Oats are not my favourite food. I associate their mushy texture and card-boardy taste with stodgy dishes like porridge, vegetarian loaves and other recipes adapted for cholesterol-fighting diets. In fact, many years ago I followed Terry on a cholesterol lowering program, which involved cooking dinner every night from the popular (at the time) 8-Week Cholesterol Cure Cookbook by R.E Kowalski. This combined with a massive amount of daily exercise brought significant health benefits, but did nothing to endear me to oatmeal!
I’ve always had a box or two on the boat though, as an inexpensive standby for when we run out of more palatable options for breakfast. Over the years, I found that with the help of a good dose of brown sugar, cream and cinnamon, porridge could indeed be delicious (not sure however Mr Kowalski would approve of all the trimmings). It wasn’t until my first born was diagnosed with food allergies and we decided to steer away from commercial cereals (amongst many other things!) that oatmeal made it back on the weekly grocery list.
The inspiration came from a post I found on the blog Chocolate and Zucchini (written by Parisian Clotilde Dusoulier, with whom I seem to share the same culinary tastes): Macadamia and Oat Granola. What is great about this recipe is its flexibility. I had to tweak with the amounts of macadamia nuts and mixed seeds, due to my son’s nut allergies, by substituting more grains (all bran, rice flakes,…) and coconut instead. I also add amaranth seeds (even quinoa sometimes ) for extra crunch. You can vary the flavours with different nuts (walnuts, pecans, cashews,…), different sweeteners (honey, golden syrup,…), different spices (vanilla, coriander, …), different fats (coconut oil is great if you’re off the dairy). And for a fruity version, add any dried fruits you like ( sultanas, dried pineapple, dried apricots,…) However you make it, the result is just as satisfying. In fact, served with a generous dollop of plain yoghurt and fresh fruit, it has become a favourite breakfast on the boat.
Macadamia & Oat Granola
Adapted from Chocolate and Zucchini.
2 tablespoons butter
6 tablespoons maple syrup
2 cups traditional rolled oats, not quick oats (or any grains of your choice)
½ teaspoon fine sea salt
2/3 cup dessicated coconut ( shredded, flakes or fine, up to you)
1/3 cup amaranth seeds
½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
2/3 cup macadamia nuts roughly chopped ( or any nuts of your choice)
1/3 cup seed mix (sunflower seeds & pepitas)
Preheat oven to 180C. Line a baking tray with non stick baking paper.
Combine maple syrup and butter in a small bowl and heat up until butter is melted, but not boiling ( it takes 1mn in my microwave).
Mix oats, salt, coconut and cinnamon in a large bowl. Add nuts and seed mix, if using. Pour in warm maple syrup/butter and stir well to coat.
Spread the oat mixture in the baking tray and slip in the oven for about 12 minutes. Stir a couple of times to ensure it browns evenly. Let cool on the tray and store in an airtight container at room temperature (don’t put it in the fridge or it will get soggy!). It will keep for 2 weeks (if you don’t eat it all before!!!)
Serves: 2 people with hearty appetites. I often have to triple the quantities if I want to keep some for myself!