I’ve always been a huge fan of breakfast. Not one to shy away from a hearty feed as soon as my feet hit the floor, once my eyelids are more open than closed I’m beating a hasty path to the pantry. My breakfast of choice changes from time to time, but ultimately I’m a creature of habit. I’ve been obsessed with porridge for months now. I love making it with a half-half mix of milk and water and sweetened with a touch of honey. I up the nutritional stakes by adding a tablespoon of flaxseed oil to get my omega-3 fix for the day. It adds the most divinely nutty, creamy background flavor which I find it hard to do without.
My love of breakfast goes back a long way. I think it originally comes from my Mum’s weekly habit of giving us a ‘treat’ for dinner which equated to her taking a load off one night a week and making us think we were getting a pretty sweet deal by skipping vegetables for the night and eating muesli instead. It was quite the deluxe incarnation though. She would layer muesli in a glass with yoghurt and banana which somehow seemed indulgent to my sister and I.
With a huge array of nutritious grains, cereals, fruit, nuts and seeds on the market these days it’s possible to pack a significant nutritional punch into the first meal of the day. Making your own muesli at home is a very satisfying thing indeed. Not only can you control exactly what goes into your mix, pandering to your every whim and fancy, but you can also avoid all the nasties which you’ll habitually find in store-bought versions.
I like a muesli which is not too heavy on the cereals, one that has a good ratio of grains to other goodies such as nuts, fruit and seeds. My version incorporates everything I love in the flavour department while keeping in mind my goal of making it as nutritious as possible. I believe I’ve succeeded with this most divine of mixes. Puffed millet and oats provide the cereal backbone while chia seeds, goji berries, dates, almonds, brazil nuts, sunflower seeds and pumpkin seeds give it some serious nutritional clout. It’s free of refined sugar and everything is incorporated in its raw form so you are getting the most nutrients possible. It’s seriously delicious…I have to stop myself from having multiple breakfasts in one day.
In a recent trip to Sydney I tried the most divine example of vanilla pear jam. I decided to do some poached pears to top my cereal with so this quick and easy cook-up is inspired by the lovely folk at Fleetwood Macchiato. Take my word for it when I say this is an invigorating, healthy way to start the day. Serve a bowl of my delicious muesli with your choice of milk (I prefer almond or rice) topped with a generous dollop of natural yoghurt and a spoonful of vanilla poached pears. My work here is done.
As an aside…take a look at the bottom of this post, after the recipes, to find out about some of the goodness this muesli contains.
THE BEST HOMEMADE MUESLI…EVER
INGREDIENTS (makes approximately 8 cups)
2 cups rolled oats (gluten-free if necessary)
2 cups puffed millet
1/2 cup chia seeds
1/2 cup shredded coconut
1 tbsp cinnamon
1/2 cup LSA (ground linseeds, sunflower seeds and almonds)
1 cup dates – roughly chopped
1 cup goji berries
1/3 cup flaked almonds
1/4 cup sunflower seeds
1/4 cup pumpkin seeds
1/4 cup brazil nuts – roughly chopped
1. Combine all ingredients in a large bowl and turn over a few times with a large spoon until well combined.
2. Store in an airtight container until ready to use. The muesli will keep well for at least a month.
VANILLA POACHED PEARS WITH MANUKA HONEY
4 ripe but firm pears (about 300gm once cored and peeled)
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 tbsp manuka honey (or other well flavoured, good quality honey)
1 cup water
1. Peel and core the pears then cut lengthwise into slices approximately 5mm thick.
2. Add to a medium saucepan along with the vanilla, honey and water and bring to a gentle simmer.
3. Cook for 15 minutes until the pears are tender but not collapsing. Remove the pears with a slotted spoon, leaving behind as much of the liquid as possible and set aside in a bowl.
4. Gently simmer the remaining liquid for a further 10 minutes until it has reduced by half. You should be left with about 4 tablespoons of liquid.
5. Pour the reduced liquid over the pears, leave to cool completely, then cover and store in the refrigerator until ready to use. The pears will keep for 2-3 days in the fridge.
NUTRITIONAL INFORMATION – HOMEMADE MUESLI
This is by no means an exhaustive list of nutritional content but does introduce some of the key nutrients that can be found in these ingredients.
CHIA SEEDS – high dietary fibre aids digestion; omega-3 fatty acids (good for your brain); high levels of calcium and manganese (good for your bones); phosphorus (helps with cell and tissue repair); high protein; helps to stabilize blood sugar; can help regulate appetite and sleep and can also aid in lowering cholesterol.
PUMPKIN SEEDS – magnesium (heart health); zinc (immune support).
SUNFLOWER SEEDS – selenium (cell damage control); vitamin E; magnesium; copper (vital for healthy bones).
BRAZIL NUTS – monounsaturated fatty acids (help to lower ‘bad’ and increase ‘good’ cholesterol in the blood); vitamin E (great for skin); selenium.
GOJI BERRIES – packed with antioxidants; can help with eye health; protein; vitamin C; iron.
DATES – high soluble fibre (regulation of digestion processes); packed with minerals.
PUFFED MILLET – gluten-free and easy to digest; rich in B-vitamins and minerals.
OATS – good source of dietary fibre; slow release energy (regulation of blood sugars).
CINNAMON – high in antioxidants; helps with blood circulation and removal of impurities.
LSA – rich source of protein; omega-3 fatty acids; helps with bone, skin and liver health.