I don’t know about you dear reader, but there’s something about the scents of cinnamon and vanilla that I find equally comforting and alluring. Their warmth and sweetness invoke memories of apple crumble baking in the kitchen on a rainy afternoon or Christmas mulled-spiced mugs of wine enjoyed by the fire while the snow falls softly outside or fat golden churros eaten greedily straight from the pan as generous tumblings of sugar spill over your fingers and make your lips impossible-to-ignore lickable.
Now whilst I’ve nothing against advocating traditional comfort food, alcohol or Mexican doughnuts for breakfast, I should probably reassure you that this is in fact a little post campaigning for the use of these flavours in a much healthier, quicker & simpler sunrise routine…All those Pinterested mason jars & glass bowls that you see layered with glorious fruits, creamy yoghurts and crunchy granola are much easier to make than you might think; in less than 15 minutes, you too can have a breakfast worthy of Instagramming to your heart’s content.
- Pre-heat your oven to 375 f or 190 c.
- In a bowl combine 40g of oats, 1/4 teaspoon of ground cinnamon and 1/2 a teaspoon of vanilla extract (this is for one person).
- Once they’re all well mixed, spread them across a baking tray and pop in the oven for 15 minutes; check halfway through the baking time, giving a good stir to ensure nothing gets burnt.
- Once the oats are toasted and golden, pour into a dish with your choice of yoghurt and fruit; we kept this as virtuous as possible with fat-free natural yoghurt and gave it a suggestion of autumn by adding whole blackberries and grated Pink Lady apple.
- Top with a generous drizzle of clear golden honey and congratulate yourself on making something effortless and rewarding.
Let’s have a quick chat about the ingredients used here because although you can easily swap some of them for alternatives, this is a bowl overflowing with goodness in its original format.
Oats first – while most people quite rightly think of oats as a super-food, it’s best to use steel cut as opposed to rolled if possible because steel cut have simply been chopped coarsely whereas rolled are steamed, rolled, steamed again and then toasted. Steel cut also have a lower ranking on the GI index also meaning you’ll get less of a quick high followed by a quick blood sugar drop from them. Most major supermarkets now stock brands such as Flahavans or if you’re really stuck, Scott’s do ‘Old Fashioned Porage Oats’ which, although rolled, are much bigger in size and denser in texture – I love these bad boys as you actually feel like you’re chewing & eating something as opposed to slurping down a bowl of perfect-for-the-toothless oatmeal.
Blackberries are a gorgeous soft fruit that are often under-rated when compared to their pinker cousins but I absolutely love them. Dark, glossy and often packed with much more flavour than raspberries, they’re not actually berries as such but are made up of tiny, individual, seeded fruits and it’s this high percentage of seeds & skin that give them such a powerful nutritional breakdown; 100g will give you approximately 5g of fibre and cost you only 45 calories, they steady blood sugar levels, are crammed full of vitamins C, A, K and E (yes, I too see what that spells but focus people please…) and deliver good doses of minerals including potassium, copper and magnesium.
Apples have always been praised for their health benefits however a 2011 study by the University of Western Australia found that Pink Ladies with their characteristic sweet fizziness have the highest levels of flavonoids which are antioxidants responsible for helping counter-balance free radical damage in your body that can lead to health issues internally such as heart disease and externally in the form of wrinkles. So the old adage of an apple an day basically means you’ll look younger and have a happier heart. I’m sold.
Just as there are good and bad fats, so there are good and bad sugars and honey, which has been around for over 4000 years, sits firmly in the latter camp. Effective at killing harmful bacteria, its natural sugars provide an instant source of energy and are excellent at boosting your immune system.
Natural yoghurt has long been touted as a wonder food for many reasons – it’s wonderfully high in protein so keeps hunger at bay, possesses friendly bacteria that keep your gut balanced and packs a powerful calcium punch for strong bones & teeth. Keep away from the sugary laden fruit varieties, look for a low or no fat version and you’re onto a winning way of bulking up your breakfast in the best way.
Coming full circle, we arrive back at the cinnamon and vanilla whose warm & delicious praises we were singing at the start of this post and who add yet more antioxidants to our bowl as well as improving and helping with brain and heart functions. Hopefully I’ve convinced you that when you have the time and inclination, it’s well worth leaving the box of pre-packaged cereal on the shelf and toasting, mixing and creating something you can truly enjoy and feel good about eating. The rest of the day may descend into a maelstrom of desperate wine fueled, cake consumption – otherwise known as Tuesday for me – but at least you got it going in the best possible way.