Recipe: Chewy Oat and Date Bars

Chewy oat and date bars

I’m so excited about this recipe. I’ve been trying to make nutritious, no-added-sugar cereal bars for a good year or so, and I have FINALLY cracked it! The Roommate likes to take one to work as a snack and I like to have one for breakfast, but neither of us like coconut, peanut butter or nuts particularly, and almost every recipe I’ve seen has at least one (if not all three!) of these. Queue lots of testing, several batches that went tits up, and a Eureka moment.

These bars are so, so good – they are oaty, chewy, moist, sweet and packed full of goodness. They’re raw, gluten free and vegan too, if that’s your jam (obviously using untoasted and/or gluten free oats).

Chewy oat and date bars

Ingredients (12 servings)

  • 250g pitted dates
  • 275g quick cook oats
  • 3 tbsps linseeds/flaxseeds
  • 2 tbsps chia seeds
  • 150g raisins
  • 1 tbsp cashew butter

Method

  1. Soak dates in 250ml of water for several hours or, ideally, overnight.
  2. (Optional) Toast oats, linseeds and chia seeds in a hot oven for several minutes.
  3. Pulse oats and seeds in a processor for 5-10 seconds; oats shouldn’t be ground too fine.
  4. Combine oats and seeds with raisins in a mixing bowl.
  5. Blend dates (including the liquid they’ve soaked in) in a processor with the cashew butter for a minute or two, until a smooth paste.
  6. Combine date paste with the oat and raisin mix, until well combined.
  7. Line a container with cling film, add mixture and firmly press down, getting into all the corners.
  8. Chill in fridge for 10-15 minutes, then remove from container and cut into 12 bars.

Chewy oat and date bars

The brilliant thing about these bars is that you can sub in other ingredients that maybe you prefer, or just have to hand – any kind of nut butter would work fine, and you could definitely experiment with different seeds and dried fruit. The main thing is that the quantities stay roughly the same; the biggest problem I found when trying to get this recipe right was that the bars were too crumbly and didn’t stick together. With these quantities of blended dates and nut butter, the finished bars hold together beautifully and have a lovely chew to them.

Nutritionally, these bars come out at about 200 calories a piece, with nearly 6g of fibre and about 20g of sugar; however, that sugar is all coming from natural fruit sources, rather than processed and refined sources.

Chewy oat and date bars

Yuuuuum!

x



Recipe: Apple and Blackberry Crumble

crumble text

One of the things I love about autumn is that it means autumn food. Homemade soups, pies and general rib-sticking goodness… Hoo yes, get in my face! A firm favourite round here is my apple crumble, which when served hot and with a scoop of really good vanilla ice cream is the cure for many, many ills (honest, guv).

Traditional crumble recipes call for butter but I like to give my crumble a healthy twist; I use a block vegetable spread as it has about 50% less saturated fat than butter, replace plain flour with wholemeal for a bit of extra goodness, and cut down on added sugar. All in all, this is a lovely comforting dessert with plenty of goodness packed in.

Ingredients (serves 4)
For the crumble topping

  • 150g wholemeal flour
  • 100g vegetable spread, cold and cubed
  • 75g brown sugar
  • 25g oats

For the filling

  • 2 large cooking apples
  • Handful of blackberries
  • 2 tsp wholemeal flour
  • ½ tsp cinnamon

Method

  1. For the topping, combine flour and vegetable spread (either by hand or in a food processor) until it is the consistency of breadcrumbs. Add sugar and put to one side.
  2. Peel, core and dice two large cooking apples, and combine with the rest of the filling ingredients.
  3. Add the apple filling to a baking dish and cover with the crumble topping.
  4. Sprinkle the oats on top of the crumble and bake for 45-50 minutes at 200°c (180°c fan).

 

If you give this recipe a go, let me know what you think!

x



Recipe: Simple Healthy ‘Slaw

simple healthy slaw text

I was inspired to come up with this because I’m really rather partial to coleslaw, but the shop-bought kind is often packed with unhealthy mayonnaise, oil and cream, and I prefer to keep my vegetables on the healthier side. This recipe is pretty much fat-free, full of veg and really tasty without being gloppy and heavy. This makes quite a lot, so would be perfect for a big barbeque, and stores well in the fridge for a few days.

Ingredients (serves 6-8 as a side)

  • ½ red onion
  • 1 carrot
  • ¼ red cabbage
  • 3 beetroots, cooked
  • 80ml (13 cup) vinegar
  • 80ml (13 cup) water
  • 4 tbsp 0% fat natural yoghurt
  • 1½ tsp Dijon mustard
  • Juice of 1 lemon
  • Salt and pepper, to taste

Method

  1. Finely slice the onion, add to a dish with the vinegar and water, and allow to soak for 10 minutes.
  2. Shred the carrot, cabbage and beetroot into a large mixing bowl.
  3. Drain the onions and add to the mixing bowl.
  4. Add the rest of the ingredients, mix thoroughly and serve.

Red Onions

Soaking the onions in water helps to get rid of their harsh flavour when raw, and adding vinegar adds just a bit of tang (I love pickled onions). This was a revelation as I don’t mind raw onions but can’t bear that harsh taste that hangs around – blergh!

Simple Healthy Slaw
Finally, I absolutely love the bright and practical Joseph Joseph Nest 9 set and the Joseph Joseph Rotary Peeler for its julienne peeler blade – it makes shredding the carrot into cute little sticks SO much easier! (90% of the kitchenware in this house is JJ and it is ridiculous <3). x



Recipe: Orange Hot Chocolate

Orange Hot Chocolate

I’ve really developed a taste for orange-flavoured hot chocolate this winter. I don’t normally drink hot chocolate but we’ve been making frequent boredom-busting trips to coffee shops and I don’t always fancy a coffee. Costa do a delicious orange hot chocolate using orange simple syrup and so I decided to make my own version, using orange zest instead of syrup to reduce the amount of sugar going into it.

Ingredients (makes 1 serving)

  • 200ml milk
  • 30g/3 pieces (approx.) chocolate
  • zest of ½ orange

Method

  1. Add milk and orange zest to a saucepan and warm through on a low heat.
  2. Strain the milk, removing the zest, and return to the saucepan.
  3. Add the chocolate to the pan and stir until melted.
  4. Optional: Before serving, whisk the hot chocolate until it is frothy – a balloon whisk will do it but I love using my Aerolatte whisk!

    Orange Hot Chocolate

    Deee-licious!

    x



Recipe: Vanilla Simple Syrup

Calling this a recipe feels very, very wrong as it is (barely) three ingredients and takes 5 minutes to make, but that’s how I roll.

I love this in coffee (I’m one of those terrible people who can only drink coffee when it is a syrupy latte; please don’t hold it against me) but it would be equally good in cocktails or drizzled over fresh fruit for dessert.

Ingredients (makes approx. 250ml)

  • 200g/1 cup sugar
  • 250ml/1 cup water
  • 1 tbsp vanilla extract

Method

  1. Add sugar and water to a saucepan and bring to a boil, stirring continuously
  2. Once the sugar has dissolved, add the vanilla extract and reduce heat slightly, to a gentle boil. Keep stirring.
  3. After a couple of minutes, remove from the heat and allow to cool.

A couple of points about this; granulated or caster sugar works best, and only use really good vanilla extract for this (I always use Neilsen-Massey – vanilla ‘flavouring’ or ‘essence’ isn’t real vanilla).  I find this keeps in an airtight container in the fridge for a good couple of months, although it’s never normally around that long 🙂

x



Recipe: Avocado and Beetroot Tartare

Avocado + Beetroot Tartare
This recipe was inspired by a recent meal out – I had a similar dish as a starter and it was so simple and delicious I had to try it. The original dish used mosto cotto but balsamic glaze or even regular balsamic vinegar is fine too.

Ingredients (per serving)

  • 1/2 avocado, diced
  • 1 cooked beetroot, diced
  • 1-2 slices goat’s cheese
  • Drizzle balsamic glaze
  • Handful salad leaves

avocado and beetroot tartare recipe

Method

  1. Spread a handful of salad leaves on a plate and place a round cookie cutter/mould in the middle
  2. Dice the avocado and carefully press down into the mould
  3. Repeat with the beetroot on top
  4. Remove the mould, top with slices of goat’s cheese and drizzle with the glaze

avocado and beetroot tartare recipe

So simple but so very tasty! It looks even more elegant when the avocado and beetroot are more finely diced but I was hungry, cooking for myself, and ain’t no-one got time for that. I think this would make a lovely light summer dinner with some buttery baby new potatoes and smoked or baked salmon.

x



Procrastination Season

It’s that time of year again.

Exams in the next month. Dissertation deadline in six weeks. Then final exams. AND THEN THE REAL WORLD apparently. So of course I’ve found lots of things to do that don’t involve libraries and remembering 29 different tenses in two different languages and research and panicking about life, the universe and everything and so on and so forth…

Some (long overdue) t-shirt surgery, for starters

Band t-shirts are very precious to me. Not least because they tend to be stupidly overpriced. More importantly, they’re normally mementos from special gigs or merch for my favourite bands; but they VERY rarely come in sizes small enough to fit me nicely. However, I FINALLY plucked up the courage to take a pair of scissors to a couple that have been lurking in the back of my wardrobe, using a fitted t-shirt as a template, and now I can actually wear them without being swamped by fabric!

I’ve also discovered…

… Guilt free baking!

OK, so maybe not guilt free, but certainly less naughty (in my mind). As they are made with ground almonds and no processed sugar, they are lower-carb than your average choc chip cookie, and although they are less sweet, the lovely delicate nutty flavour makes up for it.

150g almond flour
3 tbsp melted butter
2 tbsp honey
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
50g chocolate chips
A splash of water

Mix together. Form into balls and flatten to around 1cm thick. Bake at 150ºC for 10-12 minutes, or until lightly golden. Makes between 15-20, depending of course on how big you make them.

Aaand the jar itself is a neat little segway into my final picture…


WASHIIIIIIIIIII!

My mum told me about washi tape. So I bought her a lot of tape. And then I bought myself a lot of tape too. A LOT. And although there are a bajillion brilliant ideas on Pinterest for using it, I DON’T KNOW WHAT TO DO WITH IT ALL. It’s too pretty to use. I just like to look at it.

I have also been knitting, crocheting, and planning my life (ish) but that’s for next time.

x