There are a few foods that are universally known to be addictive: nuts, popcorn, slangetjies (my Cape Malay folk will relate), and… muesli.
Muesli versus Granola
South Africans typically relate to and recognise the word muesli more than they do granola. While the word muesli originated in Europe, granola has its origins in North America. However, etymology is not the beginning and end of their differences. Some would say that granola is a variety of muesli. Others would say that while they look similar, one ingredient sets the beloved American granola apart from it’s muesli counterpart – a sweetener.
Both muesli and granola are cereals made up of oats, nuts and dried fruit, and are usually eaten with milk or yoghurt. Granola, however, is prepared with a sweetener, and the mixture is baked until it’s toasted. The joy of granola lies in it’s versatility. You could have it as a cereal or snack. I usually snack on the cereal as is, but you could turn them into bars that are either baked or refrigerated to set. You could even create granola clusters!
I grew up eating muesli, but I have to admit, granola feels like a satisfying, grown up choice. The best part about all of this is that it’s incredibly simple to prepare your own granola at home.
Making your own granola
Making your own granola takes very little effort and is completely adaptable. You can add or omit any of the ingredients, barring the rolled oats and sweetener. You can play around with different combinations and spices to create an interesting new batch, every time. Not to mention that you’re able to exercise full control over the amount and type of sweetener used. You could experiment with different kinds of sugars, syrups, or honey.
I thought I’d start off with a simple, yet delicious version that includes my favourite additions: nuts AND raisins. And to keep it as healthy as possible, I’ve selected maple syrup as the sweetener. After eating raw, unsalted nuts for so long, this went down such a treat!
Some pointers to get you started
- It’s highly advisable that you use rolled oats. Instant and quick oats are processed, while rolled oats are not. The quality of the two differ significantly. I challenge you to do a side-by-side comparison, and decide for yourself.
- Adjust the sweetness to your preference, and always try to use the “healthiest” form of sugar you have access to.
- Adjust the baking time to your preference. I like my nuts roasted, and my oats crunchy, so I usually bake it for up to 60 minutes. It’s a good idea to keep an eye on them from the 40 minute mark.