Sunday 2 September 2007

My favourite meal of the day

My favourite meal of the day, hands down, is breakfast. Unless of course you consider brunch a meal, in which case brunch would win. But since brunch is really a combination of two meals, I think it doesn't really count.

I'm not quite sure when my love for breakfast came about. In fact, growing up it used to be the one meal of the day that I always skipped. At that time, the extra 15 minutes of sleep that I could get by skipping breakfast were just more important. Now I know better and I'm sure you have also seen the countless studies that have shown breakfast to be the most important meal of the day. Not that I need a reason to want to eat breakfast anymore. You see, sometime in the last few years, I've developed a love affair with cereals and granola.

It probably started out with Post's Blueberry Morning cereal. Prior to that, much of my cereal eating had been confined to kiddy favourites such as rice krispies and frosted flakes. Blueberry Morning showed me there was more to cereal than strangely coloured fruit loops and overly sugared cornflakes. Blueberry Morning was my first grown-up cereal.

Last June I discovered a new favourite breakfast combination when I visited Stockholm for the first time - a Swedish granola called Start eaten with fil (a kind of soured milk similar in taste to yogurt but much less viscous). In fact, I was such a fan that I left Stockholm with 2 boxes of Start in my suitcase and since then, whenever M goes back home or I visit Sweden, they are on my must-buy list. I have since discovered that you can buy Start and fil at a little Swedish grocery store in London but it costs at least twice as much. Rather than pay the exorbitant prices, I've discovered a good granola recipe and have modified it to suit my tastes. Its great with fil, regular yogurt or even just with plain milk. In fact, I sometimes even have it for dinner!

Almond granola with berries

4 cups old-fashioned rolled oats
1 cup sliced almonds
1/2 cup soft brown sugar
1/4 tsp salt
1/8 ground cinnamon
1/3 cup vegetable oil
1/4 cup honey
4 tsp vanilla extract
2 tbsp sugar
1 cup dried berries

Preheat the oven to 300F (150C).

Mix together the oats, almonds, brown sugar, salt and cinnamon in a large baking pan.

Heat together the vegetable oil, honey and sugar in a heavy saucepan until it just comes to a boil. Remove from the heat and stir in the vanilla extract.

Pour the liquid mixture over the oat mixture in the baking pan and stir well to mix.

Place the baking pan in the oven and bake for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally to ensure that the granola browns evenly.

Remove the granola from the oven and leave it out to cool. To encourage the granola to form clusters, refrain from stirring during the cooling process. When cool, stir in the dried berries and store in an air-tight container.