Homemade Healthy Breakfast: Sweet and Savory Granola

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breakfast ideas, granola recipe, healthy eating

Actually, eating breakfast is a tricky proposition at best. We're told we should, and yet, somewhere between our good intentions and reality, it often falls to the wayside. Too busy! Not hungry! Where's my coffee? Running out the door during rush hour!

Getting some nutrients in the morning doesn't have to be a gourmet affair. Compromise by taking five minutes to eat a bowl of homemade golden, crunchy grains over Greek yogurt or with milk and maybe a bit of sliced banana here and there. All it takes is a little extra time on the weekend spent stirring ingredients together in a bowl and toasting in the oven—which pays off all week long.

Here are two healthy breakfast recipes for homemade granola that start off similarly enough—oats, nuts, crunchy add-ins, a tasty oil for flavor and texture, a touch of honey—and then diverge into savory versus sweet. The former feels very grown-up to me, whether due to the fact that it's unexpectedly not-sweet (even a little salty) or maybe because of the warm kick of smoked paprika and a little cayenne. Either way, it's delicious. This is a cereal perfect for sprinkling on plain Greek yogurt with the addition of a couple of slow-roasted grape tomatoes or just snacking on out of the bowl, like you would a spicy handful of mixed nuts.

Then there's the sweet variety: rich with coconut oil and cocoa powder yet crunchy from toasted coconut flakes and almonds. With the final flourish of chocolate shavings (get the kind with roasted cacao nibs in it for an extra treat, if you can!), it's almost like dessert for breakfast. I certainly wasn't allowed to have chocolate for breakfast as a kid, so maybe that makes this option feel very grown-up, as well.

Savory Olive Oil & Pepita Granola with Orange Zest & Spice

breakfast ideas, granola recipe, healthy eating

1 1/2 cups oats
1/2 cup pepitas
1/4 cup sliced almonds
1 tsp salt
1/4 tsp smoked paprika
1/8 tsp cayenne
1/2 tsp orange zest
1 Tbsp almond butter
2 Tbsp olive oil
1 Tbsp honey
1 egg white

NOTE: Each of these recipes makes a small batch of about two cups of granola but can easily be doubled or quadrupled if your household is larger than mine.

01. Preheat oven to 300 F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Combine all dry ingredients (oats, pepitas, salt, spices, zest) in a large mixing bowl; mix well. Add the first wet ingredients (almond butter, olive oil, honey), and stir gently, allowing clumps to form.

02. In a separate bowl, beat egg white until foamy, then gently stir into granola mixture, forming even more clumps. (These clumps are a good thing!)

03. Spread granola in a single layer, about a half-inch thick on the parchment, and bake for 20 to 30 minutes, until just golden brown. Remove and let cool. Then gently break up granola into a bunch of clumps and store in an airtight container.

Sweet Granola with Toasted Coconut, Almonds, Chocolate, & Cacao Nibs

1 1/2 cups oats
1 Tbsp cocoa
1/2 cup coconut
1/4 cup sliced almonds
1/8 cup sugar
1/2 tsp salt
1/8 cup coconut oil
2 Tbsp honey
1 egg white
1 3 oz.-bar of excellent quality chocolate, shaved with a sharp knife or finely grated

01. Preheat oven to 300 F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Combine all dry ingredients (oats, cocoa, coconut, almonds, sugar,  salt) in a large mixing bowl; mix well. Add the first wet ingredients (coconut oil, honey), and stir gently, allowing clumps to form.

02. In a separate bowl, beat egg white until foamy, then gently stir into granola mixture, forming those tasty clumps.

03. Spread granola in a single layer, about a half-inch thick on the parchment, and bake for 20 to 30 minutes, until just golden brown. Remove and immediately sprinkle with chocolate shavings, gently breaking up granola into a variety of clumps as you go and allowing the chocolate to melt here and there into the toasty oat crevices. Let cool, and store in an airtight container.

NOTE: I used a bar of Scharffen Berger milk chocolate with roasted cacao nibs (even though I'm generally more of a fan of dark chocolate) because I saw it in the store and was instantly coveting those crunchy little nibs for my granola. Either version would be delicious. It also really helps if you throw the bar in the freezer for about twenty minutes before attempting this!