It sometimes takes being away from a familiar environment to be able critically analyse the positives and negatives of life; the rhythm of new places, new faces plus the added bonus of spending time with friends with an opportunity to see, watch and learn; every single day is new and exciting and once home, the spring cleaning can begin. While my diet is already a balance of healthy foods it does include some ‘naughties’ with Lindt milk chocolate and Mcvities digestive biscuits being a weak spot, but I’ve decided to spruce up the action with an increase in vegetable centric meals and a closer look at some of the claimed ‘superfoods’. Since arriving in France in 2001, there has been a massive increase of range of vegetables at the market; back then, the humble parsnip was a rarity, let alone rainbow coloured radishes and carrots but this doesn’t compare with the awesome range available in the U.S. and in particular, at Whole Foods…

What better starting point than with breakfast, the meal that sets up and energises the rest of the day; a bowl of mixed fruit topped with calcium rich fromage blanc and a sprinkle of granola. Admittedly, granola can be a concentrated supply of calories, but a batch of homemade lasts for several weeks and of course, you have control of the ingredients.

Oats with their soluble fiber are proven to have beneficial effects on cholesterol levels and blood sugar stabilization as well as supplying antioxidants and energy-producing vitamin B1 and phosphorus so combining with some carefully chosen super-ingredients provides a concentrated source of nutrients. Ingredients such as goji, inca, aronia and dried white mulberries, shredded unsweetened coconut, almonds, chia, linseed and pumpkin seeds are among my favourites but any combination of fruit, nuts and seeds can be used. Unlike muesli, granola is oven toasted, the oats tossed in honey though to keep everything bouncing healthy, these last ingredients have been reduced to a minimum…


The only quantities involved are for toasting the oats; preheat the oven to 160°C degrees then melt together 3tbsp honey (raw if possible) with 4tbsp. neutrally flavoured oil. Empty a 500g carton of oats into a large mixing bowl (I keep a washing up bowl specifically for mixing large quantities), pour over the honey mixture and mix to evenly coat; at this stage add a handful of shredded coconut, chopped almonds/hazelnuts, chia seeds, linseed, sunflower and pumpkin seeds so they can toast with the oats.


Pour into 2 baking trays and pop into the oven for 30 minutes, giving the mixture a quick stir and rotate the trays half way through cooking to ensure everything toasts evenly. Remove from the oven and tip back into the mixing bowl where the fun will begin, adding handfuls of your favourite dried fruits and berries until you have your ideal oat-nut-fruit balance. Pack into jars and voila, breakfast is (almost) ready.