Low-sugar acai bowl

My Instagram feed has been LOADED lately with smoothies. Smoothie bowls, açai bowls, ‘nice’ cream, basically blended up cold things, with toppings for crunch.

Don’t forget the toppings!

Out of all the breakfast foods (OK perhaps not the avo toast as that is the ULTIMATE in photogenicity) the smoothie bowl photos rather well. Thick and creamy in a vibrant green or purple – or brown if you use spinach – a good nut butter drizzle and the generous overflow streaming down the sides. It’s cool, similar to ice cream so surely is the perfect candidate for summer breakfasts when porridge most definitely isn’t the answer.

Why is it then that every time I make a smoothie, it just doesn’t float my boat. I’m not sure whether it’s that a liquid meal just doesn’t satiate my appetite? Or perhaps that I’m conscious of not adding too much fruit so instead it ends up tasting of pond, never mind resembling one? I just can’t figure it out. SOS (save ones’ smoothies).

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Now I’m sure we’ve all heard of the açai bowl. A street snack from Brazil which is a deep purple berry frozen and blended and then topped with toppings galore. Bananas, granola, berries, coconut, seeds, you name it, you can top it. Here in the UK the açai berry isn’t as abundant so we have to rely on frozen bananas for the texture and then freeze dried açai powder or little frozen sachets of the açai pulp for the taste and colour. If you’re then centering your toppings around granola, banana and berries it’s not a very balanced breakfast. Meaning spiked blood sugar levels and a grumble in your belly by 11am. Breakfast preferably wants to contain a good balance of slow and fast release carbohydrates, protein and healthy fats so we need to rethink our smoothie bowl making rituals.

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Something else that has been trending lately. Fruit-free and low-sugar smoothies. Yuppp that’s right, ones that supposedly don’t taste like salad, are filling and all add up to that much needed 5-a-day (or is it now 7, or 10? I’m not sure it keeps changing). Frozen banana is the fruit of choice when it comes to smoothies, but have you ever considered steamed and frozen cauliflower? Or courgette? Or butternut squash? Thought not. Me neither. The furthest I ever roamed into vegetable territory was spinach or kale , the odd bit of avocado – that’s technically a fruit so doesn’t count!

Steamed to make it gentler on your tummy and frozen to keep the smoothie chilled, vegetables are a wondrous addition. Paired with ground flaxseeds, a spoon of plantbased protein powder, some berries, maybe a cheeky half a date as I’m just not that hard-core, milk and any funky powders you like, you’d be none the wiser that it contains some cruciferous vegetables. A spoon of oats or soaked buckwheat blended into the mix would be ideal if you need it super filling, or a generous sprinkle (*ahem* handful) of granola or muesli…leftover cookies in my case.

Maybe this smoothie bowl is the one that will change things forever? It was good. I’m not going to lie. But I am still ever faithful to my porridge/toast/muesli/overnight-oats rotation. The girl knows what she likes. -\_(‘~’)_/-

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Maybe I haven’t landed upon the perfect granola yet? Not too sweet, plenty of crunch. The sort that you just can’t get off of your mind. Saying that, this one was mega, it hasn’t escaped my mind. Maybe I’ve found the one?!?

If you’re after some more smoothie bowl inspiration and recipes, all low sugar veggie-centric and drool worthy may I add, head to these blogs and Instagram accounts. These girls are killing it in the smoothie game.

Low-sugar açai bowl

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup steamed and frozen cauliflower
  • 1/2 cup steamed and frozen courgette (zucchini)
  • 1/2 cup berries (I used a mixture of strawberries and blackberries, any fresh or frozen would work)
  • 1/4-1/2 cup milk
  • 1 heaped tbsp açai powder
  • 1 tbsp protein powder (I used hemp)
  • 1 tsp ground flaxseeds/linseeds
  • 1/2-1 date depending on sweetness preference

Topping ideas

  • Granola (try to use a low sugar one)
  • Muesli
  • These crumbled up cookies
  • Pumpkin or sunflower seeds
  • Hemp seeds
  • Fruit such as strawberries, blueberries, banana, kiwi
  • Bee pollen
  • Cacao nibs
  • Chopped Nuts
  • Nut or seed butter (I used a roasted almond, cashew and hazelnut)
  • Yogurt
  • Coconut flakes
  • Puffed rice, buckwheat, quinoa or amaranth

Directions

  1. Add all the ingredients for the smoothie into a high powdered blender, starting with 1/4 cup of milk.
  2. Blend until everything is blitzed smooth and you have a thick smoothie with the consistency of ice cream, adding more milk if necessary. A high powered blender will work best here, I use a nutribullet. One less powerful will struggle to blend the frozen fruit and vegetables and it will be lumpy.
  3. Spoon into a bowl (watch your tongue on that blade I know you’re licking it clean!)
  4. Choose your toppings, add as many or as few as you wish.
  5. Dive in whilst it’s still cold, and don’t forget that picture for Instagram!

Enjoyed al fresco basking in the morning sunshine listening to the birds whistle their tunes. That’s the ideal breakfast situation. Not achievable most of the time I know, but on the one day that it appears, make the most of it. Embrace it with both hands, the smoothie bowl included, and DIG IN!

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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)
  • Print

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!

X

Carrot and oat chocolate chip cookies

I love the gap in between meals. I love snacks. Particularly cookies for a snack.

mmmmm cookies

When I was younger I always loved the occasional trips with my mum to a shopping centre, bags gathered in hands with the excitement of new shoes and holiday gear. (Shoes which according to my dad should be saved for my holiday, by which time they were too small as I was the never-ending-child). We always made a detour on the way out by the Millie’s Cookies stand. Anyone also from the UK will have similar fond memories. I’d have a pick of two cookies, guaranteed white chocolate chip and the other a milk chocolate and toffee, my mum’s the oatmeal and raisin, all wrapped in a paper bag to nibble on on the car journey to my Nanan’s to bridge-the-gap before dinner.

Nowadays my cookie preference nods towards a more grown up flavour. Ideally a crispy on the outside and really gooey in the middle, the under baked kind with a good butterscotch caramel tone. Either with oats for a chew and plump raisins, or studded with dark chocolate chips (85% plus), more chocolate than cookie, and some nuts for crunch. Not forgetting that sprinkle of flaky salt. You can’t forget that.

Inevitably, eating cookies everyday isn’t going to do you any wonders. Perhaps your mental health, chocolate is known for its calming effects (I’ll take that as an excuse!!), but they are very high in sugar and fat. Sadly we do need to keep those added sugars down from day to day. On the odd occasion though, there will be no holding back.

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For the every day 4pm slot, THIS recipe has been my recent nibble. Usually I’m a fan of the two-ingredient banana and oat cookie which, as I can’t be that minimalistic, morphs into an everything-but-the-kitchen-sink cookie. They’re sweet, gooey and as we always have overripe bananas in the fruit bowl, waste-free too! (BONUS). I found this version, full of add-ins for texture, crunch and goo, on The First Mess blog, her photography always does wonders there’s no surprise that I was drawn in. I am always on the hunt for the perfect specimen of a snacking cookie. Maybe now I’ve found it?!?!

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It wouldn’t be a recipe of mine on this blog without the little tweak here and there, and this cookie is no different. I like my snacks to not be too sweet, wholesome and tasty yes, but sickly no. Initial ideas of subbing the mashed ripe banana for an equal amount of finely grated courgette, great. However the last courgette I had just put in the oven to roast, so it wasn’t going to happen after all. Next best option? Carrot. Naturally sweeter, why didn’t I think of that in the first place!

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Made with finely grated carrots, oats, toasted coconut, roasted chunks of almonds (or pecans), some cinnamon and turmeric and not forgetting the dark chocolate (that’s the important part). Make sure to under bake these, they still will feel really soft from the oven, but bear with me here. Leave them to cool fully on a rack and store in the fridge ready for a week, or two (if you’re lucky), of snacking success. Note they’re vegan, with only a little bit of added maple syrup, I’d reckon they’re good enough for breakfast? Well they were good enough for me!

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Carrot and oat chocolate chip cookies

Ingredients

  • 70g (1/2 cup) raw almonds or pecans
  • 40g (1/2 cup) coconut flakes
  • 80g (1 cup) rolled oats
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp turmeric
  • 1/2 tsp ground psyllium husk (if you can’t get this use ground flaxseeds or linseeds instead)
  • 1/2 tsp sea salt, plus extra for topping
  • 2 tbsp maple syrup
  • 110g (1/2 cup) finely grated carrot
  • 60ml (1/4 cup) + 2 tsp milk, I used oat milk but water works too
  • 2 tbsp coconut oil, melted
  • 1 tbsp almond butter
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 90g (1/2 cup) chopped dark chocolate (my favourite is 85%)

Method

  1. Preheat the oven to 180C/160C fan.
  2. Chop the almonds or pecans into small chunks and put in a tin and roast in the oven for 8 minutes.
  3. Meanwhile chop the coconut finely and after the 8 mins add the coconut and the oats to the tin and put in the oven for 4 more minutes.
  4. Pour the almonds, oats and coconut into a bowl along with the cinnamon, turmeric, salt and psyllium husk and mix well.
  5. Put the grated carrot, milk, coconut oil, almond butter, maple syrup and vanilla extract in a small bowl and whisk together.
  6. Add the wet ingredients to the dry along with the chocolate (but reserve a little and put aside) fold until combined and everything is incorporated.
  7. Line two baking sheets with baking paper, or silicone mats. With an ice cream scoop place mounds of dough on the baking sheets until you have used all the mixture.
  8. Flatten to a pattie shape with damp hands, as they won’t spread in the oven. Squish the reserved chocolate chips into the top of the cookies and sprinkle rather generously with flaky salt.
  9. Bake for around 15-20 minutes, until the edges are golden and firm but the middles are still soft. I found 15 mins was perfect.
  10. Cool on the baking sheet for 10 minutes then transfer to a rack until completely cool and store in the fridge for up to two weeks.

 

But Seriously? We all know they won’t last that long.

Big hugs and sunshiney love

x

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

 

 

 

Peanut butter, sour cherry and oat bars

Making decisions for me is one of my biggest bugbears. If someone just handed everything to me without any choice I’m sure it would cause a lot less stress in life. Buuuttt considering I am also quite the control freak, that’s not going to happen. Good mix I have going on there, making life super easy for myself.

Honestly I don’t know what it is about deciding between two things (two if I’m lucky) that’s so difficult. And then if you throw being hungry in there whilst trying to decide what to eat, well that’s the end of the world. Of course I know that next time you can choose the other option, and if the decision you make ends up being the wrong one, that most definitely shouldn’t  = day ruined. But it always does.

One of my biggest problems with decision making comes to choosing a recipe to make. Life before the Internet must have been so much simpler, from your couple of cookbooks you either had the recipe you wanted or you didn’t. No such thing as Pinterest and Google, or the ever expanding ‘whole wall of the kitchen’ shelf of cookbooks that I have at home.

The process is always the same: I get an idea in my head or see something I want to make, then I flick through all my books to find something similar, then an endless scroll through Pinterest to check out other people’s techniques maybe some wacky addition I hadn’t thought of. Then I get confused having spent the last hour or so looking at countless recipes centred around the same idea I no longer know which one to choose. Eventually I choose one, cook it, ends up not working out or not tasting as good as I expected. Obviously I chose the wrong one. End up crying into an under baked mess of cake goo. Fml.

On the very odd occasion I see a recipe and automatically know that I have to make it. There’s no searching around for better options, my minds made up and we’re avin’ it!

This was one of those -extremely rare- occasions. I got an email about a new post from The First Mess. Yes she’s a vegan, but don’t let that turn you away. You will never be asking, ‘where is the meat?’. Expect plant-centric wholefoods, flavour pairings you would never dream of, luscious drinks for a bit of me time, and a few pictures of her dog slipping in there.

I opened the email and read the title no-bake oat bars with sour cherries, hemp and chocolate. *Mental post-it-note*, THAT is what I am baking at the weekend.

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This recipe was for something a bit devilish. Definitely devilishly delicious (that’s hard to say, hard enough to type!). I have a bit of a thing for a good oat bar. Many baked ‘flapjack’ style things have been tested in my kitchen and usually end up dry and cardboardy. Bleugh. So no bake definitely seem the best route to go down and stick with, ooey gooey and utterly moreish. Laura writes how she followed the recipe down to a tee. Now I’ve altered it slightly, as that was what I had in my cupboards, so if you wish go back to the original recipe. Whichever you decide to do, make sure its a quick decision and start devouring these ASAP.

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Hang on..there seems to be something missing

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Someone say a drizzle of chocolate?

Peanut butter, and squidgy dates mixed with toasted oats, seeds, cacao nibs, sour cherries, AND chocolate flecked with sea salt. I’ve got you interested now, even if I hadn’t before.

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On a quick note, this is something that I will go into more detail about another time. Sugar. I am very cautious of how much sugar I put into food, whether it be white caster, honey, maple or from dates it’s all the same to our bodies. Remember these are a treat. Yes they do contain wholesome ingredients, but there’s still quite a lot of sugar from the dates and fat from the peanut butter and dark chocolate, so don’t go thinking you can eat the entire tray . Well you can, but you will feel well and truly stuffed and I’m sure pretty sick, so it’s not the best idea. These little delights are rich and filling, enjoy them with a good cup of tea, share with loved ones or keep in the freezer for a rainy day.

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Peanut butter, sour cherry and chocolate oat bars

Recipe taken from The First Mess, originally from the book Alternative Baker by The Bojon Gourmet.

Ingredients

  • 1 cup smooth peanut butter (I used a brand called Meridian)
  • 1/2 cup dates (the squidgier the better) soaked in some boiling water for 5-10 minutes
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract (please not essence)
  • A good pinch of sea salt
  • 2 1/2 cups of rolled oats
  • 1/2 cup sunflower seeds
  • 1/4 cup pumpkin seeds
  • 1/2 cup dried cherries
  • 1/4 cup cacao nibs
  • 50g dark chocolate (my favourite is Green and Blacks 85%, the darker the better)

Method

  1. Line a 8×8 inch tin (20cm x 20cm) with cling film and set to one side.
  2. Take dates out of their soaking liquid (but reserve the liquid for later) and blend in a food processor until they form a paste. Add the peanut butter, vanilla extract and salt and blend again to form a big sticky clump.
  3. Mix together the oats, seeds, dried cherries and cacao nibs in another bowl then tip all the peanut butter mixture into the bowl.
  4. Now it gets messy. Get your hands in there and squidge it all together until well combined. It should feel sticky, but if it’s on the dry side add some of the reserved soaking water until it’s moist and holding together.
  5. Put into the prepared tin and press down firmly with your hands or a spoon so that the bars are an even thickness all the way across.
  6. Melt the chocolate in a bowl over some simmering water, or in the microwave, then drizzle all over the bars, either spreading it out to create an even layer or leaving it ‘informal’ (as Mary Berry would say) as I have here.
  7. Sprinkle with extra cacao nibs and a good sprinkle of sea salt.
  8. Put in the fridge for at least 2 hours, or the freezer for 30 mins if you’re desperate, until firm and the chocolate is set.
  9. Slice into 16 squares and store in the fridge for a couple of weeks or the freezer for a couple of months. But what am I kidding, that’ll be completely unnecessary they will all be gone way before then.

 

I must add, these are dad approved. Now my dad pulls a face at anything I make if he thinks it’s too ‘healthy’. I’m talking about the porridge I make for us all on a Saturday morning. He pulls a face unless its got A LOT of honey added. As he keeps telling me, “I don’t have a sweet tooth”, obviously honey doesn’t count dad. BUT, he loved these bars, I went away from home for only a couple of days and they were all gone. Is that proof enough? I think so.

Happy rainy day (no) baking

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