It's Christmas time!!! Just in case you didn't already know. I absolutely love to give presents at Christmas. I think I get that from my mum. She still does the full Christmas morning, with stockings and presents and "Santa was here!!"...even though us kids are all grown up. But I love that. We all knew Ben was officially part of the family when mum got him his very own Christmas stocking.
This year, as Ben and I are busy saving for our Wedding in (wow) 2 months, we're looking for thrifty ways to spoil our loved ones at Christmas. For our gifts to each other, we've set a $20 limit and a requirement that something has to be made. Nothing says love more than a homemade gift. Ben is a fabulous drawer and writer, so I have no doubt I'll be receiving some sort of short story. Usually his stories involve talking vegetables. I assure you it's both hilarious and adorable. Me? I think I'll have to get crafty soon...
I won't be handing out drawings or songs to friends and family, however. Somehow I don't think they'd be as psyched and supportive of my lame efforts as Ben. Instead, I'll be giving them a batch of my Christmas Muesli.
I developed this recipe in the hope of creating something that was a)delicious, b)light (as this time of the year can be overloaded with cookies and chocolates and pudding) and c)not too expensive. While I heart granola, it's not as healthy nor cheap to make as it's untoasted counterpart, muesli. And so I went with muesli. Lovely.
To add a little of that sweet, toasty, crunchy granola goodness, I toasted the almonds and pepitas before coating them in maple syrup and cinnamon. You'll be surprised how much deliciousness this adds! I tried to find dried cherries to include in this recipe, as this is a Christmas Muesli after all and in Australia, Christmas time is when cherries are at their best. Alas, my search was fruitless - pun very much intended. And so I went with craisins instead - a happy fallback. Lastly, please ensure you don't settle for a bran that tastes like cardboard. Choosing a delicious bran as I do (and I promise it does exist) will make such a difference.
½ cup Slivered Almonds
½ cup Pepitas (pumpkin seeds)
4 teaspoons Pure Maple Syrup
2/3 teaspoon Ground Cinnamon
2 ½ cups Rolled Oats
1 ¼ cups Vogel's Ultra Bran (Soy and Linseed) - you can use other brans, but I love this one as it's delicious. Be sure to pick a yummy bran/bran flakes!
½ cup Craisins (sweetened dried cranberries)
3 tablespoons Dark Chocolate Chips
1. Toast the almond slivers in a large non-stick pan over low heat for 3-4 minutes, shaking the pan to ensure even toasting.
2. Add the pepitas and toast for an extra ~3 minutes until the almond slivers are lightly browned and fragrant.
3. Turn off the heat then add the maple syrup and cinnamon to the pan, stirring the almonds and pepitas to ensure they are evenly coated in syrup and spice. It will sizzle a little, that's just part of the fun. Set aside and allow to cool.
4. In a large bowl, add the oats, bran, craisins and dark chocolate chips. 5. Once the almonds and pepitas are cooled, use your hands to break up any pieces that are stuck together and add these to the bowl. 6. Mix everything together and then transfer to a jar or airtight container. Enjoy with milk and some fresh, sliced banana if you wish.
This recipe makes a big batch but trust me, you'll want it all! It could serve as one generous gift or two smaller ones. I hope my friends and family enjoy their Christmas Muesli. Ben is already requesting more. I have a feeling that this recipe won't be restricted to Christmas time in our house.