Holidays never fail to render some nostalgia for holidays I have previously taken, as well as a strong desire to travel and explore more.
In my early twenties, I spent three months back packing through South East Asia. Two weeks of that was spent by myself in Malaysia (though I did meet some Irish backpackers toward the end of that period and spent the final days with them in Krabi, Thailand, before heading off to meet two of my close girlfriends who I spent the remaining weeks with, travelling up to Northern Thailand, across to the north of Laos, and back down south through to Cambodia before a final week in Thailand.
It was such an amazing experience, and though I have been on many holidays since, nothing quite compares to the feeling of freedom, adventure and unexpectedness that comes when you are travelling as opposed to going on a short-term holiday, knowing that in a few weeks you will be returning to your normal life.
These days my travelling style is quite different – I usually like to do quite a bit of research to work out where the best cafes and restaurants, shopping, and sites are in each area so that I am properly prepared when I arrive and can make the best use of my short time in a place.
A stark contrast to the rocking-up-and-winging-it approach of my backpacking days.
The standards have certainly changed too. I had just $1000 (AUD – roughly 400 GBP or 700 USD at the time) to live off for my three backpacking months and was therefore was living off a mere $30/day which included everything – accommodation, transport, food, entertainment, beer, shopping – even water.
We stayed in some interesting accommodation, including a few nights in Laos where four of us piled into two single beds to save on money, and another night when I was by myself when I was too scared to leave my little beach hut because some monkeys and a huge monitor lizard (think mini dinosaur) were staking out the front porch. Unfortunately for me, the wilderness adventure continued inside the hut as well, with mosquitos and one particularly large spider staring me down from across the small room, hence the urgency in wanting to leave.
One of the my favorite memories from travelling though is the food.
Always the food.
In my backpacking days, you would think that living off just $30 a day would mean that we ate very poorly, but the opposite was usually the case. In the countries we visited, it was possible to get fresh, delicious food from roadside carts for only a few dollars a serve. Pad Thai and curries with sticky rice in Thailand, fish amok and nom pang (baguettes) in Cambodia.
Breakfast too was usually eaten roadside, and my favorite would have to be fresh tropical fruit, homemade yoghurt and granola which we ate every morning for the few weeks we spent in Bangkok. The fruit was fresh, perfectly ripe and full of flavour. And obviously a little more exciting and exotic than what I was used to in Australia – dragon fruit, papaya, lychees and the most soft and dessert-like banana’s I’ve ever eaten. The yoghurt was thick, slightly tart and not sweetened – it didn’t need to be with the amazing fruit providing enough sweetness for the entire dish. And the granola was usually raw or slightly toasted and used as more of a garnish than the start attraction to the dish – this easily would have been the fruit.
It was possibly here that my love of this simple breakfast – seasonal fruit, natural yoghurt and granola – started. I eat some version of this a few days of the week at least. In summer, fruit plays more of a staring role, while in winter the oats are cooked and served warm, with the fruit being used purely to sweeten the dish (after my stash of frozen summer berries is used up that it).
This is my new favorite variation of granola. It also works well using zucchini instead of carrots if you prefer – aka zucchini bread granola.
Serve it with milk if you wish, or my favorite way – as a garnish over hot oats in winter or fresh fruit and yoghurt in summer.
- Dry ingredients:
- 2 cups rolled (old-fashioned) oats
- ½ cup almond meal
- 1 cup shredded coconut
- ½ cup pecans, roughly chopped
- ½ cup walnuts, roughly chopped
- 1 tsp cinnamon
- ½ tsp ground ginger
- ½ tsp nutmeg
- ½ tsp crushed cloves
- 1 large or 2 small carrots, peeled and grated
- Wet ingredients:
- ⅓ cup coconut oil
- ¼ cup maple syrup
- Preheat oven to 170 C || 340 F
- Wash and peel the carrots and then grate either using a box grater or using the fine grater attachment on a food processor - this will result in finer shreds of carrot which I prefer.
- Add the carrot with the other dry ingredients in a large bowl and mix well to combine.
- Add the coconut oil and maple syrup to a small saucepan over low heat and stir until melted together, and then stir through the dry ingredients.
- Pour the mixture into a lined baking tray and bake around 20 - 25 minutes. Stir after 15 minutes.
- Keep an eye on the granola especially during the last 5 - 10 minutes to make sure the edges do not burn.
- Once cooked, remove from oven and allow to cool completely on the tray.
- Transfer to a large air-tight container and keep stored for up to three weeks.