This is my simple recipe for a delicious reduced sugar granola. You’ve heard me talk about the benefits of a good breakfast before and I really can’t repeat it enough. Often the foods that are most convenient are the ones that are full of additives, sugar and preservatives. We don’t want those in our bodies but often a lack of time means that we are reaching for the sugary cereals even when we know we shouldn’t. Make up a big batch of this granola when you have a spare hour and keep it in a plastic tuppawear and you’ll always have the freshest cereal on hand, free from junk and ready to eat in moments.
This granola contains lots of super healthy ingredients; whole grains, coconut oil and lovely seeds to feed our minds and our body. Eat with creamy Greek yogurt and berries for an excellent start to the day that you can chuck in a container and take to work, eat on the train or enjoy in the luxury of your own home- there really is no excuse!
This week is mental health awareness week. Since the year 2000 this campaign has helped increase conversation and awareness of mental health issues in an effort to break the stigma surrounding them. It’s a brilliant campaign and I urge you to have a look at their website and send a link to a friend. Lets get talking about mental health and sharing stories with others not just this week but as much as we can!
Knowledge and acceptance are key when trying to manage any mental health issue. It’s been about three and a half years since I hit rock bottom and subsequently started my road to recovery and it’s taken until now for me to be in a position to confidently say that I able to manage my anxiety. It’s no coincidence that it’s also now I have the most knowledge and acceptance of anxiety too.
While it would be wrong to say that the last three years have been a constant struggle because they have been filled with short periods of stability, they’ve also been incredibly tough for me and those who care about me. With better general education surrounding mental health and less stigma attached to it I truly believe that the road to recovery would have been greatly improved. If only I’d felt comfortable talking about it with others I would have found out that I was far from alone in my symptoms and those around me would have had a better understanding of my behaviour.
I also believe that if in the many more years before my diagnosis I’d known that these thoughts and feelings weren’t something I had to try and cope with alone and that help was out there, my life could have been dramatically improved. During this time I, like many other undiagnosed mental health sufferers, developed some very unhealthy coping mechanisms in order to try and escape from my anxious mind. Ultimately the affects of these made getting better a lot more difficult.
Instead of feeling brave enough to be honest about how I was feeling, or having an opportunity to speak with others going through similar situations I believed there was something very wrong with me. I had incredibly low self-esteem, wasn’t able to identify that the negative thoughts and feelings weren’t reality and felt guilty and ashamed. How could I tell anyone without being judged? On the surface I was remarkably lucky and fortunate, I was healthy had a loving family it didn’t make sense to me why I was struggling so much. Instead of asking my family for help I pretended I was fine, I was living away from home in London so it was easy to do. Turning to alcohol, avoiding food and throwing myself into a very negative and controlling relationship only furthered my anxiety and low self-esteem.
This is what breaking the stigma surrounding mental health is all about. We need to stop others following this very negative path, you don’t need to hit rock bottom before getting better. It’s not about attention seeking, saying look at me I have anxiety – poor me, but it’s about accepting that one in four of us will suffer with mental health symptoms at some point in their lives and we need to talk about it. If we sweep it under the carpet and alienate those who suffer they will get worse. Anxiety is manageable, it really is! I wouldn’t have said those words a year ago but I say them now with absolute conviction.
You will need to make changes to your life, you may have to cut out certain negative people, behaviours or habits and learn to really get to know your mind and body. You need to learn what your anxiety triggers are and also find out the things that make you feel good and adapt your life accordingly. I have made so many changes over the past 4 years I could write a book about them. I’ll explore these in other blogs but if I can do it then you can too, trust me I’m an anxiety sufferer. Albert Einstein famously said that the definition of insanity is:
“Doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results”
I couldn’t agree more. Suffering with mental health issues doesn’t make you crazy, mad or insane but not making changes to your life and hoping for the problems to disappear does. A good diet, less alcohol, exercise, lots of fresh air and proper sleep are key pillars in managing my anxiety.
So this week I urge you to have a conversation about mental health, or even just ask someone how he or she is and really listen to the answer. Be extra kind, be positive and encouraging and you really never know whose day you could make bearable.
Homemade Lower Sugar Granola
Makes about 15 servings
450g mixed whole grains – I used oats, rye and barley (Holland & Barrett do a good selection)
100g seeds, I used Holland & Barrett Oh My Omega Mix as Omega is so good for mental health.
100g flaked or ground nuts, I used dedicated coconut and ground almonds, if you don’t eat nuts use extra seeds or grains.
150g puffed rice
75g maple syrup
75g coconut oil
2 tsp vanilla bean paste or extract
300g no added sugar apple juice
Heat oven to 200C/180C fan/gas 6. Put the coconut oil, maple syrup, agave and vanilla into a saucepan with the apple juice, bring to the boil and then simmer for 10 minutes. Tip the whole grains, seeds, nuts and puffed rice into a large bowl then pour on the liquid and quickly toss to mix together so everything is evenly coate
Line three large trays with non-stick baking parchment and divide the granola between them. Spread out into an even layer. Bake for 35 minutes, you must take it out and re spread it out a few times during the cooking time or the edges will catch, remove and leave to cool on the tray, it will crisp up as it cools, before storing in an airtight container for up to 1 month