I am not a morning person. Unless I plan ahead, breakfast tends to be forgotten on weekdays. Unfortunately, I also tend to have fairly low blood-sugar levels anyway, so if I don't have breakfast, it has a hefty impact on my mood and productivity for the day.
As a result, I have some pretty definite criteria for my breakfasting choices:
- Low-GI (to avoid mid-morning sugar crashes)
- High protein (to stay full until lunchtime)
- Fast and easy to prepare, without involving a stove or any washing up other than a quick rinse before slotting into the dishwashing (we have cats, and wrangling them out of the kitchen is a step too far when you're trying to get ready for work)
- Fast, easy and portable to eat (I often find it difficult to actually eat until I've been awake for a little while, so I prefer something I can easily bring to work and munch on while I check my emails)
Last year, husband suggested crunchy muesli (AKA granola for those in America) clusters with yoghurt as an addition to the breakfast rotation. The problem with that idea was that all the commercial varieties had too much sugar, were insufficiently crunchy or were prohibitively expensive - or all three!
Thus began the great crunch hunt of 2016, resulting in the recipe below. (Photo slideshow also available for the visual cooks among us)
All toasted muesli recipes share more or less the same basic ingredients and proportions, but I feel like a special mention of Smitten Kitchen's granola recipe is deserved for the idea of adding egg white for the extra crunch.
High protein, low-GI crunchy muesli clusters
- 3 cups rolled oats
- 1 cups shredded coconut
- 1/4 cup almond slivers
- 1/4 cup granulated peanuts
- 1/4 cup almond flour
- 1/4 cup seed mix (e.g. sesame/sunflower/pepitas)
- 2 tbs sunflower/vegetable oil
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1/2 cup maple syrup
- 2 egg whites
- 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
- 1 cup chocolate chips/dried fruit (optional)
- Swap the almonds/peanuts/seeds out for approximately 1 cup of whichever nuts/seeds you prefer. You might notice that for the batch photographed, all I had on hand was sesame seeds, which is still delicious! The main concern is that you've got a 3:1:1 ratio of oats/coconut/protein and that your protein maintains a pleasant crunch when baked.
- Swap the maple syrup out for honey - I haven't actually tried this, as I always have maple syrup on hand, but from everything I've read, this should still work.
- Serve like cereal with milk instead of yoghurt
- Vegan option - swap out egg whites for 1-2 tbs pea protein mixed with 1/4 cup water. Again, I haven't tried this, but it's the protein in the egg white that binds it and gives it the extra crunch, so this should work. If anyone tries this, please let me know how it turns out!
- Preheat oven to 145°C (293°F).
- Combine all dry ingredients except chocolate chips/dried fruit in a large mixing bowl. You'll be doing a lot of large-motion stirring, so if you've got a bigger bowl than the one you're about to reach for, use that instead.
- Create a well in the dry ingredients and pour in the oil and maple syrup. Mix well, ensuring the liquid ingredients are distributed evenly.
- Whisk the egg white in a small bowl until frothy, then pour over the muesli mixture. Stir to distribute the egg white evenly.
- Spread the mixture thinly and evenly onto two lined baking sheets. You should be able to see the baking paper through gaps in the mixture.
- Bake for 45-55 minutes, depending on your baking sheets. Err towards 45 for dark baking sheets, 55 for pale baking sheets. Reduce by 10 minutes if using a fan-forced oven. Monitor every 15 minutes or so and rotate the pans if you notice them browning unevenly.
- When the muesli is golden brown, remove from the oven and allow to cool on the pan.
- Once cool, it should lift up like one giant crunchy Anzac biscuit. Break into clusters of a size to suit your preferences and store in an air-tight container. Keeps for 2-3 weeks in an airtight container kept in a cool, dry location.
Suggested Serve: 1/3 cup clusters over 1/2 cup yoghurt, sprinkling dried fruit/chocolate chips as desired.
I usually just break it up small enough to fit into my containers, then crumble further on serving. This batch will probably last two weeks' worth of workday breakfasts for the two of us.
Husband prefers his clusters with dark chocolate chips over greek yoghurt, whereas I prefer mine with dried sultanas/currants over vanilla yoghurt. Either way, it's pretty darn tasty and keeps us satisfied until lunchtime. It's also great to nibble on a handful of clusters as an after-work snack.
I'd love to hear what other toppings you would serve this with. Let me know in the comments below.