My world was momentarily flipped upside down at eight years old when Mum fractured almost every bone in her foot* and was forced to employ Helga, a middle-aged expat German nanny, to help her out with us three beastly children before and after school.
Shocked and outraged by the sheer abandonment by our own mother (AKA her physical inability to be at our beck and call 24/7) and her decision to palm us off to a complete stranger who had an accent we couldn’t –or blatantly pretended not to– understand, we vowed to make Helga’s experience as difficult as possible.
Of course, in affectionate and remorseful hindsight, Helga was as lovely and caring as they come. She desperately wanted to win us over, if for nothing else than to make her job bearable, and eventually figured out that she could, through a specific route – our stomachs. We suddenly began seeing her as someone who could hang with us when she started making us ‘Special Coco Pops’ instead of the usual Vegemite on toast for brekky.
These Coco Pops were special because not only were Coco Pops usually banned on weekdays in our household, but Helga would sprinkle white sugar all over them to add to the thrilling novelty of our new morning ritual. So we’d polish off our dessert for breakfast, willingly jump in the car with Helga (much to Mum and Helga’s delight), and off we’d go to school, high as kites on the good stuff until we’d crash at recess. Mum didn’t want to crush Helga’s newfound glory, so she let it slide.
So that’s where my love for sweet AF breakfast cereals began. Yeah, blame it on Helga. My obsession with Coco Pops was replaced by Crunchy Nut Clusters and Sultana Bran in my teenage years (SO much healthier 🙄), and my affinity to any type of sweet/crispy/crunchy granola remains to this day.
This Crunchy Chocolate Granola immediately takes me back to the mornings with Helga when I’d eat two huge bowls of Special Coco Pop greatness and drink the leftover pool of sickly sweet chocolatey milk at the end. This version might contain at least 8 teaspoons less sugar per serving and a few (a lot) more nutrients, but the crunchy clusters of chocolatey puffed seeds, quinoa flakes, and toasted nuts still taste totally indulgent. Plus it still leaves that nostalgic pool of choccie milk for you to slurp up straight from the bowl at the end.
The beauty of granola is that it can be used in so many ways – serve it with your favourite nut milk and banana, on top of smoothie bowls or yoghurt, layered in chia pudding parfaits, sprinkled on grilled banana or other desserts, or as a trail mix to snack on.
*Broken foot background story for lols:
It was school holidays and mum took us to “Pirate Day” at the Polly Woodside in Melbourne, the site where a famous 1885 cargo ship is preserved. We ended up playing on the grounds late into the afternoon and most likely ignored the numerous “closing soon” loudspeaker announcements. To this day I have no idea how they managed it, but security ended up locking us in. Determined to not have to sleep on the deck of a haunted ship overnight, we screamed our lungs out for help, to no avail. The only solution that seemed logical at the time was to jump the three-meter fence. mum was to be the guinea pig. She ended up landing badly (her high heeled boots probably didn’t help) and broke the bejeezus out of her foot.
- 2 cups (178g) quinoa flakes (flaked brown rice or buckwheat also works well)
- 1 ½ cups (23g) puffed buckwheat (puffed brown rice also works well if you’re fine with grains)
- 1 ¼ cups (250g) buckwheat grouts, activated if possible
- ¾ cup (45g) unsweetened dried shredded or flaked coconut
- ¾ cup (97g) of your favourite natural nuts, roughly chopped. I use a combination of pecans, macadamias, almonds and walnuts
- ½ cup (80g) pepitas (pumpkin seeds)
- ¼ cup (40g) chia seeds
- ½ cup (100g) coconut oil, plus extra for greasing
- ⅓ cup (95g) pure maple syrup
- ½ cup (32g) cacao powder
- 1 tsp ground cinnamon
- 1 tbsp pure vanilla extract
- ¼ tsp sea sea salt
- Preheat oven to 160*C and grease a large baking tray with a little coconut oil.
- In a large bowl, combine all ‘muesli mixture’ ingredients, except the shredded coconut.
- In a small saucepan, melt the coconut oil over low-medium heat. Add the maple syrup, cacao, and cinnamon, and whisk until all combined. Bring to the boil, then remove from heat. Add the vanilla and salt and whisk until the mixture is fully incorporated and silky. Allow to cool for 2 mins.
- Pour the chocolate mixture over the dry muesli mixture and stir gently until all dry ingredients are evenly coated.
- Spread the mixture evenly over the greased tray. Bake on the middle rack of the oven for 15 minutes.
- Remove from the oven and use a spatula to gently turn the granola over. Add the dried coconut and press the mixture down with the spatula – this will encourage the formation of clusters. Return to the oven for a further 10 minutes, then remove. The granola will continue to crisp up after you take it out of the oven, so don’t worry if it’s still a little soft. Allow to cool completely before transferring to a large air-tight container or glass jars.
- The granola will keep for over a week if stored in a cool, dry place away from direct sunlight. Enjoy with your favourite nut milk and banana, on top of smoothie bowls or yoghurt, layered in chia pudding parfaits, sprinkled on grilled banana and other desserts, or as a trail mix to snack on.
Regarding FODMAPs: Certain nuts and dried coconut contain moderate amounts of FODMAPs (GOS and polyols, respectively), however the amount I have used in this recipe is considered FODMAP friendly when divided into 10 x ¾ cup (approx. 80g) servings.