Breakfast for a modern Viking

Move over bacon and eggs; we’re serving up healthy breakfast the Nordic way

Photo: Laura Edwards /
courtesy of Mitchell Beazley
Full of healthful seeds and a pleasing texture, muesli or granola is a great way to start the day. The wonderful thing about granola and muesli is that the ingredients and flavors are variable and can be easily adjusted to reflect one’s personal tastes.

Daytona Strong
Taste of Norway Editor

For as often as we’re told that breakfast is the most important meal of the day, it seems to be commonly overlooked, bypassed in the rush to get out the door in the mornings. Even when we do take the time to fuel our bodies, I wonder how often we’re thinking about the food in light of our overall health.

As this issue’s special focus is health, our Taste of Norway section will share some recipes to inspire us all to eat well the Nordic way—specifically for breakfast.

In our first recipe, British food writer and cookbook author Diana Henry has come up with a toasted breakfast muesli with the classic Nordic ingredient rye, accented with hazelnuts, dried cranberries, and a variety of seeds. Excerpted from her lovely book A Change of Appetite, which has a handful of Scandinavian-inspired dishes scattered throughout, the recipe seems simple yet special.

From Henry’s muesli, we move onto two recipes from Nordic Light by Simon Bajada, a book we originally featured in our September 9, 2016, issue. Bajada, a Stockholm-based photographer and cookbook author, grew up in Australia and was introduced to Scandinavian food when he cooked in a Swedish restaurant years ago. In his first book, The New Nordic, you’ll find a scattering of traditional dishes mixed with what one could call modern Nordic recipes; in the latest release, he looked to raw, dairy-free, and vegetarian cooking as inspiration to make the recipes lighter, he said in an email interview last year. The book includes such recipes as venison, pickled chanterelles, and mustard rye crumble, which you can find excerpted in our September 2016 issue. Here, you’ll find his millet porridge, cardamom, cacao, and coconut, along with his oat, pear, and cardamom smoothie.

While we’re covering only breakfast here today, you can read more on the Nordic Diet in “The Nordic Diet: Eat like your ancestors” in our September 2016 food special issue. Our contributor Emily Vikre, of Vikre Distillery in Minnesota and who has a PhD in Food Policy and Applied Nutrition, examined the so-called Nordic Diet along with a look at what following such a regimen might look like on an ordinary day. No matter what health needs we each may have, I’ll say that for me, personally, with my Nordic tastes, the menu sounds pretty spectacular.

Toasty Rye Muesli with Hazelnuts & Dried Cranberries
Recipe excerpted from A Change of Appetite by Diana Henry, published by Mitchell Beazley 2014, RRP $34.99 hardcover.

This makes a change from regular muesli, but you can use the same basic quantities and substitute oats or quinoa flakes instead and use whatever nuts you like. I have to admit I do add a little brown sugar (1/2 tsp. per bowl) or a drizzle of maple syrup, but you do what you like. Or you could increase the quantity of dried fruit. Another nice touch—though it won’t be to everyone’s taste—is to add some toasted and crushed caraway seeds. Very Scandi.

The muesli can be eaten plain with cold milk or heated with milk as in this recipe.

100g (3 1/2 oz.) rye flakes
50g (1 3/4 oz.) spelt or barley flakes
100g (3 1/2 oz.) toasted malted wheat flakes
25g (1 oz.) wheat bran
20g (3/4 oz.) sesame seeds
50g (1 3/4 oz.) sunflower seeds
10g (1/4 oz.) hemp seeds
10g (1/4 oz.) linseeds
60g (2 oz.) unblanched hazelnuts
60g (2 oz.) dried cranberries or dried sour cherries
2 tbsps. raisins
2 tbsps. poppy seeds

to serve:
Greek yogurt & chopped 
fresh fruit (both optional)

Preheat the oven to 180°C / 350°F / gas mark 4. Put all the flakes, the bran, the sesame, sunflower, hemp, and linseeds into a roasting tin and spread them out. Bake for about 15 minutes, turning the contents over a couple of times. (You can also do this in a dry frying pan if you prefer, it just takes minutes. You’ll smell the toasty aroma.)

Roughly chop the hazelnuts and put them into a roasting tin too. Bake for about 4 minutes (you can also do these in a dry frying pan and in fact it’s easier to make sure they don’t burn that way).

Mix all the ingredients for the muesli together. You can store this in an airtight container for up to two weeks.

To cook, put 50g (1 3/4 oz.) of the muesli mix and 75ml (2 1/2 fl. oz.) milk per person into a saucepan. Heat until almost boiling, stir gently, then cover and leave to sit for five minutes so that the ingredients can soften.

Serve the muesli and milk and add yogurt and fresh fruit as well, if you want. I especially like blueberries with the rye flavor.

Makes about 500g (1 lb 2 oz.).

Millet Porridge, Cardamom, Cacao & Coconut
Recipe excerpted from Nordic Light by Simon Bajada, published by Hardie Grant Books 2016, RRP $39.99 hardcover.

Photo: Simon Bajada / courtesy of Hardie Grant Books
With cardamom, cacao powder, and coconut oil, who wouldn’t want a bowl of this millet porridge to start the day?

A great way to introduce more grains into your diet is through porridges. Porridges are to Scandinavians what fry-ups are to Englishmen. There are an endless amount of toppings and flavor combinations that can be used to vary your porridge. This bounty-inspired combination works well with any grain, though I particularly like it with millet.

250 g (9 oz. / 2 cups) millet flakes, rinsed
1/4 tsp. ground cardamom
2 tbsps. coconut oil
1 tsp. natural vanilla extract
2-4 tbsps. brown sugar or honey
2 tsps. cacao powder
500 ml (18 fl. oz. / 2 cups) coconut milk or oat milk
60 g (2 1/4 oz. / 1 cup) toasted coconut flakes
80 g (3 oz. / 2/3 cup) chopped toasted hazelnuts
2 tbsps. cacao nibs

Put the millet flakes, cardamom, coconut oil, vanilla extract, sugar, and cacao powder in a saucepan together with 1 liter (36 fl. oz. / 4 cups) of water. Bring to a simmer and cook for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally, or until all the liquid is absorbed.

Divide the porridge between bowls, pour over the milk, and top with the coconut flakes, hazelnuts, and cacao nibs.

Serves 4.

Oat, Pear & Cardamom Smoothie
Recipe excerpted from Nordic Light by Simon Bajada, published by Hardie Grant Books 2016, RRP $39.99 hardcover.

Photo: Simon Bajada / courtesy of Hardie Grant Books
No time for breakfast? No more excuses! This healthful breakfast option has just six ingredients, and all you have to do is blend it! (And don’t get us started on the flavors—oat, pear, and cardamom? Yes, please!)

I have a love–hate relationship with smoothies. The idea of people replacing meals that are full of different textures and flavors with drinks makes me squirm—yet a cold sweet-and-sour fruit smoothie in the morning can be hard to beat.

Frozen fruit gives smoothies a nice coldness without requiring ice and helps make use of over-ripe fruit that’s on the way out. Bananas are often used and are great for this, but why not experiment with other fruits to see what you can come up with? Smoothies are also the perfect vehicle for natural nutrient powders, so feel free to add a teaspoon here or there if you are so inclined.

500 ml (18 fl. oz. / 2 cups) oat milk
2 pears, cored, peeled, and frozen
6 cardamom pods, seeds extracted and crushed
100 g (3 1/2 oz.) plain yogurt
2 tsps. honey
2 tsps. bee pollen

Chuck all the ingredients except the bee pollen into a blender and blend away. Pour into glasses and sprinkle over the bee pollen to serve.

Serves 2.

Daytona Strong is The Norwegian American’s Taste of Norway editor. She writes about her family’s Norwegian heritage through the lens of food at her Scandinavian food blog, Find her on Facebook; Twitter @daytonastrong; Pinterest @daytonastrong; and Instagram @daytonastrong.

This article originally appeared in the March 24, 2017, issue of The Norwegian American. To subscribe, visit SUBSCRIBE or call us at (206) 784-4617.

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