Is intermittent fasting the new juice cleanse? There are many folks on the internet right now making noise about intermittent fasting: only eating during a set time window (say 12-8pm) so you fast for 16 hours a day. Some people claim this is beneficial for health reasons and I am not one to discredit anything that works for another person, but there is no way I am giving up one of my meals – especially breakfast! If I don’t eat breakfast, I would turn into a hangry monster by noon, and F and my co-workers don’t deserve to deal with that. Do you agree that breakfast is not only the most important but also the most delicious meal? Great, we can be friends then.
I typically do food prep on Sunday and make a big batch of something we can eat for breakfast during the week. The standard line-up includes vegetable frittatas, steel-cut oats and homemade granola. Granola is the recipe I keep coming back to because it is delicious and versatile. You can eat it with yogurt, milk or straight from the container and it works for breakfast, a snack, or dessert. I personally love the kind that stays together in clumps, but if you prefer your granola looser, just give it a stir when it comes out of the oven to break up the chunks. I won’t pretend that this recipe has no sugar or fat, but it’s all about moderation. This granola won’t derail your health goals so long as you don’t eat the whole pan in one sitting, which sounds easy but I am telling you it’s not. I have to restrain myself because it smells so tasty fresh from the oven!
This recipe is customizable – depending on what you have in your pantry and your food preferences. You can use any combination of nuts and seeds, just as long as the total volume is 1 ½ cups. I sometimes swap the tahini for peanut butter, and if you don’t have a nut allergy (like I do), I am sure almond or cashew butter would be delicious. Honey works well instead of maple syrup, but I have not tried using regular sugar so I can’t vouch for it. You can sub coconut oil or butter for the olive oil (just melt the butter in a small saucepan before combining with other wet ingredients). Try orange zest instead of lemon, or omit the zest all together. Cinnamon, nutmeg or cocoa powder can be used instead of cardamom. If you don’t have dates – raisins, dried cherries, or even chocolate chips can be added as a mix in – but add these after you cook the granola. If the dried fruit is fairly small (like raisins or blueberries), no need to chop it up. But if it is larger (like dried mangoes or cherries), dice it so it integrates more thoroughly into the granola.
Once you make granola yourself, there is no going back to store-bought!
2 cups old fashioned oatmeal
1 ½ cup nuts or seeds, roughly chopped – I typically use ½ cup of peanuts, ½ cup of pumpkin seeds, and ½ cup of sesame seeds
¼ cup tahini
¼ cup maple syrup
¼ cup olive oil
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
Zest and juice of 1 lemon
1 teaspoon cardamom
1 cup medjool dates, pitted and chopped
Pinch of salt
Preheat the oven to 300 degrees and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
Mix oatmeal, nuts/seeds, cardamom and lemon zest together in a large bowl.
Mix olive oil, maple syrup, tahini, vanilla and lemon juice together in a small bowl.
Pour the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients and stir thoroughly to combine. The mixture will look pretty wet and that’s good – no one likes a bland granola.
Spread the oat mixture on the baking sheet lined with parchment paper and smooth out so it evenly covers the pan – you want the granola to be flat so it cooks evenly.
Bake at 300 degrees for 30-35 minutes. Check around 15 minutes and turn the pan around so the granola is cooked evenly – yours may need a little more or less time depending on the temperature of your oven.
Once the granola starts to look golden, pull out of the oven and leave on the pan to cool. This ensures large clumps stay together after baking. If you prefer a looser granola, this is the time to stir to break up those clumps before it cools and hardens. I’ll judge you from afar.
Once the granola is cool, add the chopped dates to the mixture before storing in an airtight container. The granola will keep for a week in an air-tight container – good luck making it last the entire week!