It’s named Lizi’s, of course, and look – there on the back – is a picture of Lizi herself, telling the story of how her famous granola came to be. But there’s another person in this tale, who prefers to mostly take a back seat. That’s why it’s such a treat to feature him in our fantastic fishcakes recipe: meet the other half of Lizi’s, Dr Mick Shaw.
It was the 1990s – but forget the Spice Girls, Tony Blair or the remote possibility of football coming home – a lovely story was beginning in a little Oxfordshire B&B, where organic farmers Lizi and her husband Mick were trying out their delicious new toasted granola recipe on the guests.
The pair were already interested in healthy eating and were researching how glycemic load can affect our moods and energy. They were keen to create a breakfast that would keep blood sugar levels stable, so Mick went the extra mile and invested in the kind of kit used by diabetics, only he would be using it to test granola. With all the complex carbs and fibre in their recipe, it really gave shop-bought granolas a run for their money. What’s more, the response from guests was clear: “This granola tastes amazing! Why aren’t you bagging and selling it?!”
Mick understood, however, that moving from feeding guests great food to running a business in the tough world of retail wouldn’t be easy. “It was a tricky decision,” he says. “We needed capital so we had to sell the farm so we could pay for packaging and find ourselves bakers, and then start marketing our granola.
“We began with local health food shops and farmers’ markets, then we got lucky and a major retailer in London agreed to stock us.”
All the while, his knowledge of how blood sugar could be stabilised was making the brand stand out – in fact, Lizi’s was the first UK cereal to measure the glycemic load of its products. Even the granola’s lack of honey has been thought through – “The glycemic load of honey depends on where the bees have been collecting their pollen from,” Mick says. “So, initially for technical reasons, our products became vegan!”
It’s heartening to know, when you sit down to a delicious, healthy Lizi’s breakfast, that Dr Mick’s decades of thought and careful planning have gone into making granolas that are not just great tasting but also designed to work with your body as nature intended.