How to make muesli, granola, cereal… or whatever you want to call it!
Posted on 29 January 2012
When Jean eats a bowl of cereal from a standard pack of muesli, nearly half the pack is gone! He’s a hungry man! It’s expensive, contains hardly any of those cashews advertised so prominently on the label and often has a heap of sugar added too! So, a few years ago I decided to make our cereal weekly at home. Now, we really miss it when we are travelling and feel we don’t get a proper start to the day without it. More importantly, what Jean realised is that no matter how high-fiber/high-protein the store bought cereal was, it wouldn’t really keep him full for very long and he’d need a snack mid morning. With our own cereal he isn’t hungry until lunch time.
This way we can get all the proportions of nuts, seeds and fruit we want (no skimping!!) without any added sugar. It’s just so easy, so delicious and fills the house with incredible smells when it’s cooking.
I don’t measure anything and every week it changes… with the seasons but also for variety for our tastebuds and our health!
So, the way I see it, there are a few categories of ingredients:
1. Grains – we use whole rolled oats and sometimes quinoa but I’ve also seen people add buckwheat too
2. Seeds – we always use a mixture of flax, sunflower, sesame, poppy and pepitas but you could also add chia seeds for example
3. Nuts – we always use cashews because we just love them but also add whatever nuts are in season and abundant, like walnuts, almonds, macadamias, hazelnuts, pecans, pistachios, flaked coconut… whatever!
4. Dried fruit – the combination changes with our moods! Apricots, cranberries, dates, apples, raisins, figs, pears, goji berries, blueberries, strawberries… whatever!
5. Flavouring – cinnamon and honey are our regular additions but you could add any of the following in whatever combination you desire… maple syrup, brown sugar, raw cocoa, coconut oil, ginger, vanilla…
To make our cereal I simply put everything except the dried fruit in to a baking dish and mix it all up. How much, you ask? I really don’t know… just sprinkle each ingredient in until you think there is enough of the right proportions to suit your taste! It’ll work out every time… so don’t worry!
I then just bake it in the oven for between 30 and 60 minutes (depending on how much I have put in there) at 120degC (see UPDATE below). I stir it occasionally to make sure it doesn’t burn and to make sure all the muesli gets toasted. When it is done (golden brown), take it out of the oven, cut the dried fruit in to pieces and stir through the cereal.
So simple and so delicious! We never get sick of it! It’s crunchy, it’s full of flavour, it’s healthy, it’s not sickly sweet and it actually has a great amount of nuts and fruit in it!
We just store it in an airtight container on the bench and it stays fresh because we eat it pretty quickly. However, if you are keeping yours for a while you might want to put it in the fridge so the seeds and nuts don’t go rancid.
Every now and then we make it in to muesli bars so we can grab a quick energy snack:
To help you make sense of store bought cereal:
- Look at the ingredients list on the cereal boxes to see the amount of added sugar to store bought cereal… we aren’t just talking in fruit loops or coco pops by the way… even the ‘healthy’ options! As we wrote in our post Why we’ve decided to stop buying food from supermarkets ‘as far as our hormones and metabolism are concerned, there’s no difference between a bowl of unsweetened corn flakes and a bowl of table sugar.’
- Chemical colours and flavours are used to make all those ‘fruity’ flavours. Do you remember when we posted this video clip on our Facebook page? If you haven’t seen it, check it out! It’s all about how blueberries are faked in cereals, muffins, bagels and other food products. Why not just eat the real thing? With the real nutritional content? Artificial colouring and flavours have been linked to attention issues, diabetes, obesity, cancer, and more…
- Most store bought cereals are heavily processed – organic or not! To make the puffs, shapes, flakes, loops and pops the ingredients are processed through machinery at such high pressure and temperatures it destroys many valuable nutrients in grains, causes fragile oils to become rancid and makes certain proteins toxic. Then the manufacturers replace the vitamins lost with synthetic ones which they advertise on the packets to entice you! Why not get your nutrients, vitamins and minerals the way they come naturally in food?
- When you eat store bought cereal, you aren’t just denying yourself nutrients from real food but setting your body up for sugar cravings and the necessity to eat more to get your daily requirements. What you eat for breakfast will set you up for the rest of the day – your mood, your blood sugar and from what I have read, perhaps even how you sleep that night. As Jean found out, when you have a real breakfast including good fats and protein you won’t get cravings because you will be nourished and won’t be setting your blood sugar up for a crash later. We get ours by eating our cereal with raw full cream milk (lait cru in the top photo is French for raw milk!), homemade yoghurt or kefir (a great option for lactose intolerant people). Enough protein at every meal is important as your brain and body need amino acids to make natural antidepressants and stimulate the production of feel good chemicals in the body like serotonin… not to mention all the other functions that require protein!
I recently got asked ‘Don’t you think 225degC is a little too much? I think about the starch being transformed into acrylamide, which is causing cancer.’
I hadn’t thought about this actually and was really happy for the feedback. In Sweden recently there has been a big debate about it. Here is an article where you can read what they have learnt, but here are some summary points from the article:
Acrylamide is a well-established carcinogen and neurotoxin (causes nerve damage). A scientific group at the University of Stockholm, headed by Professor Margareta Törnqvist, found that acrylamide is formed during the heating of starch-rich foods to high temperatures. The main culprits are potato chips and French fries but other food groups which may contain low as well as high levels of acrylamide are fried bread products (such as doughnuts), breakfast cereals, fried potato products, biscuits, cookies and snacks, such as tortilla chips and popcorn.
So, I’ve started baking my cereal at a much lower temperature. According to Wikipedia, acrylamid may be formed at temperatures above 120degC so this is what I’m now using to be on the safe side.
Thanks again to our readers… you really help us make sense of things!