Chocolate and banana granola clumps

Let’s start this post with a quiz. Name for me a breakfast food that one might consider ‘healthy’?

I’ll give you a few seconds to think about it…

Was granola one of the first ideas to come to mind? A deep bowl of fat free yogurt, chopped fresh fruit, and a generous smattering of granola. Not forgetting the drizzle of runny honey.

I’m not going to get into the debate here of clean vs dirty. Healthy v unhealthy. As is there really an unhealthy food? A slice of cake someone may think of as unhealthy however when you take a look at your diet as a whole if it’s sandwiched in between lots of vegetables, fruits, whole grains and legumes, surely that constitutes as a balanced diet? Kale and quinoa may be ‘healthy’ but if they don’t make you happy, are we living as well as we think. Cake, cookies, brownies and the sweeter things in life are as necessary as kale. That is fact.

Back to the granola, I’m sure there are many brands we grew up eating or still tip into our bowls each and every morning. Maybe you only bought some boxes believing they were healthy, perhaps better than your favourite Cornflakes, but didn’t really take any pleasure from eating them. Words such as natural, free from refined sugars, organic, low fat, whole, all suck us in to the belief that we are making the right choices. Go and take a closer look at almost any box of granola on the supermarket shelves. Take a real close look. HINT, look at the sugar content.

I know I’ve mentioned before about my thoughts on sugar. I’m not a nutritionist, a dietitian or anyone who has the scientific plain facts, so I suppose what I say should be taken with a pinch of salt. Nonetheless, it’s evident that as a nation we consume far too much of the sweet stuff. I’m not just talking caster sugar. Maple syrup, honey and agave I’m looking at you too.  Our recommended daily allowance currently stands at 30g per day, that’s 6 tsp. Take a regular can of coke for example, when that contains 35g (7 tsp) you can see how the numbers stack up.

Anything which contains more than 5g of sugar per 100g is said to be high. As sugar or a syrup is the ingredient in granola which brings the crunch, it is going to be higher than say a box of muesli or shredded wheat. There are granolas on the market which have much lower sugar content and are GL (glycemic load) tested, so won’t cause as much of a spike in your sugar levels. That being said, if like me you have tried this one in particular, will know that it resembles a certain food for our feathery friends. Bird food. Dry, floury, not much crunch and rather bland, food for fuel not for enjoyment.

No one needs that. Life isn’t made for boring breakfasts.

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I’m sure many of you have seen this recipe before from one of my favourites, Green Kitchen Stories. Their banana granola is a bit of a worldwide phenomenon. My New Roots has a recipe also. In fact it’s far from a new concept. Google banana granola and the posts are numerous. Hundreds and thousands of them. Hello innovative blogger over here! But you can never have enough granola recipes.

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Yet again I had a few bananas, well past their best, festering in the fruit bowl. Usually that always means banana bread, but no eggs and so far no success with a vegan version of said bread, I just wasn’t going to take the risk. Banana granola was on my mind. Sweetened with fruit and just a little maple syrup to bring the crunch. Thoughts of baking low and slow to ensure no burnt bitter ends and using up some brown rice puffs hiding in the back of the cupboard, well obviously my brain on that particular day was fully functioning. Clumpy granola, lightly sweetened, boulders of crunch to munch whether it be for breakfast or as a snack. It was a result.

This one. A heavy dousing of raw cacao, a big pinch of salt is essential, and some peanut butter too. Cos’ why not! Chopped nuts, coconut flakes, oats, raw buckwheat and puffed rice mixed well with some cinnamon for that sweet spice. It’s simple as you like, low in added sugar and one to use up whatever is going in your cupboards.

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I can’t forget to mention that it’s dad approved. From a dad who likes his breakfasts of Crunchy Nut Cornflakes, granola, Shreddies and Weetabix on rotation, and that is that. But this stuff by the handful, he was more than happy. Take it as you like. In a bowl drowned with your milk of choice, ice cold. Or some yogurt, whether it’s coconut, cows or almond topped with a big handful and some fruit. That açai bowl or smoothie that was begging for a bit of crunch, here’s your answer. As a topper for porridge, toast, overnight oats, a vessel for scooping up nut butter or just popping into your mouth… You got it!

Plus it’s chocolate flavoured. How can you go wrong?!?!

Chocolate and banana granola clumps

  • Servings: Makes a small serving which can be doubled easily ( just divide between two trays and rotate them halfway through baking)
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Ingredients

Dry ingredients:

  • 40g almonds
  • 40g walnuts
  • 40g flaked coconut
  • 50g puffed brown rice
  • 25g raw buckwheat
  • 75g rolled oats
  • 1 1/2 tbsp cacao powder
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 big pinch of salt

Wet ingredients:

  • 1 1/2 tbsp rapeseed oil (olive oil or coconut oil will work too)
  • 1 tbsp peanut butter
  • 1 tbsp maple syrup
  • 1 1/2 tbsp water
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 very ripe banana

Directions

  1. Preheat the oven to 160°C/140°C fan. Line a baking tray with baking paper or a silicone baking sheet.
  2. Chop the almonds and walnuts roughly and add to a bowl along with all the other dry ingredients and stir together.
  3. In a saucepan mash the banana to a purée then add all the other wet ingredients and heat gently until everything has melted and combined.
  4. Pour the banana mixture into the oat mixture and give it a good stir until there are no dry bits left and everything is mixed well.
  5. Transfer to the baking sheet, pat into a thick layer and put in the oven for 20 minutes.
  6. After that time, give the granola a stir by folding it over trying not to break the clumps up too much. Rotate the tray and place back in the oven for another 15-20 minutes. Checking the granola every 5 minutes, stirring the outside edges into the middle to ensure they are not burning.
  7. Take out of the oven when deep brown and smelling delicious. It will firm up even more as it cools.
  8. Leave the tray to cool on a wire rack, whilst the scent of chocolatey banana bread wafts through the house, so hide away from wandering hands! Store in a Tupperware at room temperature where it will keep for around 1 month.

Hope you enjoy this one. It sure is a winner. I’ll be off now, I’ve just eaten a mouthful of granola and I want some more!

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Cookie cravings

Let’s cut straight to the chase.

Cookies

Banana. Peanut butter. Chocolate.

That is all my friends, and it sure is a good’un

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I don’t know about you, when I come to baking a so called ‘healthier’ snack or treat it gives me serious anxiety and stress before I’ve even made anything. Then don’t get me started on whether it’s cooked when pulled out the oven or if it will taste any good or just end up in the bin. A tight chest, knot in my stomach and usually tears ensues, makes me wonder why I bother in the first place.

Well that’s my issues laid out on a plate. Back to the recipe at hand.

It is known by most that baking is a cheap hobby. White flour, butter, caster sugar and eggs are typically the main ingredients to feature in a homemade bake. All friendly on the purse, leave your tastebuds happy however there’s not much going on the nutritional side of things. So when it comes to everyday snacking I want to find something wholesome, full of fibre, healthy fats, a littlleeee bit of sweet (NOT TOO MUCH) and just tastes real good. I love hummus and crudités, some full fat yogurt or banana/apple drizzled with nut butter they’re all great. But sometimes you just need that satisfaction that comes in the form of a baked good.

And chocolate, always chocolate.

Finding a recipe for something along ^^those^^ lines seems pretty easy to begin with- a quick google – factor in that you want it free from refined sugar and LOADS of things pop up. Look more closely and the recipes tend to just replace normal sugar with equal measures of expensive ‘healthier’ sugars like maple syrup and coconut sugar. I will keep this short – and will do a post on where I stand in the big bad world of sugar soon – however we need to keep the amount of added sugar in our daily diets down to a minimum. I’m looking at you honey, agave and dates too!!

If you do find a recipe that has reduced sugar and isn’t drenched in syrups, from my experience they’re always dry, unpalatable and claim to be ‘better than the real thing’. Course they ain’t. There’s no butter for starters. Bird food comes to mind, basically loads of nuts and seeds, and millet that’s what birds like isn’t it?

I’ve had a bit of an obsession with the blog Oh Lady Cakes recently, when I stumbled across these cookies, let’s say trail bar. As rightly pointed out by my mum they’re yummy but if you’re expecting a cookie you would be severely disappointed. FAIR ENOUGH. So trail bars it is! I altered the original recipe slightly to omit the maple syrup, the added banana chips sound divine, but sourcing some which aren’t deep fried or coated in sugar is like finding the holy grail, so instead I used coconut flakes and cacao nibs instead of the peanuts. Walnuts chopped up would add nicely to the ‘Chunky Monkey’ vibe going on.

So a base of mashed bananas, peanut butter, oat flour and rolled oats leaves these trail mix bars moist with that chewy claggyness you expect from a peanut butter cookie (I’m selling these really well aren’t I). To sweeten slightly I used some medjool dates (they’re a great source of fibre however still very high in sugar so don’t go overboard) and whizzed them up with the nut milk to form a date paste. They’re subtlety sweet but not teeth achingly so, AND only sweetened by fruits which makes me even happier. You don’t want to over bake these otherwise they will be like sawdust.

We want some goo. Goo is good.

All in all, the stress came – they smelt good, and looked good but the idea of them not tasting good always kills me as I hate to throw expensive ingredients away – but alas it swiftly left, as on the first mouthful I knew I was onto a winner.

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Pre their short stint in the oven

 

So by all means bake these *ahem* cookies, they’ll last on the counter or in the fridge for a good week. If you’re like me and they live up to your cookie cravings and you’re not expecting it to be a proper COOKIE COOKIE (ya know what I mean), then by all means here’s a recipe for banana, peanut butter and chocolate cookies.

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However if you want a wholesome snack that doesn’t lure you into a false pretence of being a cookie, only to be severely disappointed afterwards as it contained oats not butter and sugar, then here is a recipe for a banana, peanut butter and chocolate trail bar. Most definitely NOT a cookie.

Same same, But different.

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Banana, peanut butter and chocolate trail bars/cookies (it’s your call)

Ingredients

  • 1 large very ripe banana
  • 140g peanut butter
  • 2 tbsp butter, melted
  • 80g medjool dates
  • 55ml milk (I used oat milk)
  • 120g oat flour (weigh out the oats and whizz to a flour, I did this in my Nutribullet with the milling blade on)
  • big pinch sea salt
  • 1/4 tsp bicarbonate of soda
  • 100g rolled oats
  • handful of coconut flakes/desiccated coconut
  • two handfuls of chopped dark chocolate (at least 70%)
  • a handful of cacao nibs (can omit if you like, I like them for crunch and a deep bitter cacao flavour)

Method

  1. Mash the banana in a large bowl and whisk together with the peanut butter and melted butter.
  2. In a blender whizz up the dates with the milk to form a paste and mix this in with the banana mixture.
  3. Add in the oat flour, bicarb and salt and mix with a spoon to make a sticky batter.
  4. Fold through all the other ingredients until distributed evenly, then cover and pop in the fridge for around 1 hour.
  5. Preheat the oven to 160C, line two baking sheets with baking paper.
  6. Using an ice cream scoop, scoop out the mixture, roll into a ball and flatten into a thick cookie shape. Repeat until all the mixture has been used up. (You can of course lick the spoon but don’t eat it all!!)
  7. Bake in the oven for around 12 minutes until lightly browned around the edges but still underdone in the middle, this is what makes them stay gooey.
  8. Leave to cool on wire racks then store in Tupperware either on the side or in the fridge. Or pop in the freezer wrapped well where they will keep for a few months, just leave to defrost before eating, or put back in the oven for a few minutes to crispen up the edges and leave the chocolate nice and melty.

I like these obviously with a cup of tea (I’m Brtish), sometimes a rooibos, a chai rooibos or even a green tea (JUST DON’T DUNK!!). Sometimes only milk and cookies will suffice, so those days I pour myself a small glass of chilled milk, usually plant based or raw cows milk if we have some, with one of these.

Lovely

Much love and *hopefully* less stress in your baking ploys

X

 

 

 

Beet tahini balls

When I was little, toast or cereal was the only thing on the cards for breakfast. Well thinking about it, it was almost always a big bowl of cereal. Toast was one of those things that sounded great beforehand, crisped and bronzed, slathered well with salted butter and a thin slick of ruby jam, BUT in reality a soggy piece of white loaf spread with flora and overly sweet strawberry jam. Nah never did it for me.

So bowl of cereal it was to break the fast. My eyes always shone at the sight of some Crunchy Nut Cornflakes, Shreddies, Rice Krispies or come winter warm Shredded Wheat or Weetabix with a sliced up banana. Now my mum was always a Sugar Puffs gal. If you’re new to the British cereal aisle, you’ll find them under the name of Honey Monster Puffs, a puffed wheat sweetened with sugar and honey. IN FACT, looking at the nutritional breakdown on the packet, containing 5 types of sugar, there are certainly better options out there.

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(On tasting these bars, my mum remarked how they are similar to Sugar Puffs, I’m hoping on a much more wholesome scale, but I will definitely take that as a good thing.)

Between me and my mum we’re both BIG fans of a good muesli bar (I’m not including my dad here because it’s near impossible to tempt him with a healthier treat, he’s only down for proper brownies and chocolate). I’ve attempted many in the past, and it really is hard to find a good one. Some granola bars are just way too dry, other ‘no-bake’ muesli bars too crumbly and fall apart, some using way too many dried dates or a big glug of maple syrup. I always return to the Muesli Bar from Green Kitchen Stories (on their desserts apps), they keep really well in the freezer and transport without turning into a mass of crumbs. If you fancy a baked bar, this Feelgood flapjack is lovely, just on the right side of sweetness, dipped into a cup of milk, crumbled on top of some yogurt or spread liberally with nut butter. Totally satisfying and moreish.

Now this recipe from Golubka Kitchen has been on my radar for quite a while now. Remember Rice Krispies Squares? The Rice Krispie snack glued together by a mass of marshmallows, this is slightly reminiscent of them. Gloriously magenta in colour, they use blended cooked beetroot to lend a slight earthiness as well as the mega hue. Oats and puffed brown rice make them more sustaining as a snack, and tahini and hazelnut butter lend a richness as well as a good dose of plant based protein. I added a handful of raisins for chewy nuggets, another of sunflower and pumpkin seeds for crunch and some cacao nibs for that 4pm much needed cacao hit.

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Note: The bars are best kept in the freezer and will keep there for a good few months, just take them out a few minutes before serving to soften. I have eaten some straight out the freezer but at room temperature is the best way to enjoy them. They are sticky and gooey and everything you want in a little snack bar. If you’re feeling fancy, drizzle with a little dark chocolate or some raw chocolate, i just rolled mine in whizzed up coconut flakes. The choice is yours.

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Beet Tahini Balls

Ingredients

  • 1 small beetroot, cooked (I roasted mine whole in its skin in foil, then peeled. However use vacuum packed if you can’t get fresh beets)
  • 1/2 cup soft dates, pitted
  • 1-2 tbsp plant based milk
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • Pinch of salt
  • 2 1/2 cups rolled oats
  • 2 cups wholegrain puffs (I used brown rice, try buckwheat, quinoa)
  • 1/2 cup tahini (try to use a brand such as Meridian, its much thicker)
  • 2 tbsp other nut butter (I used hazelnut sunflower seed butter but anything else will work)
  • Handful cacao nibs
  • Handful sunflower seeds
  • Handful pumpkin seeds
  • Handful raisins
  • Large handful of desiccated coconut or coconut flakes

 

Method

  1. Make sure the beet is peeled, then chop up and put in the food processor with the dates, 1 tbsp of milk, vanilla extract and a pinch of salt. Whizz up to form a smooth paste, and add more milk if it is struggling and still lumpy.
  2. Tip into a large mixing bowl and add all the other ingredients except the desiccated coconut.
  3. Mix well to form a sticky mixture, if it’s too wet add another handful of oats or if i’ts too dry add a little more milk. It needs to come together in one big clump.
  4. Form into little rounded mounds, akin to a coconut macaroon. I find this easier by wetting my hands with water first. Sprinkle the coconut out on a plate and roll the balls in the coconut until evenly covered.
  5. Place on a few plates in the freezer for at least an hour to set, then transfer to a Tupperware where they will keep in the freezer for a few months.

I hope these will brighten up your snacking or on-the-hoof breakfasts.

With love

X

 

Cacao matcha smoothie bowl

It’s recipe time again! I’m declaring my love of breakfast by giving you a summer themed one to eat outside in those blazing sunny days that we’ve been having, HA, if only? If you’re like me and from the UK I’m sure that you’re pretty done with this supposed ‘summer’. Can Autumn come along already? Ok summer can be the best part of the year and we always look forward to it. Bbqs in the garden, picnics in the park, long daytime hours, ice creams and wearing dresses without tights. But in my case that means wearing a jumper and a big jacket on top to compensate, keepin’ those kidneys warm, I am the master layerer! 

However, let’s not get too down about things, the weather isn’t everything. Make the most of British berries whilst they’re at their best, drown them in cream and eat with a glass of Pimms. Possibly you’re sat on your sofa wrapped in a blanket watching the new series of The Great British Bake Off instead of in the garden, but no one needs to know, it’s our secret!

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So, summer weather breakfasts. For those mornings when you wake up and the thought of porridge just doesn’t get you going. You feel the need for something fresh and cool, but filling and sustaining. Welcome this matcha cacao smoothie bowl to your morning scene. Super thick and creamy, think along the lines of pimped up ice cream. There’s only a little banana for sweetness and a special other ingredient, so don’t be expecting a sugar crash 1 hour later, full of healthy fats from the peanut butter and avocado, and hello 1 serving of green veg before 9 am, GET YOU!!

stripped bare smoothie bowl, don’t forget the toppings!!

To be truthful, smoothies aren’t my favourite thing in the world. I like to chew my food, also chewing prepares your stomach for whatever is oncoming meaning better digestion. So I seriously advise making the smoothie super thick so you have to eat it with a spoon and then add toppings. Am I really having to tell you to add toppings, don’t be silly you were going to do that anyway weren’t you.

Please go mad with toppings, that’s what makes it fun. Ok don’t channel the froyo shops and crumble every biscuit in the tin on top and then half a bar of chocolate. I was thinking more along the lines of granola, fruit such as sliced banana or berries, coconut, seeds, cacao nibs, bee pollen, goji berries, chia seeds, whatever you fancy really. The kitchen cupboards are your oyster. Without further ado, I’d better give you the recipe before it starts snowing and we’re all back on the porridge bandwagon. Here you are, enjoy my lovelies!

that’s better. DIVE RIGHT IN!


Cacao matcha smoothie bowl 

Perfect for those summer months, or in the winter if you are mad and want cold food. A creamy dreamy smoothie bowl, that will keep you going all morning long and give you a little boost to get your day started. Try adding a handful of cacao nibs in once it has blended smooth, give it a quick final whizz and then pour into your bowl for a chocolate chip version. 

Ingredients

  • 1/2 frozen banana
  • 1/4 avocado
  • 1 handful spinach
  • 2 tbsp frozen peas (trust me with this one)
  • 1 tbsp rolled oats
  • 1 tbsp peanut butter (or any other nut butter)
  • 1 tbsp protein powder (I use hemp protein)
  • 1/2-1 tbsp raw cacao powder (depending on how chocolates you want it)
  • 1/2-1 tsp matcha powder (again depending on your preference)
  • Squeeze of lemon juice
  • 50ml-150ml plant milk/ water (start with a little bit, if it won’t blend add a bit more until a consistency you like)

Topping ideas: 

  • chopped fresh fruit e.g. Banana, strawberries, raspberries, blueberries, mango, kiwi, choose your favourite
  • Cacao nibs
  • Coconut flakes
  • Chopped nuts
  • Seeds
  • Extra nut butter
  • Goji berries
  • Chia seeds
  • Bee pollen
  • Granola

Method 

  1. Freeze the banana the night before if you don’t already have any in your freezer
  2. Add all the ingredients to a blender. I use a nutribullet and I would recommend one of these or a similar strong blender if you want to keep it really thick. If you only have a stick blender or yours isn’t strong enough you will need to add more liquid and maybe leave the banana and peas to defrost slightly before blending
  3. Add a little squidge of lemon, this cuts through the bitterness you can sometimes get from green veg in smoothies
  4. Blend with the milk or water until completely smooth and you are happy with the consistency
  5. If you are very slow like me at making smoothies, pop in a few cubes of ice when you blend it to make it thicker and stay nice and cold.
  6. Pour or spoon into a bowl, then sprinkle, sprinkle, sprinkle to your hearts content
  7. Remember chew your smoothie! Your stomach with thank me later

Make the most of the last of the summer weeks, try something new, get outside in the fresh air and get those legs out in the sun, even if they’re pasty white and bruised don’t worry everyone’s the same, we’re British!

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