The Granola Buffet

three bowls of granola with the following flavours - cranberry matcha, peanut butter and chocolate and spiced
Top Left to Right: Cranberry Matcha Granola, Peanut Butter and Chocolate Granola and Spiced Granola

I now feast on granola almost every day and, on some days, throughout the day! It is so versatile. The versatility not only relates to what can go into the mixture but also extends to how to eat it.  Granola can be served as a cereal, a tasty and crunchy topping on fruit and yoghurt or just by the handful as a healthy snack. The latter method has become my personal favourite! 

This has not always been the case and up until I started making my own granola, I never touched it. This was because the commercially bought products can be loaded with sugars, unnecessary high-saturated oils and even contain fillers such as soy protein isolate, inulin (a soluble fiber that can cause digestive problems), and other suspect ingredients.

The benefits of granola is that the main ingredient is oats which boast impressive numbers in fiber and iron. Other ingredients such as nuts and seeds add heart-healthy unsaturated fats and some protein. By making your own granola, you decide exactly what goes into the mixture and control the type and amount of sugars, oil and ultimately final calorie content.

Granola is quick and easy to make and very forgiving by allowing the mixing of many different ingredients to suit personal preferences and desired calories. The main dry ingredients are 2.5 cups (200g) Rolled Oats and ½ tsp salt. The key wet ingredients include 3 TBS of melted coconut oil and ¼ cup of maple syrup.  Other tasty additions to the wet ingredients can include about ¼ cup of Tahini, peanut butter or any nut butter.

What else to include in the granola buffet is up to you:

Nuts and Seeds:

Any combination of nuts and seeds, usually about ½ cup per ingredient and 1 – 1½ cups in total, such as:

  • slivered almonds, hazelnuts, brazil nuts, pecans, cashews, pistachios
  • pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds, sesame seeds
  • buckwheat groats (adds an amazing crunch)


This list is endless and only limited by your imagination and personal tastes:

  • vanilla extract, cacoa powder, cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, matcha tea powder, grated orange and lemon rind, grated or ground ginger

Post-Cooking Additions:

The following treats can be added before cooking but make sure not to overcook otherwise the dried fruit can become inedible:

  • shredded coconut, raisins, currents, sultanas, dried mango, dried cherries, dried blueberries

Once you have made your selections and given the mixture a good stir, it can be spread out on parchment paper on a large baking sheet and cooked at 350°C (175°F) for about 15-20 minutes, stirring halfway through.  Once cooled, the granola can be stored in airtight containers at room temperature for up to four weeks.  I have also tried freezing it and this has worked well for me.

three jars of granola with the following flavours - cranberry matcha, peanut butter and chocolate and spiced
Left to Right: Spiced Granola, Cranberry Matcha Granola and Chocolate and Peanut Butter Granola

Having started experimenting with my own granola about a year ago, I have now found 3 basic recipes (photographed above) that have become my go to.  The actual recipes originated from Jean-Philippe Cyr’s cookbook, The Buddhist Chef: 100 Simple, Feel-Good Vegan Recipes.

Check out the The Buddhist Chef and more sites on the Resources page.

Ideas to Start your Whole Foods Plant-Based Recipe Collection!

Image by silviarita from Pixabay

With an abundance of whole food plant-based recipes (WFPB) available, I have selected some of my favourites to share:

Deliciously Ella

Founded in the UK by Ella Mills, Deliciously Ella contains a selection of recipes with more to be found on the App. The App contains over 400 WFPB recipes, some instructional videos and step-by-step images. It is available by subscription and also has a meal planner, shopping list, as well as yoga and meditation instruction. Deliciously Ella has a number of cookbooks.

Oh She Glows

Founded in the USA by Angela Liddon, Oh She Glows is a recipe blog in which Angela “celebrates her love for plant-based food”. In addition to being meat and dairy-free, most of the recipes are free of gluten, soy, and processed foods. Oh She Glows also has a recipe App, at a nominal cost, as well as a number of cookbooks.

The Happy Pair

Founded by twins from Ireland, Dave and Steve Flynn, created this site which contains an array of hearty WFPB recipes. The site is much more than just recipes and one of the goals of the twins is to build a community “around health and happiness”. I am not aware of an App but The Happy Pear does offer courses, shop products, cafes and cookbooks.

Green Kitchen Stories

Founded by David and Luise, who live in Sweden with their family, this site offers a range of vegetarian recipes, including a vegan section. Green Kitchen Stories is about “healthy vegetarian recipes using whole food and organic products” with an aim for the recipes “to be as simple and pure as possible”. There are two recipe Apps available, at a nominal cost, as well as a number of cookbooks.

To access these sites and more, please see

Curious about Whole Foods Plant-Based Eating?

Image by M4rtine from Pixabay

One of my early introductions to whole foods plant-based (WFPB) eating was through a documentary on Netflix entitled Forks and Knives. The film, created by Brian Wendell and first released in 2011, explores the premise of food as medicine and suggests that by changing our nutrition, it can be a powerful way to live longer, help the environment, and reduce the risk of getting sick.

The documentary follows the personal journeys of Dr. T. Colin Campbell, a nutritional biochemist from Cornell University, and Dr. Caldwell Esselstyn, a former top surgeon at the world-renowned Cleveland Clinic.  

Dr. Campbell at the T. Colin Campbell Centre for Nutrition describes WFPB eating as eliminating the “diet” label and thinking of it more as a “lifestyle” choice. He further suggests that is not about eating restrictive and complicated meal plans, deprivation, binging and guilt but simply a “return to whole foods, rich flavors, and natural health.”

What can I eat?

In a nutshell: whole (minimally processed), unrefined, plant-based foods:

In abundance

  • Fruit
  • Vegetables
  • Tubers and starchy vegetables
  • Whole grains
  • Legumes
  • Greens
  • Omega 3 rich seeds
  • Spices

In Moderation:

  • whole nuts
  • seeds (except omega 3 sources)
  • coconut and avocado
  • dried fruit
  • natural sweeteners
  • tempeh and tofu
  • whole grain flours and breads
  • plant-based milks

Avoid or Minimize:

  • meat, poultry and seafood
  • dairy products
  • eggs
  • refined sweeteners
  • refined grains
  • refined sugars
  • bleached flours and white bread, pasta and rice

What are the benefits?

The proposed benefits of this type of WFPB lifestyle can be significant and may include:

  • Weight management: reduces need to count calories since plant based foods tend to contain mostly fiber and water creating a feeling of fullness while consuming few calories
  • Disease prevention: may lower the risk of some cancers and prevent, halt, or even reverse chronic diseases, including heart disease and type 2 diabetes
  • Lighter environmental footprint: reduces stress on the environment

Will I need Supplements?

The main essential nutrient missing from a WFPB diet is B12.  Although this can be found in some fortified foods such as plant-based milks, the best source is a B12 supplement.

What is the difference between a WFPB Diet and a Vegan Diet?

The main difference between a WFPB and a vegan diet is that a vegan diet avoids all forms of animal products or exploitation, however, it is not necessarily a diet that focuses on whole plant foods. It may include refined and processed foods whereas WFPB eliminates or minimizes these as well as animal products.

How do I get Started?

If contemplating a WFPB lifestyle, check out Dr. T. Colin Campbell’s  Three-Day Meal Plan for some ideas on what your meals might look like!

To access these sites and more, please see

“Does the Mummy mind?”

Image by David Mark from Pixabay

“Does the Mummy mind?”

My four-year old nephew understood that meat came from animals and posed this question in response to being told that the family were having beef for dinner. It is a poignant question and not one with an easy answer.  

My nephew has been a vegetarian by choice his entire life. As an adult, I only ate meat occasionally, however, was raised on the notion that meat and dairy were part of a healthy balanced diet.  It has only been in recent years, that I have started to question this premise and take a greater interest in the food I eat.

In addition, I have often struggled to maintain a balance with food in relation to what might be considered healthy and the pleasure of a treat. Having explored many different diets over the years, deprivation always seemed to be the underlying premise of them all.

My first insight into the whole foods plant-based concept was through Deliciously Ella. From there, I came across Kris Carr who followed a similar diet after being diagnosed with inoperable cancer.  If the diet was considered healthy for someone with cancer, then I felt it should do well for me!

Little did I know that within a few months I would receive my own cancer diagnosis: Renal Cell Carcinoma.  Fortunately it was discovered at an early stage and after a partial nephrectomy I was given the all clear.  Wake up calls can come in many forms and for me, the adage “we are what we eat” began to ring true.

Since then, I have explored the world of whole foods, plant-based eating from many mediums including blogs, books, documentaries and articles. I find it a fascinating topic and the more information I gather, the more I am convinced this choice benefits not only my own health but also the health of the environment and planet.

For the first time in my life, I feel I have struck a balance and can honestly say I have never eaten so well. My goal with the Dragon’s Picnic is to share what I learn along the way and, even if it helps only one other person to break the diet cycle and discover an enjoyable and healthy alternative to traditional eating, it will serve its purpose.

In closing, we will probably never really know if the Mummy minds, but perhaps the question today is for each of us to ask ourselves, “how much do we mind”?

(This post can also be found in About)