August, you are officially here, which means that my friend, Summer, is taking her last bow of the season.
Encore, encore… please?
Go out and enjoy these last few weeks of waves, barbecues, and fireworks, because the next event you’ll be attending is the incredible back-to-school sale.
Your kids will need the classic school supplies of pens and pencils, notebooks, and backpacks. Perhaps the most important item, however, is a nutritious breakfast. Many studies show that consuming a balanced breakfast may enhance academic performance among children.
There are many typical American breakfasts, such as bacon and eggs, pancakes, waffles, and oatmeal. One of the most convenient breakfasts, especially for parents and children on-the-go, is cereal.
The invention of cereal dates back to the Civil War in the 1860s. It was created by a man named Dr. James Caleb Jackson.
Cereal was created by a doctor? Yes- the reason for its development was to alleviate the indigestion of the era caused by high protein diets.
Jackson had this notion that water was an almighty healing tool. He mixed water with graham flower, put it in the oven, and ended up with America’s first ready-to-eat cereal called “Granula.”It was so popular that the first cereal company, Our Home Granula Company, was born (1).
There is a reason people eat cereal with milk- The cereal had no taste, so people needed to soak it in milk for a few hours before consuming it!
Cereals these days have become an extravaganza. There is an entire aisle in the grocery store dedicated to the breakfast trend. Boxes of different shapes, sizes, and colors draw the eyes of all parents and kids alike. Unfortunately, many cereals are currently fortified with synthetic vitamins, and contain hefty amounts of added sugars and preservatives. There is a way to get around the cereal system, and that would be to make your own!
I chose to make granola for this blog post. Granola is a type of cereal that contains oats and brown sugar, as well as dried fruits and nuts on occasion. Granola is a delicious breakfast that can be high in protein, fiber, and healthy fats, mainly thanks to oats.
Oats are a type of grain. The kernels on the outside of the oat are called groats (you will never forget that, will you?). When you see whole oat groats in the grocery store, it simply means that the oats were harvested and cleaned to remove the inedible portions. This type of oat will take a long time to cook, because no processing techniques were used to break down the oat for you. Irish oatmeal, or steel cut oats , is made when groats are divided into 2 to 3 pieces with a metal blade. Since the oats are more ground than the initial groats, they will take less time to cook than whole oat groats. Scottish oatmeal is also ground, but it’s mashed with stone instead of a metal blade.
Old fashioned oats, or rolled oats, are made by steaming the groats and then “rolling” them into flakes. This causes the fats in the oats to maintain their freshness, and also allows the oats to cook more quickly due to the higher surface area created through processing. Quick or instant rolled oats are steamed and rolled for longer, which allows the oats to cook within five minutes.
Oats are part of a heart-healthy diet. Oats contain beta-glucan, a form of a carbohydrate that has gel-forming abilities. This “gel” can bind to excess cholesterol in the intestines, preventing it from being digested. Therefore, oats have the ability to lower cholesterol!
For this granola recipe, I used old fashioned oats because of the texture I wanted to achieve. It came out stupendously! Ready to make tomorrow’s breakfast?
For the granola:
- 4 cups old fashioned rolled oats
- 1 cup unsweetened shredded coconut
- 1 cup pecans (unsalted)
- 2 tsp cinnamon
- 1 tsp vanilla
- 1/4 cup honey
- 1/3 cup dark brown sugar
- 1/4 cup vegetable oil
- 1 Tbsp
- ½ tsp salt
- ½ cup cacao nibs
Preheat the oven to 250°F.
Place the pecans in a freezer bag. Crush them to your desired consistency with your hands or a rolling pin.
In a large bowl, add the rolled oats, coconut, crushed pecans, cinnamon, dark brown sugar, and salt.
In a separate measuring cup, add vanilla extract, honey, and 1/4 cup of vegetable oil. Mix the contents of the measuring cup into the large bowl with your hands, until all of the liquid is fully incorporated into the dry ingredients. Add 1 more Tbsp of vegetable oil to the mix, stirring well.
Grease one to two baking sheets or place parchment paper on top of those baking sheets. Spread the granola mix evenly onto the baking sheets until it forms a flat surface.
Place the sheets into the oven for one hour. Mix the granola on the baking sheets every 15 minutes so that the cooking is uniform, and the cereal turns golden brown. The granola is finished baking when the pieces are crunchy like breakfast cereal. Depending on your oven, you may need more or less than 1 hour of cooking time.
After removing the granola from the oven, let it cool on the pans for at least 20 minutes. If desired, mix in 1/2 cup of cacao nibs once the granola has cooled. Store the cereal in an airtight container for up to 2 weeks.
How can you feel upset about Summer’s grand finale when you have this delicious and nutritious breakfast waiting for you every morning?
Turn those frowns upside down, take a generous bite of breakfast, and get ready to learn for another new year.
- Avey, T. What’s for Breakfast? Discover the History of Cereal. The History Kitchen. http://www.pbs.org/food/the-history-kitchen/history-of-cereal/. Updated November 29, 2012. Accessed August 9, 2015.
- Types of Oats. Whole Grain Council. http://wholegrainscouncil.org/whole-grains-101/types-of-oats. Accessed August 9, 2015.