• Diana Lee

Healthy Granola Breakfast Cookies


How to make healthy breakfast cookies full of nuts and seeds that you most likely have piled up or forgotten in your pantry. But first, some thoughts from my apartment in Milan.


The other day I got upset at 🐸 because he wanted to pop out to get clams: "Clams?? Clams you say? It is not the time to be buying exotic ingredients!" The poor man, he just wanted to make a pasta con le vongole, and to be fair, the fishmonger is literally just 500 meters from the apartment.


Did I overreact? Maybe. Maybe it's the Aussie in me (Aussies are sticklers when it comes to rules, we have too many of them). But better safe than sorry. And one less hospital bed taken is one more life that can be saved.


I read that approximately a third of the world is in lockdown or qurantine mode now. So chances are, you are reading my blabble right now sitting in your bed, at your dining table, or on the toilet (I would be honoured if this is the case - I always reserve my best reads for my private office). Hopefully the biggest concern for you at this moment is how you will use those panic-bought black beans piled up in your cupboard (eek), or whether you need to shower today (yes), or what BBC animal video you are going to watch on YouTube (pandas and dogs, of course).


If you're not a regular anti-social-distancer, this period of social distancing will probably be difficult for you. On this, you might feel better knowing that your favourite celebrities are clumsily navigating their way through the new 'stay at home' lifestyle too. Madonna made me cringe with her flaunting of rich white woman priviledge: she talked about how the best thing about the virus was how it makes us all equal (WHAT THE FUDGE?), delivered from her Architecture Digest-perfect bathtub complete with fresh flower petals. I guess she realised later that she was a total cretin, because she has since deleted this post on her Insta feed. All the better that you missed it.


On the other end of the spectrum, Snoop Dogg gave me the best laughs with his (surely pot-induced) attempts to comfort his followers. "Shit I can't even get my hair done" he says. His posts will make your belly hurt. Check this homey out.

If you are looking for other humble things to do, look to some positively time-consuming projects that you'd left on the back burner. Now, you actually have all the hours in the day to watch over a rising dough, or a slow cooking stew. You can easily attend to your bread rising on your benchtop, set just out of the background of your camera lense as you pretend to be present instead on your video conference call.


Why not try making a focaccia? I've got a proven, kick ass recipe for it, when you are ready. Make the starter the night before, it is just a matter of stirring together water, flour and yeast. Let this sit overnight and start getting it all on the next morning. It will need another rise before baking, so it's the perfect weekend, oh, I mean, any-day-under-quarantine project.


Or maybe you prefer a simple, homely ciabatta bread? I picked up this version at the Scuola di La Cucina Italiana (the real-life cooking classes of the La Cucina Italiana food magazine) and it's like that reliable, comforting bread that comes in bread baskets at Italian restaurants, but better. Check it in my Instagram stories under Ciabatta recipe.

Now let's get into these granola cookies. This is a recipe I found from one of my favourite books, Pastry Love by Joanne Chang, where she calls them her seedy, nutty breakfast cookies. Chang is the fabulous James Beard Award-winning baker behind the Flour bakeries in Boston. I've not been, but would love to visit one day once this pandemonium is over.


I call these granola cookies because with all the seeds, nuts and oats in them they are literally like a healthy, hip granola that you would put over yoghurt for breakfast. I love them because they're really hard to get wrong, and after making them a few times I've also found that the recipe is easily adaptable as well. That's a good thing because not all of us have bags of nuts and seeds like some organic grocery shelf. Although I did find all of these at my local store, I had bits and bobs of them lying around my drawers after using them for the odd baking project some time ago.


Don't let this long list freak you out - you don't need all of them, and you can use some common sense in substitutions for the nuts and seeds. And let's admit it, in these lockdown times, we are all eating way too much junk - a healthy option made by your own hands is going to make you feel a lot better about life right now.


Can I substitute some of the seeds and nuts in the recipe?


Substitutions work well in this recipe. Go for similar types and sizes, for example:

- walnuts can be substituted with almonds, pistachios;

- if you don't have either pumpkin seeds, flaxseeds or sunflower seeds, you can leave it out and increase the amount of the other seeds you have;

- dried cranberries, raisins, cherries: you can use a mix of other dried fruits instead. Dried apricots or figs I think will go well. Just remember to chop them into smaller pieces;

- ran out of honey? Maple syrup or agave syrup is perfectly fine too.


Granola Breakfast Cookies Recipe

Makes approximately 18 cookies

Adapted from Pastry Love, by Joanne Chang


If you are going to a cookie for breakfast, at least make it one that your body will thank you for. These nutty, seedy cookies are full of all the good stuff that you'd normally find in a hipster cafe breakfast granola mix, but put together in the form of a cookie. There's no added sugar in this recipe, which gets sweetness from honey and a mashed banana. Don't worry about following the recipe to a T - the cookies will still be fabulous with a number of substitutions for the nuts, seeds, and sweetener (honey). Read my notes above for some ideas.


Cookies should last a few days at room temperature in a well sealed container. Of course there is the option of freezing - after forming the cookie balls, flatten them slightly, then place the balls on a tray and freeze them for a few hours. When they are hard enough, you can tip them into a plastic bag to keep in the freezer. Bake directly from frozen, adding a couple of minutes maximum to the baking time.


Ingredients

225 g butter, melted

150 g honey

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

3 eggs, room temperature

1 ripe banana, mashed


100 g pumpkin seeds

40 g flaked coconut

45 g sunflower seeds

50 g flaxseeds, linseeds

50 g millet or quinoa


100 g toasted walnuts, chopped

150 g rolled oats

120 g cried cranberries or raisins

100 g whole wheat flour

100 g dried cherries

1 teaspoon baking soda

1 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/4 tesaspoon ground nutmeg


Method

1. Whisk together the butter, honey, vanilla in a medium bowl. Whisk in the eggs and banana, until smooth. Set aside for now.


2. Grab a large bowl, and combine the pumpkin seeds (pepitas), coconut, sunflower seeds, flaxseeds, millet or quinoa. Stir together, then scoop out about 1/2 cup and set aside (this is to use as the topping for the cookies before they go into the oven).


3. Add the walnuts, rolled oats, dried fruit, flour, baking soda, salt, cinnamon and nutmeg, stir to combine.


4. Pour in the butter mixture and stir everything together to combine.


5. Let the cookie mix rest in the fridge, covered, for at least 30 minutes up to overnight. This lets the flavours to mingle and for the dry ingredients to absorb the liquid.


6. In the meantime, preheat the oven to 175C and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.


7. When ready to bake: scoop out 1/4 cup of the batter and roll into a ball in your hands. Dip one side of the ball into the seed mix that you set aside earlier. Place on the baking sheet with the seeded side on top, and flatten so that they are about 1.5 cm thick. Bake for 20-22 minutes until golden brown.


8. Let cool for about 15 minutes on the baking sheet, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.



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