The sun is out (at least for now) and the Crail Food Festival is quickly approaching. In case you’re not familiar, the three-day event showcases businesses from around Scotland and beyond. It’s an opportunity to celebrate as a community and indulge in the bounty this land has to offer. It’s also a chance to meet passionate people actively elevating the local food scene. One of those people is Debbie Riley of The Good Granola Company. You didn’t meet her at last year’s festival because back then her business was just a dream. This year she’s taken on the not-so-small task of building a business from the ground up. Her mission? To fuel people’s adventurous lifestyles, one homemade batch of granola at a time, and believe me, she’s more than qualified.
Debbie is a hobby cook with a big appetite for the outdoors. When she’s not busy at her day job or hiking Scotland’s breathtaking peaks with her husband, she’s at home lovingly toasting oats with the hopes that people will fall in love with granola the way she has. She and I were paired up for the Crail Food Fest blog series and our partnership could not have been more perfect.
Eating well is very important to me but I am very busy and don’t always take the time to properly cook for myself. It’s challenging to carve out time for creative writing and exercise on top of keeping up with two toddlers and maintaining some semblance of sanity. Healthy snacks and quick breakfasts are staples in our household.
After a curious exploration of The Good Granola Company site I was eager to meet Debbie and hear about her entrepreneurial adventure. When she asked for my address so she could send me granola, my hungry heart skipped a beat.
After receiving my enormous parcel and completely devouring the samples, she and I connected for an interview. Why granola?
My husband and I lead a very active lifestyle. We both work hard and have lots of sporting hobbies, the main one being mountaineering. We tend to travel a lot. I think lots of people are in the same situation these days, where they are trying to juggle different priorities and generally find themselves busy a lot of the time. I tried granola from the supermarkets before but wasn’t overly impressed. Then on a family trip my mum brought along her homemade granola and I absolutely loved it! I find it perfect for my busy lifestyle because it provides a good fuel while still being nutritious, tasty and interesting to eat.
Tell me something I likely do not know about your granola.
Unlike a lot of other cereal products, my base mixture only contains natural sweeteners: apple juice, honey and dried fruits. The apple juice and honey are mixed with dried jumbo oats and then baked at a low temperature which gives the oats a nice crunchy texture. I also have one variety that has some chocolate chips added, for those with a sweet tooth.
Granola is a versatile staple and I see you’ve got lots of recipes on your blog. What is your favourite way to enjoy your product?
You’re right. One of the big appeals of granola its versatility. It’s traditionally considered to be a breakfast food, eaten with milk or yoghurt, but I’ve managed to incorporate it into just about every meal. I am a big fan of bircher muesli and I made a passionfruit mango version with granola which turned out really well, giving it a bit of extra crunch. I also love it in a parfait, which is granola mixed with yoghurt and a fruit compote of some variety. I have a parfait recipe online using homemade lemon curd which my husband adored. That made a really nice dessert. There is also a banana and date oat smoothie on there that I am very fond of. You can find all my recipes on the company blog.
The granola in the purple packaging – banana cashew was it? It disappeared in no time. I even had a hard time taking a photo of it with my hungry daughter in the room. What makes it so delectably addictive?
Haha! I’m so glad to hear that! It is a very popular choice. I’ve tried to go with slightly less standard combinations. I love both banana and cashews and they seemed a good match. The coconut gives it a slightly more tropical taste which is always nice when our weather is far from tropical. One thing that I’ve really focussed on is having a lot of the stated flavour in my final product. All four flavours that I currently offer have less than 50% oats, meaning lots of fruit, nuts and seeds in each bite. People should be able to decipher the flavour simply by looking inside the packet. If it says ‘banana, cashew and coconut’ on the outside, I want you to be able to find lots of those ingredients inside. (Check out the other flavours on the online shop )
What is The Good Granola Company’s legacy going to be?
I want my granola to make people jump out of bed in the morning. I want it to excite and inspire them to do more with their day. The business is still in the early days and I have loads of ideas for the future but for now I am looking forward to sharing my granola with a new audience at the festival.
This year will be your first at the festival. What are you most excited about?
The massive buzz and vibrant atmosphere! I’ve seen the event programme and list of exhibitors and it looks like we’re in for a real treat. It’s the first time I’ll be exhibiting at such a sizeable event. I’ve visited similar events and always have a great time browsing stalls and discovering new products. It is an honour to have my own stall and contribute to the Crail Food Festival’s success in a small way. The prospect that people might discover my granola as their new favourite product is super exciting.
Who are you looking forward to meeting?
Everyone! Everyone is welcome to visit my stall, from die-hard granola fans to those who have never heard of granola, let alone tasted it. I like to think that being a small business owner means being approachable so please stop by. I love to hear about other people’s daily adventures – I believe we each have a good story to tell. I’m looking forward to meeting all of you.
Just out of curiosity, what would your last meal on earth be and why?
It would have to be that passionfruit and mango bircher I mentioned earlier because it’s all my favourite foods in one dish. Oh, and I’d want a really nice cup of coffee on the side. I am very partial to good coffee! Great question. What would yours be? Ha! Something far less healthy. I fear I am ashamed to put it in print.
Moving on, what’s the next adventure for The Good Granola Company?
We just got the online store fully operational so we can keep people stocked up after the festival by delivering granola straight to their door. Later in the year there will be some seasonal flavours on offer. I would also like to work towards accommodating different dietary requirements and I have a few mountain trips planned to help feed my insatiable love of the outdoors. It’s the perfect way to test my product.
Debbie will be at the festival on Sunday 14 June 2015. You’ll find her at the indoor market. Be sure to swing by her stall and enjoy a taste of her granola. She promises to have plenty of the banana cashew flavour (and all the others) on hand. Get there before my daughter eats it all.
The Good Granola Company
Elissa Joy Watts