So it’s a beautiful Sunday. Blue skies, still air, gentle warmth from the winter sun. Miss B was reading (she’s discovered Harry Potter!) and Little Miss was bored and wanted to do some baking. I was up to my neck in business paperwork (blah!), so any excuse to escape the office, is a good one!
I needed to make some tweets that the grumkies could take to school for recess – so I wanted them to be nut free, low GI to keep their little engines chugging along until lunchtime, and yummily healthy so that they’ll enjoy eating while getting the benefits of the seeds. Also, I needed to use up the assortment of jars of honey lurking at the back of my cupboard. Why is it that nobody finishes a jar of honey? I had 3 jars of Manuka honey which were either ¼ or 1/3 full, and a half-full jar of bush honey that I’d bought while visiting the folks down in the Huon Valley.
I then turned my attention to the cupboard. What to glue together with the honey? Well….that’s kinda a no-brainer – bird seed, of course! But, wait, I do have my reasons!
Millet – because it’s so high in a number of necessary body functioning minerals, which support in healthy heart function, reduce the risk of diabetes, can prevent the formation of gallstones and certain cancers, help repair tissues, and is uber high in fibre. Gotta love millet!
Buckwheat – because it’s one of our super bird seed grains that is very high in essential minerals and is a complete protein – great choice for vegetarians and vegans! It’s also very high in rutin which is great for blood vessel health and is known to help stabilise blood sugar. Go you good thing!
Pepitas – because they’re a great source of zinc and are brimming with anti-oxidant rich Vitamin Es.
Sunflower Seeds – because they’re also another giver of Vitamin E which is a must to prevent and combat a number of health issues. They are an excellent source of phytosterols which are known to lower cholesterol.
Org, preservative free Coconut – because it tastes yummy! And it’s extra good for your hair and skin ,is high in essential minerals and dietary fibre. But really, it tastes so yummy – do you need another reason to include it?
Cinnamon and Ginger – because it’s winter and we’re in cold combat mode. So these anti-viral little beauties will help with this!
Rice flakes – I’m not a big fan of white rice and think that perhaps they won’t offer that much in the way of nutritional health – but….they do have a nice in mouth-feel and will help to bring all the components of these clusters together. Plus, Little Miss demanded that we use them, and well… this is a team effort!
Dark Honey – because honey is a super anti-microbial and so good for so many reasons, not least of which for its anti-viral, anti-bacterial, anti-anti-anti-anti-illness. But NOT anti-health, taste and sweetness. If you’ve gonna eat something sweet then choose a sweetener that offers more than just a sugar rush! Honey ticks this box and more. Plus, it’s gunna stick out seedy clusters together. Remember – the darker the honey, the higher its anti-microbial properties.
So that’s the low-down on why I’ve selected these little beauties for the seedy clusters. Now what to do…it’s too easy, peeps.
I decided to toast and pop the millet – just because I didn’t it want to be too hard on the ol’ teeth in the final cluster. So I threw them into a pan and kept them moving while they cracked and popped and started to colour up a bit. (Oh, I guess, I had them on the heat for around 3 minutes. I could have gone longer and I love the snap, crackle, pop of roasting millet seed, but I didn’t want them to burn). While you’re toasting the millet, warm the honey (in a pot or in the microwave or sit the jar in some hot water) a little to make it all free-flowy.
Once the millet was popped and browned, Little Miss transferred all the seeds into a bowl and poured the warmed the honey on top. We put the lid on the container and shake it up, baby. Shake it! Shake it! Shake, shake, shake! That’s it! Done!
Heap spoonfuls onto baking paper trays.
(If you’re a bit OCD like me, you can wet your fingers with H2O or oil and form the clusters into well composed rounds. If you don’t really care, then…more power to ya!)
Put into a low oven (approx. 140oC) for around 20 – 25mins. The longer you leave ‘em the crunchier they’ll be. If you want them softer and chewier – you can add a little oil or butter to the honey mix.
Allow them to cool on the trays and store in air-tight jars or containers. Great in lunch boxes, great in yoghurt, great with a crunchy apple or pear, great in porridge, great with cheese. Just great, really!
You can use/substitute pretty much any combination of seeds. Add nuts if you don’t have to follow nut-free policy. Maple syrup or raw coconut syrup would be lovely vegan options instead of honey and you’ll still be making a superior sugar choice. The combinations are only limited by your pantry and whether or not you can be bothered to go out for something else. Dried fruit is good – but it can dry out a little in the oven if you bake the cluster for too long. Fat raisins or cranberries are good. If you think you’ll need to include something to tempt your little ones – you can include some choc bits – but go easy. NAS carob might be preferable choice.
Basically – how long is a piece of string? Well, that’s how many combinations you can create when you make seedy clusters! Post your creations on our FB page and post your comments/recommendations on the website. We can all learn so much from each other! Thanks for reading. Tweet peeps.
Seedy Clusters #1 Recipe basics:
½ cup raw millet seeds – popped and dry toasted in a frypan
½ cup raw buckwheat grouts
½ cup raw sunflower seeds (you can dry roast these too – brings out the flavours. Is especially good if your seeds are a bit old and need reviving)
½ cup raw pepitas
½ cup coconut (use preservative free if you can get it)
1 ½ cup THIN rice flakes (do not choose the thick rice flakes or your clusters will be hard and yucky. You can get THIN flakes from Indian or Asian grocery stores. They’ll know what you mean when you say you need the THIN flakes as they classify them as think, medium or thin)
2 tsp gr cinnamon
1 tsp gr ginger
Between 1 – 1 ½ cups of honey.
Mix everything together. Add your sweetening glue (honey or maple syrup, etc). Place spoonfuls of your seedy clusters onto baking papered trays. Cook in a slow oven (140oC) for around 20 mins. Allow to cool on trays. Store in an air-tight container. Enjoy! J