I hate cereal. Ok well maybe not ALL cereal. I wasn't much of a cereal girl when I was a kid. On the very rare occasion, my mother would buy lucky charms which I did love. What kid doesn't? Yum yum food dye... Other than lucky charms, I never had much of a taste for cereal like my brother did- he would use a mixing bowl as his cereal bowl and fill it to the top. Come to think of it he probably still does. I think it drove my mom a bit crazy. You would think a "granola" girl like me would have actually liked granola but honestly it wasn't until I actually started making my own granola that I came to like the stuff. Turns out the store-bought variety tends to be loaded with sugar (yes, even the organic brands) so those of you that are giving yourself a pat on the back when you're picking out your granola at the grocery store saying "look at how healthy I'm being!" well think again! This recipe is not for granola though. It's for its healthier sister muesli. I prefer to eat muesli these days because:
A: It's really easy. I usually have most of these items lurking in my pantry.
B: It's really fast to make ahead or throw together in the morning. And time is of the essence when you have an almost 6 month old.
C: You can make it as expensive or inexpensive as you want, depending on what you want to put in it.
D: It's super healthy and totally NOT loaded with sugar, oils and preservatives.
So why am I calling this my Mamma's Morning Muesli you might ask? Can only mamma's eat this? Well of course not but I had this in mind for all the moms out there rushing around like madwomen in the morning trying to get their kids off to school and skipping out on breakfast themselves. You know who you are! This is a quick make ahead, nourishing cereal that will fill your bellies and give you energy to go out there and battle the day.
Oats are a really wonderful plant source of iron. As you may or may not already know, iron is important for forming haemoglobin (which carries oxygen in our blood). Iron is very important in times of growth such as in childhood, pregnancy, infancy and adolescence. There are two forms of iron- heme (from meats) and non-heme (from plants). Although heme iron is very easily absorbed and conserved very well, too much heme iron (too much meat intake) can create an overabundance of iron in the body because the body has no way of excreting the excess. This can be quite toxic. Non-heme iron on the other hand, is a bit trickier to absorb and requires a lot more intake to get the same amount as heme iron, but it will not cause an overabundance of iron in the body.
A good deal of iron is lost during menstruation, breastfeeding and pregnancy so a good dietary intake of iron during these times is especially important. A pregnant woman needs to take extra care to get enough iron because she is transferring up to 1000mg to her growing baby and without enough iron she will not have the oxygen needed during her pregnancy and delivery as well as after the baby is born. Signs of iron deficiency include fatigue, weakness, dizziness, ice cravings (you may have heard of women who crave ice in pregnancy-yes that's iron deficiency), pale skin and spoon shaped nails.
A lot of the time vegetarians who eat a poor diet that does not contain enough plant sources of iron (whole grains, pumpkin seeds, leafy greens, blackstrap molasses, legumes, dried fruit) will become deficient. Especially menstruating females. It is important to have your iron levels tested if you are a vegetarian and especially important if you show signs of deficiency (see above). Never, however, take an iron supplement if you are not deficient as too much can cause toxicity. I regularly have my levels tested as I don't eat meat and have been slightly anemic (iron deficient) in the past (such as when I was pregnant). When you are taking a supplement take it with vitamin C (as a food source or supplement) which increases the absorption greatly. It its also best to take an organic form of iron such as ferrous fumerate or ferrous gluconate.
Be aware of your diet and lifestyle if you think you may be iron deficient. Other than a diet lacking iron rich foods, contributing factors to iron deficiency may include high intake of caffeine, chocolate and pop as well as antibiotic and aspirin use.
All in all, if you are someone in need of some extra iron, this muesli is a good choice as the oats, dried fruit, nuts and pumpkin seeds are all good plant sources of iron.
Mamma's Morning Muesli
Vegan, Gluten Free
4 cups rolled oats (use gluten free oats if intolerant)
3/4 cup dried figs
1/2 cup unsweetened shredded coconut
1/2 cup raisins
1/2 cup cashews
1/2 cup almonds
1/4 cup sunflower seeds
1/8 cup pumpkin seeds
2 Tbsp. cacao nibs
1 Tbsp chia seeds
1/2 tsp cinnamon
Plant milk or yogurt (obviously the yogurt will make it un-vegan)
Drizzle of honey, (maple syrup or agave for vegans) (optional)
Chopped fresh fruit such as apples, strawberries or bananas
1. Place all muesli ingredients in a large mixing bowl. Stir together to combine. Store in a sealed container.
2. Top muesli with plant milk or yogurt and honey or fresh fruit if desired.
Obviously you can swap out any of the ingredients for nuts/seeds/fruits/etc. that you prefer. This is just a guideline. So there you have it folks. It's so easy to make that there's no excuse not to eat breakfast!
Love and light,