Make a classic breakfast well. Natural sweetness meets rich texture in our favorite house granola.
By Jon Janaka
Yogis and doctors agree: breakfast is the most important meal of the day. It is literally the breaking of the fast we have observed overnight. By morning the body is ready for nourishment—and if we skip or skimp on it, both our emotions and our appetites can run rampant. In the language of ayurveda, skipping breakfast disturbs sadhaka pitta, a subtle energy that governs the emotions, filling us with joy and contentment when it’s in balance, or impatience and irritability when it’s not. On a physical level, a neglected digestive fire (jathar agni) creates an acidic imbalance in the stomach and tempts us to overeat later on. So start your day off right with a breakfast that will ground and center you: healthy homemade granola.
The primary ingredient in this recipe is rolled oats. Studies show that the soluble fiber component of oats (beta-glucan) reduces cholesterol absorption (lowering the risk of heart disease), enhances immunity, and helps to stabilize blood sugar levels.
In addition, this recipe provides protein, complex carbohydrates, essential fats (in the form of nuts, seeds, and vegetable oils), and relatively unrefined sugars in the form of maple and barley malt syrup (available at your local health food store). The barley malt syrup provides a slightly sweeter, more robust flavor and helps the granola form into clusters. You can make this nutritious recipe in about an hour and enjoy it all week long.
Yield: 8 cups
4 cups rolled oats
1/2 cup shredded coconut
2 tablespoons wheat or spelt flour
1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
1 cup seeds (flax, sunflower, pumpkin, or sesame)
1 cup chopped nuts (almonds, walnuts, cashews, or pecans)
1/4 cup warmed ghee (clarified butter) or vegetable oil
1/4 cup light sesame oil
1/4 cup barley malt syrup
1/2 cup maple syrup
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
Chopped dried fruits (apricots, raisins, currants, apples, or dates)
1. Preheat the oven to 325 degrees.
2. Combine the oats, coconut, flour, and cinnamon in a large bowl.
3. Stir in the wet ingredients, making sure all the dry ingredients are evenly coated.
4. Spoon the mixture onto a large baking pan or cookie sheet. Lightly coat the pan with oil or use parchment paper to prevent the granola from sticking. Bake at 325 degrees for 10 to 15 minutes, or until the top is lightly browned.
5. Remove the pan from the oven and turn the granola to make sure it bakes evenly. Bake an additional 10 to 15 minutes until the granola is uniformly browned, turning as necessary.
6. Add the nuts and seeds and bake for 5 to 10 more minutes. (Note: Nuts and seeds can turn bitter if overcooked, so keep a close eye on the granola at this stage.) Then remove from the oven and let it cool to room temperature.
7. To form larger clusters, mound the granola up on the pan before it cools. For a crumbly texture, spread the granola out as thinly as possible.
8. Add some dried fruit if you like, and store in an airtight container. Serve with milk, yogurt, or by itself for a nutritious breakfast…or anytime snack.
Add 1 tablespoon anise seed, 1/2 teaspoon orange oil, and/or 1/2 teaspoon lemon oil to vary the flavor. For a gluten-free version, substitute equal parts maple syrup for barley malt syrup; use rice or garbanzo bean flour instead of wheat or spelt flour; and buy oats that are labeled “gluten-free.”
Watch the author make some delicious dishes on our cooking show.
Jon Janaka worked in the Himalayan Institute kitchen for over five years.
Photo by Jagati