Monday, March 29, 2010

Begin with breakfast

Although I consider myself pretty liberal and open to change, I have to admit that I'm a creature of habit. It seems that I crave routine and order the way some people crave sunlight on winter mornings. This quirk of mine can most clearly be seen in my food choice. When I find a food I like, I eat it. Over and over and over again. However, even I can get tired of eating the same things day in and day out. When that happens, I usually start another routine which I follow, until I get tired of that one, which usually takes a couple months. Since my lunch and dinner are usually different everyday (except when there's leftovers), it's my breakfast foods that are usually the same daily. In a way, I can measure my growth in terms of the different breakfast foods I'd eaten.

When I was in 3rd grade, which was 1998, I would beg my mom to buy strawberry poptarts for breakfast, which was what everyone in my grade ate at that time. I would pop a poptart or two into our toaster oven and then eagerly wait for it to pop out. When it did, I would always impatiently grab them before they had a chance to cool off. I would then burn my tongue biting into the crisp frosting with a sweet, molten hot strawberry filling. Sometimes I'd try different flavors, such as blueberry and even once, s'mores, but the strawberry one was always my favorite.

When I entered middle school, school started at 7:40, so I had to wake up at 7:00 every weekday, which was way too early in my opinion. My mom, after waking me up, would go downstairs and prepare dou sha bao, or red bean steamed buns, which she'd always put on a plate with a vitamin next to it. Not even fully awake during that time, I'd sleepily eat a couple of those soft buns that would give in to a sweet, chewy interior with flecks of whole red beans.

Then came high school, when I started becoming interested in nutrition. I would read the health magazines lying around our home. I kept spotting similar articles in these magazines, such as eating whole grain, more fruits and vegetables, and drink enough water. Listening to their advice, I would pack a sandwich bag full of grape nuts and raw almonds and munch on them on the school bus en route to school. I never liked the grape nuts that much, nor the almonds, but I ate it because I thought it was healthy. Sometimes, when I forgot to pack my breakfast, I would buy breakfast at school, which included cereal, breakfast pizzas, and always, chocolate milk.

In college a during the first semester at Penn State, I ate breakfast in the dining halls, which I must say were excellent. I would usually eat oatmeal or during the weekend brunches, I would eat quiche, waffles or omelets. Penn State had an awesome fruit bar, and I would load a bowl full of kiwis, blueberries, strawberries and mangoes to eat. By the second semester, I decided to save money by buying breakfast outside of school. It was around this time I came across a blog, Gluten Free Girl, the writer of which, had an allergy to gluten. After researching this, I questioned whether I might have the same allergy to gluten, so I gave up gluten for a semester. (Later, I discovered that I did NOT actually have gluten allergy). So I would purchase delicious, yet healthy, Larabars at the corner market which although were expensive, were much cheaper than eating at school cafeteria. My favorite flavor, to this day, is the sweet cashew cookie Larabar, made with ground dates and cashews.

Last fall, the fall of 2009, I took a year off college. At home, with my mom, dad, and sister, I would eat oatmeal during weekdays, which is what my mom ate everyday for breakfast. I would sprinkle ground flax seed, walnuts, and peanut butter into my oatmeal. I can't say I loved it, but it was good.

Now, in the springtime, I have another favorite breakfast. I dump spoonfuls of plain yogurt into a bowl, add two handfuls of toasted oat cereal, and then add another two spoonfuls of granola. After mixing it together, I eat until my tummy is nice and full.

Every morning, I wake up, lie in bed for half hour, then with a sudden charge of energy, leap out of bed and into my clothes. After putting my contacts in, I rinse my mouth and head downstairs to my breakfast. And every morning, after finishing my yogurt with cereal and granola I am left content and sated.

adapted from Nigella Lawson’s Feast

Dry ingredients:
5 cups rolled oats
2 to 3 cups raw almonds or walnuts, or a mixture, chopped finely
1 cup hulled raw sunflower seeds
1/2 cup sesame seeds
1/4 cup flax seeds
2 tsp. ground cinnamon
1 tsp. ground ginger
1 tsp. salt

Wet ingredients:
¾ cup unsweetened apple sauce
1/4 cup maple syrup
¼ cup honey (or skip the maple syrup and use 1/2 cup honey, like I did)
2 Tbsp. vegetable oil, such as canola or safflower

1. Place racks in upper and lower thirds of oven. Preheat oven to 300°F.
2. In a large bowl, combine all the dry ingredients. Mix well.
3. In a small bowl, combine all the wet ingredients. Mix well.
4. Pour wet ingredients over the dry ones and stir well.
5. Spread the mixture equally onto two baking sheets.
6. Bake 35 to 40 minutes until golden brown.
7. Rotate the pan ad stir well every ten minutes.
8. Remove from oven and stir well and set aside to cool.

Yield: 10 cups.


Anonymous said...

I made this granola for my 6-year old son, and he loved it!

Katie said...

I'm glad to hear that.

Anonymous said...

I'm not the biggest granola fan, but this recipe is alright in my book.

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