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Homemade cashew, coconut, and caramel cereal.

If I walk down the breakfast aisle at the supermarket, it makes me feel sick. Let’s ignore for a moment the advertising nightmares of obesity, insulin resistance, and hyper-activity aimed at children that poor parents have to try and fight, and simply focus on the adult cereals.

I want to take a quick second to shout out to the brands who really are nailing whole food breakfast cereal, like Pure Delish, Blue Frog, and Ceres Organics to name a few, but many people look at the $18+ price tag and have a mini heart attack. If you have the funds but not the time then these brands are fine, use them, add Greek or coconut yoghurt and a little fresh fruit and enjoy. If they’re not in your price range then keep reading.

Now, the rest of the cereals on the shelves often have more ingredients than not that will cause inflammation, blood sugar instability, nutrient malabsorption, fatigue, bloating… the list goes on.

If you are a stunning picture of health, and are not only fit, active and glowing but also have zero (I mean zero) health, weight, skin, hormone, cholesterol or fertility issues and you tell me you eat boxed cereal every day – then I applaud you! I ate the cereal off the plane once and ended up cramping for hours, so I envy you. If however, you have any of the above health issues or niggles, and you’re chowing down on a puffed bowl of “goodness” with some trim milk in the morning (telling me it’s because you prefer the watery taste of trim while actually lying to yourself) then we need to have a little chat.

For the most part, and I really do mean it, cereals in a packet are unhealthy, hinder goals and results and end in you being starving half an hour later. You get to make your own choices as an adult, and if this is what you choose then I can’t stop you, but my professional opinion remains the same – boxed breakfast cereals overall do more harm than they do good.

Even though I suggest not to consume the boxed stuff, I’m not against cereal when made correctly. It’s fast, convenient, easy and delicious so it does make a great option if you pressed snooze just one extra time.

So what makes a good cereal?

1. It contains very little or no dried fruit – this comes down to personal preference if you add any and what you add, but for every cup of cereal I make it only contains a teaspoon of dried fruit – often only organic sultanas, or nothing at all. Dried fruit while a good source of fibre, is a concentrated source of sugar that really doesn’t come with the benefits of eating fresh fruit.

2. It is sweetened with a very small amount of honey or coconut sugar or not at all. I usually stick to 2 tablespoons of honey in a large batch helping it to toast up golden brown. Coconut and spices help to add flavour without the sugar and are much better for you.

3. It is at least 50% nuts, seeds and coconut, and at most 50% oats. This depends on your budget. Wholegrain oats are cheap and if you can tolerate them (yes even some coeliacs can due to the kind of protein present) they bulk the muesli out without stretching the budget. I want more nuts and seeds in your breakfast for the good quality fats and protein that will keep you full, maintain a healthy lipid profile (that ends in great skin, hair and blood cells) and help you progress to your health goals.

4. It contains only food and ingredients you know and trust. There are no strange numbers, no vegetable oils, and not a preservative in sight.

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Cashew, coconut and caramel cereal (makes approx 14-16 servings)

So here is a simple and relatively inexpensive cereal option that is packed full of vitamins and minerals from the actual food, rather than by adding them at the end, and can be kept in the pantry for when eggs, buckwheat pancakes or green smoothie bowls aren’t on the menu. The maca powder gives it a caramel taste alongside honey or coconut sugar and make sure you add a few extra cashews in your nut mix.

You will need…

4 cups wholegrain oats (roughly half a bag)
4 cups mixed seeds and nuts (I use pumpkin, sliced brazil nuts, almonds, chia, sunflower, plenty of cashew and buckwheat kernels)
1 cup coconut chips of desiccated coconut
1/2 cup dried fruit (optional)
2 tablespoons coconut oil
2 tablespoons honey or coconut sugar
1 heaped tablespoon maca powder
1 teaspoon ceylon cinnamon or ground ginger

Throw everything into a large oven tray except for the coconut and dried fruit. Don’t bother mixing right now. I have my oven settings at fan bake and 180 degrees C, but you could also do 190 degrees C if using conventional bake.

I then place the oven tray into a pre-heated oven for 5 minutes, and when the honey and coconut oil have melted, pull out and combine the ingredients well to stir oil and honey throughout.

Bake for a further 10 minutes, then stir once more before baking for a final 10 minutes. Turn the oven off.

Stir through the coconut and dried fruit and then leave to cool just a little before transferring to glass jars before the honey sticks to the tray.

Cool before putting lids on and keeping in pantry.