Feeding children healthy food while on holiday in Latin America is quite an adventure. There is plenty of fresh tropical fruit around plus eggs which make up the base of our diet. However, bread, cereals and crackers are full of sugar and refined grains, not a whole grain in sight. To add to this my 19 month son has gone a month-long growth spurt requiring to be feed every half hour or so. At times I feel this trip revolves around feeding children and finding relatively healthy food to feed them.
Having a good breakfast up our sleeve is essential. Finding simple ingredients such as rolled oats and yogurt without sugar has proved to be tricky and costly but something we feel is important to start the day well. Most mornings begin with our usual creamy prune porridge followed by a mango smoothie and then a plate of scrambled eggs. While visiting family in Colombia we also enjoyed homemade crunchy granola made with freshly grated coconut and local vanilla extract. I share this recipe below but first want to share another homemade Colombian experience.
I am not a big coffee drinker myself but my man is so we always have coffee in the house. However, as mentioned last week, while we were in Colombia and could get our hands on locally grown coffee I became quite partial to a daily cup of coffee. On the second day we arrived we helped roast the green coffee beans for the coming weeks. Now, we are not new to roasting coffee having roasted out own green beans off and on over the years (off when new baby arrives, on when we have the time). But roasting over an open fire we haven’t done preferring the convenience and luxury of a gas burner. At home a large skillet of green coffee beans can take around 45 minutes to roast to a deep brown, while on the open fire it took about half this time as the heat and smoke envelops the skillet. The result is a slightly smoky grind that adds a new dimension to the coffee experience. In fact, possibly the best coffee I have consumed.
Home Roasting Coffee Tips:
I almost forgot to share some exciting news. I am very honoured to be a finalist in the Culinary Quill Awards for this blog – Homegrown Kitchen. The awards are organised by the NZ Guild of Foodwriters, a professional body representing New Zealand Foodwriters. A big THANKS to you my readers for your support over this last year. It is all your positive comments and feedback which keeps me so inspired and motivated to share my recipes. You can read the full list of category finalists HERE – there are some big names on that list so you can understand why I am so honoured. Wish me luck, winner will be announced 2nd November.
This makes quite a large batch so don’t be concerned about the quantity of butter, it gives the granola a lovely crunchy texture. You can also use coconut oil for dairy-free and replace the sugar with coconut sugar. Serve with fresh seasonal fruit (in our case papaya) and natural yogurt.
250g butter or coconut oil
1/3 cup honey
1/3 cup panela (Colombian unrefined cane sugar), raw sugar or coconut sugar
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
1/2 tsp sea salt
2 kg quick-cook rolled oats
1 coconut, flesh removed and coarsely grated
OR 2 cups dried shredded coconut
1 cup chopped nuts; almonds, peanuts, brazil nuts, cashew nuts etc.
2 egg whites, beaten
Preheat oven 140C
Over a gentle heat melt the butter in a large saucepan. Add the honey and sugar stirring to dissolve. Once melted remove from the heat and stir in the vanilla and salt. Cool a little.
In a large bowl combine the oats, coconut and nuts. Once the caramel is cool enough to handle pour over the dry mix along with the beaten egg whites. Use your hands to combine, scrunching the mixture together to make clumps. The mix will be quite sticky.
Spread out the granola mixture onto two lined baking trays in an even layer. Bake for approx. 1 hour, switching the trays around several times and breaking up the larger clumps of granola as they cook. Once the granola is evenly golden remove from the oven. Cool completely on the trays before breaking up into smaller clumps and storing in a large airtight container.