad" is just an imagery we use. On the whole he knows there really is no "bad" food - it only then becomes "bad" when he chooses to eat monotonously. We give him options - if he is craving a burger and fries then we give him two options: burgers at home with lean meat lots of fresh salad and baked homemade fries or if he really wants to go to the fast food joint, then the fruit packet instead of fries. The burger joint around the corner almost always looses because as his tastebuds have developed he realizes that the burger at McMum's always tastes better.

This method always works. Forbidding is not something we like to do - we always try to give options for him to choose. Now at the age of 5, I am seeing Soeren make these types of healthier choices on his own.

The fact is we do not find it difficult to eat "good" food. All three of us simply enjoy eating a lot of fresh fruit, vegetables, fish and grains a lot more than fatty, processed foods. It does not mean we do not eat such foods, it just means that they are not the main part of our meal plans. 

So, when a friend asks me what I do at home to get my men to eat healthy, I just say I cook "normal" food. I then realized that what might be normal to me was by no means normal for her. She too has a son, four years old and is extremely overweight for his age. We only meet when we bring our kids to the playground, so, I do not know her that well. One afternoon, after Soeren politely declined a candy bar in favor of his pears, I dared to talk to her about the eating habits at her home. Her little boy would get a sausage (Wiener) for almost every meal. They ate a lot of processed sausages and ready-made products. In her positive attempts to get her family to eat healthier she was making all the wrong choices. Sweetened yogurts and ready made sauces, fruit drinks and sweet cereals. She would go for canned vegetables instead of fresh or even frozen vegetables.

She turned to me with a pleading look for help. It is difficult to advice someone when you are not a professional, it is also difficult to explain that, starting now is certainly not too late, but she would experience some fall-out from her husband and son, which might make her path a little more difficult. She just had to hang in there.

I told her to substitute the sweetened yogurt with natural, unsweetened and low-fat yogurt. For flavors she could make fresh fruit purées and add them to the yogurt. Instead of ready-made sauces she could make her own, using fresh products and without the preservatives. Giving her son fruit juices made of 100% fruit and diluting it with water, instead of sweetened fruit drinks was a more sensible choice. And, for heaven sakes, no sweetened cereals from a box. Make your own granola.

You know what she said to me? "Oh my god! I did not realize it was so much work to eat healthy!!" My jaw dropped at that remark. True making a fresh fruit purée is a bit more work than simply placing a six pack of artificially flavored, full of sugar and totally-bad-for-teeth yogurt in the shopping cart. The same applies to the granola - all that hard work - it's easier to simply grab the carton of sugared flakes, right?

I made a date with her the next day to come over when the kids were at school/nursery. I wanted to show her something. When she arrived we headed straight for the kitchen and I showed her how to make our favorite granola - in 20 minutes flat!

Granola is a very vital product for us. I do not think we could really get through the day without it. I make granola often and honestly I cannot believe in the two years I have been blogging I have not shared one of my recipes with you. To make up for that I will share my favorite type, the same granola I made for my friend that day. After she tried it, it was her jaw that dropped.

Besides the traditional rolled oats, I mix in organic popped Amaranth seeds and spelt flakes for added texture and nutrition. Extra crunchiness comes from the variety of nuts - I love hazelnuts, almonds and cashews. These are all drizzled with high quality organic maple syrup and sprinkled with cinnamon. The result, an unbeatable crunchy granola that tastes so good you simply forget you are eating "healthy" food! ;-) For a perfect breakfast we love adding fresh berries and a dollop of natural yogurt. Luxury pure!


Reminders!

Monthly Mingle - One-Dish Dinners
Come on over with your casseroles, crockpots or baked dishes. I am looking for innovative and creative one-dish meals. Looking forward to having you all over.
Deadline: March 10th, 2008

Eat Fresh
Share your fresh produce with us. Show us your weekly bounty from the Farmer's Market, grocery stores or CSA box.
Deadline: March 31st, 2008

* Eat Fresh Update
Our Eat Fresh list is growing - slowly. Vincci of Ceci n'est pas un food blog in Quebec joined the Organic Campus and gets lovely apples, carrots, turnips, beets and Jerusalem artichokes. You just have to check out her organic Eat Fresh basket. Vincci also shares a lovely recipe for a carrot and cinnamon bread!


Ingredients
Printable version of recipe here.

Nutty Amaranth Granola (03) by MeetaK

For Nutty Granola

150g rolled oats
150g spelt flakes
4-5 tablespoons amaranth seeds - popped
100g whole hazelnuts
50g whole almonds
50g whole cashews
3 teaspoons cinnamon powder
5 tablespoons good quality maple syrup
4 tablespoons oil

For Breakfast Granola with Berries

150g mix of dried cranberries and cherries
Handful fresh berries - strawberries, blueberries, raspberries all taste extraordinary in this.
Couple of tablespoons natural unsweetened yogurt
Fresh milk


Method

Nutty Amaranth Granola (06) by MeetaK


For Nutty Granola

Preheat the oven to 165 degrees C. Line a baking tray with some baking paper.

In a large mixing bowl add all of the ingredients together and mix well. Spread the granola evenly onto the baking tray and bake for 20 minutes. After 10 minutes give it a good stir.

The granola should be golden brown and crispy and the nuts crunchy.

Take out of oven and allow to cool completely before adding the dried fruit. Once cooled you can store the granola in airtight containers for several months.

For Breakfast Granola with Berries

Add the cranberries and cherries to the granola and mix with your hands. Spoon a few tablespoons into a serving bowl, top with chopped strawberries, raspberries and blueberries. Add a dollop of fresh yogurt and pour in milk as desired.


Verdict

Nutty Amaranth Granola (04) by MeetaK

The nutty granola is our basic granola recipe. Once this is ready we like to vary by throwing in flax, sunflower or pumpkin seeds or use other dried fruit likes figs, dates, apricots. Tom likes adding grated coconut and Soeren a few chocolate chips. Fresh fruit like bananas, pears, apples, mangoes and papayas are also great additions to the Breakfast Granola. The granola also tastes spectacular when added to a basic muffin dough. There are ample uses for this great recipe and once you make it, there will be no going back to the store bought stuff. The lovely cinnamony aroma that lingers in the air each time you open the container will simply make you crave for more. 

As for my friend - she was amazed that good granola takes so little time and tastes so good. However I think she will go back to the store-bought stuff. I believe she will get resistance from her family and that she herself is more of a comfortable type person who finds it easier to grab the products from a shelf in a supermarket, instead of making them at home. Shame - but at least she can indulge in a luxurious granola breakfast for a few weeks. I gave her the whole load we made that day as a little present. You never know - she might just change her mind!

You might enjoy these luxury breakfast ideas:  

BagelFilled02 Garlic Shrimp & Eggs on Toasted Bagels
DSC_0082a Buttermilk & Ricotta Pancakes
BlueberryPancakes03 Blueberry Buttermilk Pancakes
CranberryGingerChutney2 Cranberry Ginger Chutney

More great granola recipes from other blogs:

Crunchy Granola from One Hot Stove
Dried Fruit Granola from 80 Breakfasts
Uncle Austin's Granola from Homesick Texan
The best Granola from 64 sq ft Kitchen
Fantastanola Granola Jumbo Empanadas

Suganya at Tasty Palettes is hosting this month's Weekend Breakfast Blogging, which was started by my dear friend Nandita of Saffron Trail. Suganya has chosen a very appropriate theme of Healthy Eats. I hope she enjoys this healthy eat!



All photographs and written content on What's For Lunch, Honey? © 2006-2008 Meeta Khurana unless otherwise indicated. | All rights reserved | Please Ask First

27 comments :

  1. Love granola! Yeah, it's funny how much people differ... So much of the time, people would rather take the path of convenience at the expense of their own health. Great educational and delicious post! :)

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  2. Hey, mostly I am fine with the english words for foods, but I am always troubled by the english terms for grains. Could you maybe (just this once) give an ingredients list in German?

    Oh, and I am commenting here the first time. I really like your site and the photos ;)

    Paula.

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  3. I just made granola for the very first time a couple of weekends back, and I loved it. My mom used to make granola when we were little and I have fond memories of that cinnamony smell permeating throughout the house. I'm looking forward to trying your recipe and incorporating some new grains into my/our diet!

    As a side note, I also have a hard time accepting that not everyone wants to make the time to make the effort for themselves and their families, on the food front. I hear a lot of, "Oh, if there are more then 5 ingredients, I won't make it." It almost seems as if fancy food has become synonymous for food made from scratch. Keep up the good work, the more we support and educate each other, the better our futures will be!

    mari.

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  4. that was a great writeup Meeta! nice to know you are guiding your family in the right path! the granola looks great:)

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  5. Now its her time for a jaw drop. I hope yr friend got the most from this experience. If eating healthy is a 'life style', it doesn't feel like a lot work. But it takes time to get there. Good luck to your friend. Goji berries add colour and flavour to granolas. Meeta, I love the wood tones you have used. Goes well with granola. Well, That is the idea, isn't? :). Thank you for your beautiful entry.

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  6. I am the same as you - I try to eat balanced, but never deprive myself of something. We usually only "splurge" on the weekends, but try to eat fairly healthy through the week.

    This granola sounds delicious!

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  7. Amen! Amen! Amen! After moving to Peru, I have found a healthier, more balanced lifestyle and learned that I can make things like juice, granola, sauces and baked goods from "real" ingredients! I love that you tried to share with her even up to having her over to teach her. It is amazing how much better one feels when living a healthy, balanced lifestyle.

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  8. Wow!!!excellent write up lady!!!very much informative post..Thsk for sharing

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  9. **cough cough** i hate eating healthy. can you send me a load of granola too? maybe i'll change my mind.

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  10. that looks lovely - I have just posted a granola (or muesli) recipe which you can do in the microwave - possibly a little faster but not a lot. I am curous about amaranth which I haven't used - does it add to the taste much?

    I find it strange some times when people just find cooking too hard but I guess it is different when I enjoy it. It is sad when it affects the kids, but I hope your friend learnt something from your chat.

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  11. While your granola looks wonderful to me, we need to be mostly nut free in our household. What recipe do you use for a non-nut granola (though almonds are okay, just not the rest of them.)

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  12. hmmm...i always wonder why people think that eating healthy is difficult!! perfect recipe for WBB - Healthy Eats. Hope you got my entry for One Dish Dinners..

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  13. Balance is definitely key, when it comes to living a healthy, enjoyable life - glad to read that you're living in balance! :0)

    Mmmm, that granola looks and sounds so hearty, satiating, and scrumptious! Yum!

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  14. Yummm. I love granola, but hate buying it at the store because it's always filled with so much sugar/carbs/fat. I made peanut butter granola bars, which were fabulous...but this granola looks amazing! Thanks :)

    Sues

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  15. I'm thrilled to find a home made granola using spelt. This will likely become a staple in my cupboard. Thanks for posting it.

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  16. This dish luks great and nice write up too..

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  17. Thoughtful post, Meeta. It takes mere minutes to make most of these healthful foods at home; less time than it takes to worry about how long it will take :)
    Amaranth seeds are an ingredient that I have yet to explore. Your granola looks exquisite!

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  18. Glad you all are sharing my sentiments. Eating healthy is by no means tedious or time consuming.

    Jokerine - here is the list in German:
    150g kernige haferflocken
    150g dinkel flocken
    4-5 EL amaranth kerne Alnatura
    100g ganze hazelnüsse
    50g ganze mandeln
    50g ganze cashewkerne
    3 tl zimt pulver
    5 EL Ahornsyrup
    4 EL öl
    I think the rest you can work out. If not let me know. I get almost all of my grains, honey etc. from Alnatura. You can get the products in Teegut or at DM if you are in Germany.

    Quellia - If I ever make granola without nuts (which is rare because we love nuts) I then simply use a mixture of flakes. Besides the spelt, oats and amaranth, I add reis flakes and soya flakes. These are all available by a special organic manufacturer called Alnatura. It's all in German too. The rice and soya flakes add the crunch the nuts do and also offer a high nutritional value. I am not sure how you react to pine nuts - but I use those as an alternative too.

    Bee, oh you unhealthy girl - scrounging for granola!! Come over and I'll make you a big container full!

    The rest of you keep eating healthy!

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  19. And now my jaw is dropped!!! ;)
    Beautiful!!

    McMum's!! That was a good one. :)

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  20. Meeta, what a great post - it reminds of my mom.
    She was a great baker and would make delicious cakes for us (chocolate and carrot cakes were my favorites) but she also made sure I'd eat my veggies and salads, rice, beans. Lots of fresh fruit, too. There was balance, as you say, and I think that was the secret! :)
    I never understood, as a kid, why my colleagues didn't like salads and veggies - those were pretty normal to me. :)

    I have never tried making granola - don't ask me why, I don't know, really!
    This would be a wonderful recipe to start with. I think I'll add a handful of dried cranberries to mine. :)

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  21. mc mum's was hilarious!! and so true...with a mom that turns out food like the way you do...its no wonder that soeren makes the choices he does!! but like you said with consumerism hitting us the way it is...work and travel and all that jazz...i feel families are losing focus on what is most important.... family and health...i had someone say this to me a while ago....with shock..."so you cook everyday?? arent you bored?" i replied that i was terrified at the options that stared at me if i didnt.....!!

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  22. I'm not a huge breakfast person, but that looks like a great way to start the day.

    I also like the way you've taught Soeren good eating habits. Its funny, I don't consider myself necessarily a healthy eater, but when I changed my ways and started cooking everything, I became a lot healthier and lost about 30+ lbs just from changing my eating habits (and really, you've seen my site--I'm still eating a rich dessert a week, so that says something!). It becomes a lifestyle, not a diet or some quick fix thing, and its funny--when you try to explain it to people, the reaction is just like you said: so much work! So many ingredients! etc. People don't seem to appreciate that they pay a premium for convenience in money and their health.

    But anyways, I could go on and on, so I'm going to wind down and stop writing. ;-) I'm preaching to the choir.

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  23. Patricia, that is exactly the way i grew up. Now as I am a mother I am doing the same I learned from my mother. I think eating healthy is not about a fad it IS a lifestyle - only then one does not feel it is tedious. What people do not understand with just a tiny bit of effort everyone can jump in.

    Arundati, while I do not cook every single day I really appreciate the people who do so. It is often very tempting to fall in the trap of convenience and fast food but it is a dangerous place to go.

    Mike - I love your sentiments and your thoughts are very much like my own. No diets and no fads just a balance of good honest homemade meals. It helped me to loose all the extra pounds after I had Soeren and with a bit a nice fitness routine life looks and FEELS grand. Like you said if these things are a part of your lifestyle you do not feel like you are being healthy you just do it because it is normal!

    Love all your comments on thoughts on this. Keep em coming!

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  24. We love granola and this recipe looks worth a try. My children is crazy over little containers full of granola in their lunchboxes.

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  25. What a nice post. Your photos are just beautiful and make me hungry (every one of them)!

    Your friend is very lucky to have met you! I used to be the one that tried to feed my kids "healthy" but being the average American... really fell short. When they were 8 & 12, I became very ill, changed to a VERY healthy diet of whole grains, beans, vegetables, fruit and... got better.

    I gradually changed their diets and today at 17 & 21 they would also choose a pear over a chocolate bar 9 out of 10 times. It was time consuming at first (compared to processed food), but anything new takes more time and then becomes routine. The pay-off is BIG... they are never sick and they don't have to worry about their weight or skin.

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  26. Lovely intro write up sweetie...and I have never made granola - and i wonder if i have eaten it either! Will surely try this out - may have to substitute some of the nuts with whats locally available...
    Hugs

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Thank you for visiting What's For Lunch, Honey? and taking time to browse through my recipes, listen to my ramblings and enjoy my photographs. I appreciate all your comments, feedback and input. I will answer your questions to my best knowledge and respond to your comments as soon as possible.

In the meantime I hope you enjoy your stay here and that I was able to make this an experience for your senses.

Hugs
Meeta