Dispelling nutrition myths, ranting, and occasionally, raving


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Granola: breakfast or dessert?

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I love granola. It’s part of most of my breakfasts. This despite the recent article in which dietitians decreed granola to be a dessert. Whatever. I love breakfast for supper and, apparently, dessert for breakfast. That being said, I do think that granola can be a part of a healthy breakfast just as it can be an rather unhealthy start to the day.

There are a couple of factors that come to play in making granola a part of a healthy breakfast. One is the sad fact that most commercially available granolas are just oats and sugar held together by fat. Homemade granola can be the same. It can also be loaded with healthy nuts and seeds. It all depends on what you put in it. The key is that you get to decide what goes into it. Of course, it’s still going to be calorically dense and probably will have a fair amount of sugar and/or fat in it, depending on the recipe.

This is where the second factor comes into play. It’s all about serving size. Rather than having a bowlful of granola you should be treating granola as a topping. Adding a bit of granola to a bowl of shredded wheat with some blueberries or sliced banana makes it taste a whole lot better and adds the protein, fibre, vitamins, and minerals from the nuts and seeds. Granola also adds a bit of crunch to a smoothie bowl or some fruit and yoghurt. I’ve even had roasted sweet potato topped with peanut butter, yogurt, and granola.

Granola can be a healthy choice. It’s all about how you treat it.

One of my current favourite granola recipes is a modified version of Angela Liddon’s recipe in her Oh She Glows cookbook.

Feel free to share your favourite granola recipes below or your favourite ways to include granola as a part of a nutritious breakfast.


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Recipe: Quinoa Pumpkin Pie Granola

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I shared a pumpkin granola recipe a couple of years ago. That one was kind of chewy. This one is nice and crunchy.

Ingredients: 

4 cups rolled oats

1/2 cup uncooked quinoa

1 cup pecan pieces

1/4 cup flax seeds

1 tsp ground cinnamon

1 tsp ground ginger

dash of ground nutmeg

1/4 cup melted virgin coconut oil

1/2 cup honey (or maple syrup)

1/4 cup pumpkin puree

1/2 – 1 cup raisins

Directions:

Preheat oven to 300F.

In a large bowl, mix together all of the dry ingredients (except for the raisins), then add the wet. Combine thoroughly. I find my hands are best for mixing so ditch the spoon if you want. Depending on your own size, you can spread on one large baking sheet or two smaller ones. Bake in middle of oven for about 45 minutes, stirring every ten minutes or so. Granola is done when it turns a nice golden brown. Remove from oven and stir in the raisins. Allow to cool then store in an airtight container.


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Pumpkin

Now that fall is in the air I have an urge to bake pumpkin treats. On the menu this weekend: pumpkin granola, pumpkin cinnamon buns, and pumpkin ricotta waffles (it’s a good thing I’m in the midst of marathon training!). Pumpkin puree is great as a substitute for fat in a recipe making it healthier and adding flavour. If these recipes turn out alright I’ll post them, along with photos, on here.

Pumpkin puree (not pie filling) can be easily purchased at the grocery store. If you’re feeling more ambitious, you can buy a pumpkin, roast, and puree the flesh. The seeds also make a great snack, full of fibre and iron.

1/3 of a cup of pumpkin puree has only 35 calories, 1 gram of fibre, 1 gram of protein, and 360 mcg of vitamin A.

Pumpkin Pie Granola

Ingredients:

2 1/4 cups old fashioned rolled oats

1/2 tsp ground cinnamon

1/2 tsp ground ginger

1/4 tsp all-spice

1/4 tsp nutmeg

1/2 cup pumpkin puree

1/2 cup hot water

1/3 cup honey

3 Tbsp extra-virgin olive oil (divided)

3 Tbsp golden brown sugar (divided)

1/2 cup coarsely chopped pecans

1/2 cup pumpkin seeds

1/3 cup raisins

Directions:

Preheat oven to 300C.

Mix together oats, spices, pumpkin, and hot water in a medium bowl. Set aside for 15 minutes. While oats are soaking, in a small saucepan bring 2 Tbsp of olive oil, 2 honey, and 2 Tbsp of brown sugar to a boil. Mix into oat mixture. Spread on a large baking sheet. Bake in oven for 40-60 minutes, stirring occasionally, until desired crispness is reached. Remove from oven to cool and turn oven temperature up to 350C.

In a 8×8 (or so) baking dish, mix together the pecans, pumpkin seeds, and remaining Tbsps of olive oil and sugar. Cook in oven until lightly toasted, about 10 minutes.

Mix oats, nuts, and raisins together. Once cooled, enjoy with yoghurt and fruit.

(Adapted from Bon Appetit’s Surfer’s Granola)

Pumpkin Cinnamon Buns

Ingredients:

3 cups of flour

1/2 cup of white sugar

1/2 tsp salt

5 tsp baking powder

1/2 cup butter

2 eggs

1/2 cup low-fat milk

1/4 cup pumpkin puree

Filling:

1/8 cup butter, melted

1/4 cup brown sugar

1/4 cup white sugar

2 Tbsp pumpkin puree

2 tsp cinnamon

1/4 tsp all-spice

1/4 tsp nutmeg

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350C. In a large mixing bowl combine dry ingredients. Using a pastry blender or a couple of knives, cut in the butter until it resembles small peas. Combine milk, eggs, and pumpkin and then mix into dry ingredients. Roll dough into a large rectangle. Mix melted butter and pumpkin puree together and then spread onto dough. Sprinkle generously with sugar and spice mixture. Roll-up from short-side of rectangle and cut into ~1-inch thick buns. Bake on an ungreased cookie sheet for about 25 minutes (or until risen and golden).

Pumpkin Ricotta Waffles

Ingredients:

1 3/4 cups of flour

2 tsp baking powder

1 Tbsp white sugar

1/2 tsp baking soda

1/2 tsp salt

1 1/2 cups buttermilk

1/2 cup ricotta cheese

2 Tbsp pumpkin puree

2 large eggs

2 Tbsp butter, melted

Directions:

Mix dry ingredients together in a medium-large mixing bowl. Combine wet ingredients and gently mix into dry. Scoop by heaping 1/2 cup measures onto a preheated waffle iron. Cook until desired crispness is reached. Serve with desired toppings. I used Greek yoghurt mixed with pumpkin puree and maple syrup, as well as toasted pecans, and apple compote.

(Recipe adapted from: Jennie’s Kitchen)