Is it just me, or does the month which brings about so much merry making, good cheer and gathering also bring on anxiety, thoughtless spending, rushing around like crazy and a feeling of deflation at the end of it all, like a wound up toy being unleashed on the countdown to Christmas. This used to be me, always feeling like the last month of the year I had to get ‘all the things done’ before the year was out, ready to start afresh on new years day. Literally trying to see everyone I knew just because it was the years end, feeling the pressure to battle the shops buying presents amongst the Christmas crowds and filling my schedule with social gatherings, fitting in work and doing lots of ‘end of the year life-admin’ which I’d conveniently left until the very last weeks of the year. Result: I was exhausted, anxious, run down and unable to enjoy the wonderful season that is Winter and the festivities that are abundant at this time of year. Thankfully, last year I made a decision to screw all of that and take note from mother nature (always a good cue when I’m feeling out of whack). Winter is time for rest, renewal, slowing down and reflecting, as one of my favourite quotes says ‘Many plants, like the tulip and the apple tree would not blossom in the spring time if it weren’t for the period that is the winters chill. Their example can inspire us to use this season of slumber to cleanse ourselves like flora shedding lifeless foliage so that we too, may emerge from under the frost refreshed and renewed when spring arrives.’ I’ve made the decision to slow down rather than speed up the last month of the year, to savour it’s beauty and gifts, to create rather than accumulate, craft over purchase, cook at home rather than eat out amongst the crowds, visit close friends and family over loose acquaintances and enjoy the sweet festive season with calm and gratitude. Never do I want to wish away the last moments of a year in the mentality of ‘starting over again’ come new years day. Every day is for achieving whether it be big or small, when we live with gratitude and presence we learn to make achievable goals throughout the year. It took having children to remind me of this important lesson but I’m so happy I got here!
On that note, I like to spend the whole of December making small handmade gifts to give to friends and family come Christmas. Now that Fern loves to help me, I dedicate a day to making, packaging and wrapping small gifts which resemble our family and the kind of things we love to make and enjoy. Home made granola is one of them and the version I have here today makes a perfect gift, as well as being one of our staple breakfast items of late. It’s sweet, crunchy, toasty and clustery, all of the best things a granola should be and made out of a base of, wait for it.. Sweet potato! After thinking I’d come up with the worlds most genius recipe ever, I’ve since discovered it’s already a ‘thing’ but hey. I’m still pretty stoked about this one and have been eating it on pretty much everything, from porridges to smoothies, desserts and straight up out of the jar.
I added some spices which I knew would go well with the sweetness of sweet potato and used all of the seeds I had in my pantry; sunflower, pumpkin, sesame plus some desiccated coconut. I roasted the potato right before baking the granola, though you could of course do this step in advance. My main tip for making granola is to keep an eye on your oven and turn the mixture over a couple of times during cooking so that the edges don’t burn, and to spread the mixture quite thinly. My mix covered three medium sized baking trays, so the whole lot got evenly toasted. The recipe will make 2 big jars worth of granola, which lasts less than a week in our house! I’ve been making a batch when ever I have the oven on to keep us in supply.
A few notes on the recipe: I originally tried making this recipe using soaked dates as the sweetener (instead of maple/rice syrup as I have here). Although it does work, I find that it is hard to get the granola to dry out completely without burning, even when left at a low temperature so I resorted to using trusty syrups to sweeten this version. Dates are my preferred sweetener in recipes where possible, so you could use them but just be aware that the resulting granola may not dry out as well therefore won’ last as long.
Sweet Potato Granola
(Recipe adapted from My new roots banana bread granola)
3 medium sweet potatoes (approx 500g)
1/2 cup coconut oil, melted
1/3 cup maple/brown rice syrup
3 cups jumbo rolled oats (GF if required)
1 cup sunflower seeds
1 cup pumpkin seeds
1/2 cup sesame seeds
1 cup desiccated coconut
1/2 tsp salt
2 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp turmeric powder
2 tsp ground ginger
1-2 cups dried fruits (optional)
Pre-heat the oven to 160 deg C. Place the sweet potatoes on a baking tray and roast in their skins for around 30 minutes until they are completely soft. Remove from the oven and slip the flesh out of the skins when cool enough to handle. Pop the soft sweet potato flesh into a bowl along with the melted coconut oil and maple syrup and mash until smooth.
Place all of the dry ingredients in a bowl then stir through the wet sweet potato mixture, making sure it is all well combined and you have a lovely orange mixture. Spread evenly between two large baking trays lined with baking paper, making sure there are no large lumps of mixture. Bake for approx 20 minutes at 180 deg C, turning the mixture over after 10 minutes to avoid the edges burning. When the granola starts to brown slightly and feels dry, turn the oven off and leave the granola in the oven with the door ajar until cooled to ensure it dries completely. When cool, add dried fruit if you like then transfer to airtight jars.
I’d love to see your creations by adding photos using the hashtag #nurturingkitchen! Happy festive season friends, and remember to keep it slow during the month when everything can start speeding up if we don’t remind ourselves to take it slow and focus on the things which really matter.
Love and light,