I believe that things won’t progress without feedback.  This has been the case with every single one of my Ponytail Journal endeavours, and I will never say that anything is perfect… There is always room for improvement.  Episode two of PTJ’s Tastiest Life Possible is a tiny step closer to me achieving 4D goodness, thanks to a bunch of great people who respect me enough to give me their honest opinion.

This episode I’m taking you through a classic breakfast that too many of us buy from the store instead of making: Granola.  I’m definitely guilty of this too.  Sometimes we can’t help ourselves but give in to the convenience of ‘quick ‘n’ easy’, but it’s always much more satisfying (and usually much more delicious) if we try to make our own, while also keeping our minds at ease that no nasties are going into our bodies.  Hopefully I won’t have opened a can of worms with this recipe by saying that it’s ok to have chocolate for breakfast.  To be absolutely clear here, when I say chocolate, I am referring to the high quality, single origin, 85% cocoa kind, that is full of antioxidants, low in sugar, and goes wonderfully with pears.  By no means am I endorsing the act of adding commercially-made milk chocolate (that is all sugar and no goodness) to your morning fuel.  This would be a recipe for an afternoon sugar crash and a donut waistline.  If you give this a try, I promise you a weeks’ worth of delicious breakfasts that will have you looking forward to getting out of bed everyday, and you won’t have that ‘no time’ excuse to skip the best meal of the day anymore.

Part One:
Maple Pecan Granola.

You will need:
400g organic rolled oats
200g raw pecans, roughly chopped (check the packaging date to make sure you are buying the freshest packet)
a pinch of sea salt
a whole nutmeg for grating, or 1/2tsp ground nutmeg if you can’t get the whole kind
pure maple syrup
85g unsalted butter, melted (I prefer grass fed butter)

Preheat your oven to 180C.  Combine the oats, pecans, and sea salt in a large mixing bowl, then grate in some nutmeg.  Add the melted butter and mix well, followed by a dash of maple syrup.  Taste to see if you need more, this is up to you.   In a deep bottomed baking tray, line the bottom with some baking paper and pour in your oat mixture.  Spread it around the tray evenly and slide it into the oven.  Bake for 25mins, mix your oats around with a spatula, and return to bake for a further 20mins until golden brown.  Once cooked, take out of the oven and turn your oats (making sure you scrape the bottom of the pan) every 5mins until completely cool.  Doing this will stop your granola from sticking to your tray.  Once fully cooled, store your granola in an airtight container for up to a week.  Because I live in a humid country, I prefer to keep mine in the fridge.

Part Two:
Pan Fried Pears, Pearl Barley, Dark Chocolate, and Greek Yoghurt.

You will need:
2 large pears
unsalted butter for cooking
300ml cloudy apple juice
300ml water
apple cider vinegar
1/2 cup pearl barley, washed
100g dark chocolate, chopped into small pieces of similar size (I use one from a good chocolate producer that is minimum 85%)
Greek yoghurt to serve

Seed and quarter your pears and keep them in a bowl of water with a squeeze of lemon in it to stop the flesh from browning.  Combine the apple juice, water, barley, and a dash of apple cider vinegar in a saucepan, then place over a medium to high heat.  Keep the barley on a simmer until cooked to taste.  This will take about 15mins, and be careful that your liquid doesn’t boil over.  Meanwhile, melt a knob of butter in a large frypan on a medium to high heat.  Drain your pears and arrange onto the pan neatly so that each pear cooks evenly.  Once they brown on one side, flip them over to brown on the other, and when they are cooked, turn off your heat.  Drain the cooked barley in a sieve and leave them until you’re ready to plate up.  Place your chocolate in a glass bowl over a saucepan of simmering water, making sure that the bottom of your bowl doesn’t touch the water.  Stir often to melt the chocolate.

To serve, spoon some granola into your bowl or plate.  Place your pear quarters on top, sprinkle on some barley, and dollop on some yoghurt.  Last but not least, drizzle on your quality dark chocolate over the whole shebang and serve immediately.  This probably is how they do mornings in heaven.