Thursday 14 December 2017

Healthy eating: Susan Jane White says have a berry Christmas

Have a berry Christmas, says Susan Jane White, with a golden granola full of dried cranberries and good cheer

These tarty little treasures are just the thing you need during December's debauchery. Too much gargle can stress the stomach and kidneys, making you feel like a stuffed tomato on a tricycle.

The good news is that cranberries may help remedy this. Cranberries hold unique antibacterial and antiadhesion properties that fight urinary tract infections. In other words, they are your kidneys' BF. These very same compounds have been shown to inhibit the growth of H pylori bacterium, known to cause stomach ulcers and wicked hangovers.

You don't have to suffer the fresh variety of cranberries that make eyes water and toes tingle. Dried ones are just as effective, and noticeably kinder on the lips. Cranberries will also shoot a splendid dose of vitamin C, antioxidants and phytonutrients into the bloodstream. Our immune system is going to need all the help it can get during Yuletide's misadventures!

Christmassy Granola

This looks like a shocking amount of shopping, but it should make up to 15 breakfasts or snacks. Besides, it's terribly tasty and it trumps any expensive, store-bought granola. Perhaps some of the ingredients are already lurking in your cupboard?

The beauty about making your own granola is knowing exactly what went into it. No cheap fats, preservatives, sugar or any of the gunk that is regularly found in the commercial varieties. Just uncomplicated, raw ingredients.

For your inner Mary Poppins, tie a ribbon around a jar of granola and give as a Christmas pressie. Tips on driving down the cost? Aldi do bargain packets of unsalted macadamia and cranberries, as well as good Irish honey. Lidl have excellent walnuts, and industrial-sized tubs of Greek yoghurt for a fraction of the usual prices.

You will need:

8 tablespoons extra virgin coconut oil

1/2 cup honey or raw dark agave

Grated zest of 2-3 oranges

1 cup dried cranberries

1 cup dates, chopped into chunks

5 tablespoons ground linseed or ground almonds

3-4 cups porridge oats

1 cup walnuts or macadamia

1 cup desiccated coconut

1 teaspoon good-quality sea salt

1 tablespoon dried ginger

2 tablespoons ground cinnamon

1 cup sunflower seeds

Handful of sugar-free banana chips (optional)

First, throw on some Rat Pack music and resuscitate that Santa hat. Then gently melt the extra virgin coconut oil over a very low heat. Your head should bob from side to side. Dog should look anxious. Now, stir through the honey or agave, whichever you are using, and switch off the heat.

In a large baking bowl, toss together the orange zest, the dried cranberries, the chopped dates, the ground linseed or ground almonds, whichever you are using, the porridge oats, and the walnuts or macadamia nuts, whichever you are using. Next, add the dessicated coconut, the sea salt, the dried ginger, the ground cinnamon and the sunflower seeds. I add the banana chips after cooking, but it doesn't matter if you add them now. Pour over your honeyed oil, coating the granola thoroughly, and spread the mixture out on two pre-lined baking trays.

Bake for 35 minutes at 160 C, 325 F, Gas 3 in a conventional oven -- 145 C in a fan oven -- toss every 10 minutes with a wooden spoon to stop the outside from burning. If the nuts and oats turn dark brown, they will taste bitter. You want a golden-brown glow.

Remove from the oven and cool completely before storing in an airtight jar. Here are five great ways to devour it: on top of natural yoghurt with a swirl of maple syrup; with freshly mashed bananas and more cinnamon; sprinkled over thick Greek yoghurt and stewed prunes; or adorned with honey and pomegranate seeds which are on special at Lidl and Superquinn right now. Fa la la la lahhhh . . .


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