Years ago, I found myself drinking coffee in the kitchen of a family with teenage children. Of course, there’s always plenty to look at in other people’s kitchens but in this one, I was particularly fascinated by the vast array of boxes of breakfast cereal. Our children were very young at the time – pre-school I suspect – and we were strictly a ‘two-types-of-cereal-at-any-one-time’ family.
Oh how times have changed.
Nowadays, our breakfast cereal shelf looks more like the view of a supermarket shelf – the range is immense. Breakfast is a big deal in our house and the thing is, we all know what we like … in a ‘bordering on OCD way’. And there’s virtually no overlap.
Hella’s morning tipple is Weetabix – it must be milk before sugar and if she chooses to have two Weetabix, they must be eaten sequentially. God forbid if she puts two in her bowl at once.
Finn’s choice is anything with soya milk – but mostly mini Shredded Wheats – fruit filling if I was on the ball in the supermarket; honey, nuts and sugar if he caught me at a weak moment. Joe goes for volume … fill the bowl right to the top – mostly a mix of Bran Flakes, Just Right and Fruit & Fibre. I suspect that no matter the bowl size, he would always fill it to the top – lock away those mixing bowls.
Steve goes for our homemade muesli mix – porridge oats (traditional not quick cook) combined with a selection of seeds (pumpkin, sunflower, sesame and flax), nuts (almonds, cashews, walnuts – all chopped), dried fruits (apricots, figs, dates and cherries – also chopped) and some flaked coconut if I’m feeling fancy. He always chooses soya milk and mostly tops it off with blueberries.
I skip around between porridge; muesli with bananas and sometimes go crazily off piste with a yoghurt.
And for all of us, that only covers breakfast on a school day … Weekend cereal is a whole different ball game.
Hella goes for chocolate stars – they look worryingly like dog biscuits but do taste rather yummy – especially without milk … and straight out of the packet. Finn may go for porridge – there’s no time for it in the week – and Joe has a whole array of ‘weekend cereals’ to choose from – mostly on the crunchy theme with chocolate bits. I must admit that I bought him a couple of boxes of fancy weekend cereal from M&S for his birthday! How rock and roll are we … or rather me?!
For me, a weekend cereal needs to feel like a treat … slightly indulgent; a bit naughty. I’m currently loving Apricot Pistachio Granola from the gorgeous book Whole-Grain Mornings by Megan Gordon. It’s a new recipe for me and it’s really rather good.
It contains my new favourite ingredient, crystallised ginger, along with a good dose of chopped pistachios and enough maple syrup to say “It’s the weekend”! The oil that helps everything combine into crunchy clusters is olive oil and the pop of orange colour from the apricots is enough to put a smile on the grumpiest of faces. It’s very straight forward to make, but save yourself a heap of time by buying ready shelled pistachios.
I’m not as loyal to my choice of breakfast cereal as the rest of the family, but right now Apricot Pistachio Granola is my weekend cereal of choice … at least for the next couple of weekends.
- 300g rolled oats
- 130g raw pistachios, coarsely chopped - ready shelled if possible
- 130g raw pumpkin seeds
- 60g raw sesame seeds
- 60g raw sunflower seeds
- ½ teaspoon salt
- ½ teaspoon ground cardamom
- ½ teaspoon vanilla extract
- 120ml (½ cup) extra-virgin olive oil
- 120ml (½ cup) maple syrup
- 75g finely chopped dried apricots (about 10 apricots)
- 25g diced crystallised ginger
- Preheat the oven to 170ºC, 325ºF (gas mark 3). Line a large rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper.
- In a large bowl, stir together the oats, pistachios, pumpkin seeds, sesame seeds, sunflower seeds, salt, cinnamon and cardamom.
- Add the vanilla, olive oil and maple syrup and stir to combine. Turn the mixture out onto the prepared baking sheet and spread in an even layer.
- Bake until fragrant and golden brown - 35 to 40 minutes. Stir every 15 to 20 minutes to ensure the granola bakes evenly. Remove from the oven and let cool completely on the baking sheet - it will firm up considerably as it cools.
- Stir in the apricots and crystallised ginger once the granola has cooled.
- Store in an airtight container for 3 to 4 weeks.