Coach Wendy J's Granola with Haskap Berries

Early one morning last summer, I arrived at Coach Wendy J's house a little behind schedule. 'Did you eat breakfast?', she asked. 'No', I said, 'I ran out of time'.

'Would you like a bowl of homemade granola?', she asked.

Normally I would politely decline without even really thinking about it, but this particular morning I instead took the time to process the question, and realized that YES, I actually WOULD like a bowl of homemade granola.

It was crunchy, sweet and nutty, and topped off with a dollop of plain yogurt. Suddenly, the store-bought cereal I'd been eating my entire life had lost it's lustre. I obsessed over that granola for the next few days.

I eventually e-mailed Wendy and asked if I could have the recipe. She kindly said yes and I have been making a fresh batch every Saturday morning since.

Each week I change it up - use different nuts, different seeds, different dried fruit, sometimes I add coconut, sometimes I don't. When I received an e-mail from Madeleine Bradette from LaHave Natural Farms, asking if I'd be interested in trying samples of their Haskap berries and 'Haskapa' branded Haskap juice I knew the berries would be a perfect fit in my Saturday morning ritual. The berries, native to Japan, are dried and lightly sweetened and known as 'nature's little present at the end of the branch'. 

From www.haskapa.com - 'The haskap, a member of the honeysuckle family, was first introduced to Canada around 1967, and is sometimes known as 'edible blue honeysuckle', 'honeyberry', 'sweetberry' and 'haskap'. The berry is grown on the island of Hokkaido, Japan, and was named 'hasukappu' by the indigenous Ainu. Haskap are high in anthocyanins, vitamin C, phenolic compounds and other antioxidants. They have been used to reduce blood pressure and relieve gastrointestinal disorders, and there are reports of curative effects when used on malaria. Haskap also contain traces of selenium, the element said in Japanese folklore to restore youth. It is a small oval berry, often likened in shape to an elongated blueberry about 1 inch long. The skin of a haskap is dark blue with an intense crimson flesh. It has very small, almost imperceptible seeds. The juice of the berry has a naturally high brix factor (natural sugar content) and colours almost anything it is combined with to a dark burgundy. The taste of the haskap berry is unique and has been compared to a combination of blueberry and raspberry with a hint of elderberry.'

From www.lahaveforests.com - Today, in Blockhouse, Nova Scotia, just outside of Mahone Bay, we have over 40 acres of Haskap orchards with another 20 acres planned for this year. We intend to bring the first and tastiest haskap juice to the North American and British markets this year under the Haskapa brand. 

I always halve Wendy's recipe - I find it to be the perfect amount because by the time it runs out, I'm ready to make a new batch with new flavours. I eat it every morning, usually with a dollop of thick Greek yogurt but sometimes with milk like a bowl of regular cereal. I also like to keep small containers of it in my purse and my camera bag for snacking when I'm out and about and don't have time to eat. Here is my most favourite version - I hope you like it!

Coach Wendy J's Granola

2 Cups large flake rolled oats

1 C slivered almonds

1/2 Cup raw sunflower seeds

1/2 Cup sesame seeds

1/2 Cup medium shredded unsweetened coconut

1/2 Cup honey***

1/4 Cup sesame oil

1 Cup Haskap berries

- Preheat oven to 340 - line a 9x13 oven-safe baking dish with parchment paper

- in a large bowl, mix oats, nuts, seeds and coconut - add honey and sesame oil and mix well

- place in baking dish and cook 30 minutes (or until lightly golden), stirring halfway

- remove from oven and stir in Haskap berries - cool and store in a large container with a lid

* Recipe shared with permission from Coach Wendy J.

** Play around with the kind of nuts, seeds and dried fruit you use to create your own variations. I do highly recommend sticking with the honey/sesame oil mix - it's awesome.

***I prefer to use Cosman and Whidden Honey made right here in Nova Scotia. Where the big-brand honey in the little bear tastes like sugar, Cosman and Whidden honey tastes like flowers and sunshine.

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