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…

Method

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!
So… please share your own muesli recipe with us!
   

UPDATE

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!

 


5 responses to How to make muesli, granola, cereal… or whatever you want to call it!

  • aoristus says:

    Very nice!
    It’s so easy there is no excuse for not making it. My sister had given me a recipe once, i am pretty sure she added a bit of sugar and honey to make it sweeter. I guess the sweetness can come from the dried fruit as well. I like mine to be a bit sweet!

    [Reply]

  • aoristus says:

    Also the photographs on the blog have improved…I mean they were always good but now they are great!

    And….yes…I missed point 5 of the recipe :p!

    [Reply]

    Making Sense of Things Reply:

    Thank you Aoristus! We have indeed been playing more with our photography 🙂

    [Reply]

  • I also do mine at low temperature — takes longer and is more like a muesli, rather than granola. But the other thing I do to add nutrition is to soak and sprout the buckwheat groats, and quinoa before I add the other stuff and yes I do keep the muesli in the fridge. I also add the chia after the oven part and also add hemp hearts. They really add proteins and omega fatty acids.

    [Reply]

    Making Sense of Things Reply:

    Yours sounds wonderful!! Thank you for sharing. We can’t get hemp hearts here unfortunately. We used to use buckwheat when we were in France but it’s not available here in Bolivia either. We should do an updated post actually because since we got the dehydrator we’ve been doing our granola in there. It’s so delicious! Lovely clusters of goodness without worrying about the high temperatures. Recently we did a batch with beetroot which looks pretty too! We like to sprout too 🙂 and we often add chia seeds, bee pollen and maca as we serve it up! There are so many different combinations it can never get boring 🙂

    [Reply]

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