Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Cereal Topping

I love Paul. And not only Paul, but Araucaria, Arachne, Tramp, Chifonie, and all the other great cryptic crossword setters. They regularly outfox me, but that makes me even more ardent in my devotion. It’s embarrassing to admit, but I take the crossword to bed every night and, like a faithful lover, carry it down the hall in the morning to continue my enjoyment over breakfast.

With such a start to the day, I need a little brain food. Having been on a diet largely devoid of gluten, sugar, fruit and dairy for some months now, I am experimenting with quick but sustaining breakfast options. I can find gluten free fruit free, or fruit free sugar free, or gluten free sugar free breakfast cereals – but a tasty cereal free from gluten, sugar or fruit? Well, it seems this combination is yet to come.

So I buy sugar free multi puffs (Australian sourced buckwheat, rice and sorghum) and to this fairly tasteless bowl of air (which, sadly, fails to snap crackle or pop) I add a heaping dessertspoon of my homemade nut and seed mix, drown the lot in rice milk, and hey presto! it suddenly becomes a tasty brekky, with enough protein to last me through the morning.

Good premixed cereal toppings are certainly available commercially. The advantage of making your own is that you can choose which seeds and nuts go into it; you can make your own choices regarding food miles and growing methods; and you can vary the proportions to taste. I have played with chia seeds (which produce a slightly gelatinous blob in the milk, not lovely), LSA (too dusty), various nut combinations and different spices. The recipe below is my favourite combination, heavy on the crunch and very very simple.

And while such breakfast fare may lack the sensuous decadence of a chocolate croissant, it’s certainly enough to solve a few clues of the cryptic crossword.

Cereal Topping

- 1 ½ cups almonds
- ½ cup brazil nuts
- ⅔ cup sunflower seeds
- ½ cup sesame seeds
- ¼ cup flax seeds (linseeds)

Chop the nuts roughly – you want them in chunks not itty bitty pieces. Don’t use a food processor as you’ll end up with meal.

Mix the nuts with the other ingredients, and store in an airtight container – that’s it!

The topping can be sprinkled over cereals, yogurt or fresh fruit; mixed with oats and turned into crumble; or used in anything else you can think of.

(Victoria: almonds. Australia not China: sunflower seeds, flax seeds. Mexico, dammit: sesame seeds. From many miles away but, if we believe the label, canopy grown and hand harvested, thus preserving both the rainforest and a traditional way of life: brazil nuts. Besides, they’re delicious.)

Cracking Cryptic Crosswords Puzzled: Secrets and Clues from a Life Lost in Words

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