Throughout human history, people make an occasion out of dining and similarly, special occasions are organised around the consumption and presentation of food. From ambiance to seating arrangements, meal times are a way for the society to order itself and the various rituals and practices help to solidify the social fabric and the participants’ relationships.
Due to our fast-paced lifestyle, our meals are often the first to suffer, repeatedly becoming an afterthought. In order to stave off hunger and dampen stressful emotions, we turn to cheap, quick, and commonly processed foods to provide the instant gratification our busy lives desire. Amidst the hustle of life the simple pleasures can become easily forgotten, prompting my constant reminder to appreciate the joyous nature of food. There’s nothing more thrilling than meticulously selecting every ingredient with the specific purpose of surprising a loved one or family. My Cacao, Macadamia, and Strawberry Granola represents this exact feeling.
With a special someone in mind, the ingredients were selected to warm their heart and remind them that despite the busy nature of life, there is always time to sit down, breathe, and enjoy breakfast in the face of looming deadlines, high-stress days and a never ending stream of life choices to make. Since food is such an integral part of our lives, choosing to be gentle with ourselves and treat our body with love means we need to prioritise slow food wherever possible. Doing this for a loved one, simply out of love or to lend a helping hand, is also a showing of kindness and support that regardless of what life has presented them with, you are there, you are hearing them and you’re providing comfort. Can I bring this back to granola? For sure. Breakfasts can often lack this element of slow food, therefore preparing this on the weekend to have on hand for yourself throughout the week, or jar and gift to someone with a sweet little tag, is the ultimate celebration of slow food, mindfulness and honouring your body even when life gets all a little messy.
The mashed bananas in this recipe act as a binding agent and provide the “crunchy” factor when it fully cools. I am yet to find a substitute but assume that apple purée/sauce can also stand in place of the 2 bananas if you’re not a fan. The riper your bananas, the sweeter your granola. Feel free to substitute different nuts, I suspect walnuts would work perfectly in this mix. The granola is not overly sweet like store-bought counterparts, so adjust the sweetness as you wish but I suggest following the recipe and allowing yourself to be surprised for your first batch as it’s a little treasure. Enjoy!
Cacao, Macadamia & Strawberry Granola
Makes 1 big jar
- ½ cup / 70g macadamias/walnuts, roughly chopped
- ½ cup / 70g hazelnuts, roughly chopped
- 1 cup / 80g rolled oats
- 1 cup puffed brown rice (or alternatively, another cup of rolled oats)
- 1 cup / 40g coconut flakes/chips (and more to scatter at the end)
- 2 Tablespoons sesame seeds
- 2 Tablespoons chia seeds (optional)
- 2 ripe bananas
- ¼ cup / 45ml coconut oil/extra virgin olive oil
- 2 Tablespoons raw honey/rice malt syrup
- 1 teaspoon vanilla bean paste/extract
- 2 heaped Tablespoons cacao powder
- ½ teaspoon sea salt
- 1 cup / 140g strawberries, roughly chopped
Preheat the oven to 180°C and line a baking tray with baking paper.
Make the dry mixture. Combine the nuts, oats, puffed brown rice, coconut flakes, sesame and chia seeds (if using) in a large mixing bowl. Set aside.
Make the wet mixture. Mash the 2 bananas in another mixing bowl until smooth. If your coconut oil is solid, melt in a saucepan on low heat and then transfer to the mixing bowl with the bananas. Add the honey and vanilla bean paste/extract, and mix until everything is incorporated and smooth. Add the cacao powder and sea salt. Mix again.
Add the wet mixture to the dry mixture and, using your hands to mix, ensure everything is well-coated in the cacao-banana sauce. At this point, add the chopped strawberries and press some of the strawberries into the granola, also leaving some chunky for texture.
Turn the granola onto the baking tray, spreading the mix evenly on the tray and pressing with a spatula to ensure it is compact, and place in the oven for 20 minutes. Check at 15 minutes to ensure there is no burning. Take out of the oven, flip the granola in chunks with a spatula. Return to the oven for 5-10 minutes. Repeat once again, flip the granola in chunks and place back in the oven for 5-10 minutes. Check regularly to ensure there is no burning.
Take the granola out of the oven, do not touch it. Let it cool completely as this will let it set in chunks, and then stir. Store the granola in an airtight container in the fridge for up to a week.
Serve with milk of choice, yoghurt, kefir, berries or any other fruit you desire.
Post written by Maria and Quincy.