Rice malt syrup – ever heard of it? You will. Sarah Wilson of I Quit Sugar fame swears by the stuff. And now I know why.
In fairness, this sweetener is flipping good. Think of a malted milkshake that hits the spot without being too saccharine or sweet. That’s rice malt syrup.
But calm down, it ain’t no superfood! (BTW, I’ve bags’d that for my epitaph). Rice malt syrup is a more wholesome sugar than most, and escapes the modern evils of fructose. What’s so bad about fructose? Little, really. Unless you regularly neck the dumbed-up version found in sodas and a whole lot of junk foods. This is called high fructose corn syrup (HFCS).
Fructose, itself, is a naturally occurring sugar found in fruit and some veg. In its natural state, fructose is found in small amounts within a coalition of minerals and fibre contained within that piece of fruit. Ah! But when fructose is artificially concentrated, and in isolation of other nutrients, our body treats it quite differently.
Glucose is metabolised by every cell in the body, says endocrinologist Dr Robert Lustig. Fructose, however, can only be metabolised by the liver.
Too much fructose in a concentrated, isolated form has been shown to substantially burden the liver. So if you’ve been horsing into high-fructose agave, it might be time to make friends with a new sweetener. Let me help you do exactly that.
Enough for several weeks worth of breakfast
The number of expensive granolas to choose from in our supermarkets is unprecedented in Irish history. Trust me – you can make a much better one for a fraction of the price at home. This one has three different grains, making it a complete protein by virtue of its amino acid permutation. That’s benchpresser speak for “highfive”. Sporty teens will go mental for it.
- 125ml (½ cup) rice malt syrup or barley malt syrup or maple
- 125mll (1/2 cup) extra virgin coconut oil
- 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 150g oat flakes
- 150g barley flakes (or use more oats)
- 150g whole buckwheat grouts (not flakes)
- Up to 1 cup of hazelnuts
- 4 tablespoons raw cacao nibs (optional)
- Pinch of flaky sea salt
- 200g dried dates
- 100g dark chocolate, like Green & Blacks cooking chocolate
Fire up your oven to 160 Celsius, gas mark 3.
Line your largest tray with parchment, or use two smaller trays.
In your biggest pot, melt the coconut oil, your syrup, vanilla and cinnamon over a timid heat. Turn off the heat.
Now tumble in the remaining ingredients, all except for the dates and dark chocolate. Scrape the contents of the pan out over your lined tray(s).
Bake for 22 minutes. Allow the ‘Grainola’ to cool completely before stirring through the chopped dates and glorious chunks of chocolate. Store in a tall glass jar on the kitchen counter. This is magnificent stuff with ice-cold milk.