Hello hot summer days, we’re in the month July. In Italy it means everything is about to end. Not in a bad way though. August is the national month of vacation and traditionally all works end, shops close, and all of the projects finish for that big parenthesis. In years before the economic crisis marked hard the lifestyle of italians, people used to close literally everything and go on vacation for the whole month of August. In some small towns people still do that. That’s why most exciting events in Italy happen around mid May; right before the beginning of the end. They call it the social year, which starts in September and ends in June/July. So usually these days are the days that you need to run, to end deeds, to enter in deadlines, to finish projects and think of new ones (if you already haven’t, which means you’re late), to start right in September. It’s hot, (though not particularly this year), you crave for the beach, but you’ve still got work to do. And there’s one question everybody keeps asking you at this time; “Where are you going in August?”
Well, I am going to a new house! I am starting a new life, which is not only a big change but also very demanding. Although it’s exciting to fly from preparing boxes to ending projects (one of which I’m particularly proud of, was participating as the special jury for the 20th edition of Medfilm Festival), late in the evening I feel as if somebody pushed my Off button, I kinda pass out. But when the alarm clocks rings early in the morning, no matter what I have done and what I’m about to do, my first thought is: Breakfast! Glorious, hearty and energizing. Turn that button back On.
I love breakfast. I think it’s my favorite meal of the day. I have been a faithful breakfast-eater only for a couple of years though. That was right when I changed my lifestyle and my eating habits. Italians are not big fans of big breakfasts. The fabulous Italian breakfast is without any doubt Cappuccino e Cornetto al Bar. Which is great, awesome and delicious. But you can’t have breakfast at bars every single morning, no matter how buttery the croissant and how creamy the cappuccino. The reason? Too much sugar, too much fat, too little fiber and way too little protein.
A good breakfast is one that kick starts your metabolism and balances up your blood sugar during the day so you wouldn’t crave too many sweets. For this you need a protein rich breakfast. There are too many ways of making protein-rich breakfasts, especially when they’re savory. But I usually have my savory breakfast when I travel, (in Iran for example, we’ve got some dead serious savory breakfasts such as Kaleh Pacheh and Halim.)
One of my favorite ways of having sweet breakfasts with a decent dose of protein is using oats. Oat is a unique grain because of its distinguishing protein amount comparing to other grains such as wheat or rye. It’s also full of fiber, so it’s a super good for breakfast. That’s why they say oatmeal/porridge is good for you.
Unlike Anglophone and most north European countries, In Iran, and also in Italy, we don’t have a culinary tradition about oats. Although we can find famous oat products such as granola and muesli on supermarket shelves.
Granola was invented in the US in mid 19th century and it’s made of baked oats with seeds oil and honey, and occasional dry fruit or nuts. While the much healthier muesli was invented right in the beginning of 20th century by a swiss doctor for his patients. It’s simply raw rolled oats, ground/chopped nuts and dry or fresh fruit and it’s usually eaten with milk or yoghurt.
This recipe of healthy granola is one of the results of my experimenting with oats. I am not sure if it can be categorized as granola. Maybe I can call it Granoesli because it’s kind of a combination between granola or muesli. The sure thing about it is that it’s super easy to make at home, so you can stop buying the sugar and chemical loaded products at the supermarkets. It’s healthy and light (since I use no oil or butter in it). And you can change the ingredients regarding what you have and what you like. It’s a fantastic energizing breakfast (or snack, why not?), full of protein and fiber.
- 200 gr. rolled oats or a mix of oat and other grain flakes
- 3 tbsp. of honey or pure malt
- 2 large apples
- A handful almonds (or walnuts if you prefer)
- A handful of dry mulberries
- 4 dry apricots
- a pinch of cinnamon
- a pinch of nutmeg
- a pinch of salt
- Peel the apples, chop them coarsely and put them to cook either in a small sauce pan or or bake them until tender. The important thing is not to add any water to them, other wise it’ll be too runny. Mash the cooked apple in a food processor. Now place a non sticking on the high heat, when it’s quite hot turn the heat a little down and tots the oat flakes (or you mix grain flakes, I’ve used oat flakes and mix grain flakes). Stir continuously until it start to smell great, and it’s lightly golden. Pour the flakes in a large bowl.
- Chop the almonds coarsely and toast them slightly in the same hot pan, add them to the same bowl when they’re slightly browned. Chop finely (depending on how you like it) the dry apricot and the mulberry and them to the bowl too.
- Add the honey (or malt) to the same non sticking pan that’s still on medium heat. When it’s quite warm and runny add the mashed apples and mix well. If the solution is too runny let it thicken a little, but keep stirring. Add the mixture to the bowl of flakes, nuts and dry fruit and mix very well. Season with cinnamon, nutmeg and a pinch of salt. Place a baking parchment on the oven tray and spread this mixture on it, so that it’s about 2 cm. tall maximum. Bake this on 180 degree until it is dried out. The time really depends on which type of oven you’re using. If it is fanned, the granola will be crunchy soon. Try 20 to 40 minutes, checking it out regularly.
- Take the tray out of the oven and let it cool down. Then break it into small pieces. It can be stored in a jar for about 2 weeks.
- Serve it with milk (with coffee), or yogurt and/or fresh fruit of the season.
Coming from Iran, she mostly develops her recipes by combining the aromas of the middle east with the flavors of the Mediterranean, specially Italy, where she has found her second home.