Posts tagged dried fruit
'Golden Bars'... Turmeric Granola bars (perfect 'back to school' snack!)

So turmeric is kind of a big deal at the moment in the health and wellness world... turmeric lattes and golden milk is now pretty much mainstream!

turmeric oat bar 2a.jpg

I first made these bars a few months ago (when the photos were taken) and have since made them so many times with slight tweaks to the mix-ins depending on what I have to hand... they are perfect for festival food and camping trips, full of good nutrition, great sustenance for a mini meal or snack that keep you going for ages, and robust to pack!

I also realised they would be perfect for lunchboxes or after school snacks now back to school season has hit. Equally, they'd be great for breakfast-on-the-go, or a healthy mid morning/afternoon snack at work.

These were actually a spin on these amazing chocolate banana squares... featured in my 'Not Just For Goldilocks' ebookThey taste more dessert-like than snack like.

As all of my favourite recipes the variations really are endless- just be mindful to keep the proportions of wet and dry the same.

Tell me... what are you favourite 'back-to-school' or breakfast-on-the-go snacks?

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Recipe: Golden Granola Bars

Makes approx 12 squares

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups water

  • 2 large mashed bananas

  • ¼ cup nut butter of choice

  • ¼ cup ground turmeric*

  • 2 ½ cups rolled oats

  • 1 packed chopped dried fruit (I find cranberries, dates, apricots best)

  • ¼ tsp black pepper (don’t omit as this activates the turmeric)

  • 2 tbs ground ginger or cinnamon (optional)

  • 1 cup chopped nuts and seeds

  • ½ cup cacao nibs or dark chocolate drops (not shown in this photos but are a great addition)

*or equivalent fresh turmeric root blended into the water

Method:

Blend the water with the bananas, nut butter and fresh turmeric (if using) until very smooth.

In a separate bowl mix together the remaining ingredients and then add the banana mix slowly, making sure the everything is fully coated (it’s easy to get pockets of dry pieces if you are not careful!). If the mixture is too thick, add a touch more water.

Note: taste test the mix before baking and add a little syrup/coconut sugar only if needed.

Spoon the mixture into lined and greased brownie tin so that it is approx 2cm thick. Press firmly and smooth the top. Bake at 180C for 20 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean. 

turmeric oat bar 3a.jpg

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Toffee granola bars

For me, the best granola bars are lovely and dense with a great chunky texture to really get your teeth into… I also love a granola bar to be slightly moist and cakey rather than hard and crisp like a biscuit. Most of the granola bars sold in stores seem to be of the ‘hard’ variety.

A lightly sweetened, moreishly moist, healthy, fill-you-up cakey bar to grab on the run… yeah I think that pretty much sums it all up!

I have saved a number of different ‘granola bar’ style recipes from various sources across the net and I’ll be sure to try them out (with various tweaks and modifications) over the coming days and weeks.  However, the recipe for today comes from an original experiment I did a few months back when I wanted to make my own date syrup to act as alternative sweetener. The bar is based on this recipe by Oh She Glows, I loved it’s description indicating a healthy yet more cakey style bar. True to form I had to go changing things round a bit and so this is my take on the concept.

This is the second time I’ve made these bars, pretty much sticking to the same ingredients each time. The bars are fairly soft inside and slightly crumbly to bite into, but I really like them that way- a great contrast to the firm exterior. Wrap them up in foil or clingfilm to hold them together and they are good to go to the office or to be popped in a handbag! These store well in an airtight container for around 1 week.

I have used homemade date syrup as the main source of sweetness and as the main sticky ingredient binding everything together. Dates naturally have a caramelly, toffee like flavour so made the perfect complement for creating a natural toffee-like granola bar.

Recipe: toffee granola bars

Makes one 8” pan. Approx. 12 bar

Ingredients

  • ½ cup date syrup (homemade see note) or brown rice syrup- or a bit of each
  • 2 tbs ground flax
  • 1 ½ cups oats
  • ¼ cup buckwheat flour (or other similar textured flours could be used)
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 cup coarsely chopped nuts- I used cashews and hazlenuts
  • 2 tbs coconut oil
  • ¼ tsp stevia
  • ¼ cup peanut butter
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • ½ cup  cacoa nibs or dark chocolate chunks

Method

Mix the date syup and flax together and set aside. Mix dry ingredients together in a large bowl (excluding cacoa/choc chunks). Add the remaining wet ingredients (coconut oil, peanut butter, vanilla) to a small microwaveable bowl and microwave on medium power for approx. 2 minutes until the coconut oil has melted. (alternatively melt in a saucepan over the hob) stir in the date/flax mix last.

Spoon wet mixture over the dry and mix well- use your hands as the mixture is quite stiff! Add cacoa nibs/chocolate chunks last, making sure mixture is cool so the chocolate doesn’t melt (if using). 

Line an 8” pan with baking parchment and spoon the mixture in pressing it down as level as possible with  the back of a spoon. Bake at 180C for 25-30 minutes until the surface is beginning to go golden. Allow to cool completely in the tin on a wire rack for approx. 30 minutes before attempting to slice with a very sharp knife, as otherwise the edges have a greater tendency to crumble.

Note: To make date syrup, soften dates with an equal amount of boiling water. let stand for 30 minutes or so until soft and then blitz in a blender/food procesor until smooth. you can also add a little vanilla extract if desired.


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‘Twelve Days’ day 9: Mincemeat fruit loaf

I’m on a bit of a mincemeat kick!

Yes, I know I could freeze part of the batch I made a few days ago but I wanted to make it into as many things as possible right now!...plus I can always make more if I need to as it’s so simple.

I’ve never been a fan of traditional fruit cake as it’s so dense and rich and I’m not a lover of candied peel.  However I do like the idea of a fruit cake as a semi-sweet filling mid afternoon snack served warm with some vegan butter or yoghurt.  So as with all things… I set about creating my own version. This loaf is a lot lighter than a traditional loaf cake and I used a food processor to blend the mincemeat into the mixture so that the pieces were much smaller with a delicate crumb to the cake, (great for people who proclaim not to like fruit cake because of the bits!) but instead of blending you could simply fold the mincemeat through by hand if you would prefer to retain more of a texture to the fruit.

The basis of this recipe was inspired by this cake as it had a lovely light delicate sponge, although I have ended up modifying it quite a lot.

I can barely believe we’ve reached ‘Day 9’ already…..this time next week Christmas day will be upon us! 

Ok- now I’m starting to get really excited…the final countdown has begun and there are still 3 more recipes to squeeze in this week…. 

So, put you Christmas tunes on, get your tinsel out and dance around the room like a crazy person. It’s Christmas so anything goes…plus after all that dancing you’ll need a rest and refuel with a little piece of cake!

Recipe: Mincemeat fruit loaf

Ingredients

  • 150g wholemeal spelt flour
  • 50g almond meal
  • 50g potato starch
  • 1tsp flax seed mixed with 1tbs hot water
  • 3tsp baking powder 
  • 1tbs bicarbonate of soda
  • 2tsp cinnamon
  • 70g rapadura
  • ¼ tsp stevia
  • 100ml melted coconut butter
  • 50ml soy yoghurt
  • 100ml orange juice (more if needed)
  • 1tsp vanilla extract
  • 200g mincemeat (ideally homemade)
  • Whole blanched almonds for decoration
  • Fills one 8 inch loaf tin

Method

Blend all liquids in food processor and melt coconut oil separately then mix in. Mix all dry ingredients together in a bowl then pour into the wet ingredients and beat well to get a very smooth mixture. Add the mincemeat last and either blend in or fold in by hand. Add a little more orange juice if necessary to ensure a smooth batter.

Pour into greased and lined8” loaf tin. Place/scatter a handful of blanched almonds over the top of the loaf. Bake for approx. 40 mins at 180C. If the top of the loaf begins to brown before the centre is fully cooked, lightly cover with foil for the last few minutes of baking time.


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‘Twelve Days’ day 7: Mincemeat- simple and sugar-free!

When I pulled open my blind this morning I realised we’d had our first snow! Ok, so it wasn’t really much to write home about and wasn’t particularly photo worthy either…but it was still snow! Wohoo!

It now feels much more like winter, a little boost to the Christmassy spirit!

So far this year it’s been very mild outside, I’ve barely had to scrape my car at all in the mornings before heading off to work but in the last week or so there has definitely been a winter chill in the air and snowfall was only a matter of time.

Time, to cosy up indoors with snuggly slippers a dressing gown and maybe a glass of mulled wine?   No… I’m saving that for Christmas! A mug of herbal tea with have to do.

It’s time like this I really wish I had a crackling fire to sit next to as I write…no such luck, although the glow of the tree lights is nice.  Actually an open fire would probably be a bad thing…I’d fall asleep in no time!

In all the talk of warmth and spices, Christmas is not complete without mincemeat….. Oh no, I can see some of you pulling a face…stop and re-consider.  I’ve never really liked mincemeat, it always seemed full of too many currants, mixed peel  and things like that and for someone who previously disliked dried fruit it just wasn’t my thing. 

I’d never even considered making my own and certainly not realised how simple it really can be! Now I'm brimming with ideas using this basic concept...for example a 'summer fruits' or 'tropical' version for summer time- who says mincemeat is for Christmas only?

It's simple…pick the dried fruits you like (ok so ideally there should be some sort raisin/sultana combo going on but you can add other things too) blitz together and you’re done. No cooking, no sugar, not fat and no mess. This will easily store in a jar for a few weeks and freezes well too….so make it now to see you through the holidays.

As noted above this recipe is fat free and sugar free….it’s just pure and simple and needs nothing more. The dates along with the other fruits give it all the sweetness it needs.

I have a couple of mincemeat recipes coming up.  I had planned on including the first recipe as part of this post, however the daylight faded before I’d finished in the kitchen so the photoshoot will have to take place tomorrow with recipe to follow.

Recipe: Mincemeat

Makes approx. 2 ½ cup

Ingredients

  • 1 cup raisins
  • 1 cup dried cranberries (I used the sweetened variety since I could not find unsweetened at the time)
  • 1 cup sultanas
  • ½ cup coarsely ground dates
  • ½ cup whole blanched almonds
  • 2 small to medium apples
  • grated rind of one orange
  • grated rind of one lemon
  • 1 tbs arrowroot/tapioca flour (or any fine flour) optional
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • ½ tsp mixed spice or nutmeg
  • 1 tsp rum extract (optional- I did not include this as it tasted great without)

Method

Peel and core the apples and chop into quarters. Chop the dates in a food processor to get a course meal. Add all the ingredients and process until you have a sticky chunky mixture. I added a tbs of arrowroot to absorb a little of the liquid and help bind the mix together but this is not a necessity. 

When I tasted the mixture I felt it really didn’t need the rum extract but feel free to add some at the end before a final whizz if you fancy. You could also include actual rum or brandy but again I didn’t feel it needed it and it would also have changed the consistency of the mixture.


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‘Twelve Days’ day 5: Stollen

Marzipan...marzipan...marzipan...!

When I was younger I didn't like the traditional Christmassy dried fruit extravaganza- Christmas cake, mince pies and Christmas pudding were all out for me as I was simply not a fan of raisins and currants.  My dad on the other hand loves the cake but doesn't like marzipan and so every Christmas as soon as the Christmas cake made its appearance from the tin I would make a beeline for his plate ready to 'help out' with the layer of marzipan and icing as it was peeled away from the top of his cake!

These days things are different. I like the fruit too!

But... I don't want to ignore the marzipan either so in the spirit of trying new things I thought I would put together a couple of marzipan recipes to get you going.

Obviously this could be no ordinary marzipan, it had to be a refined sugar free healthy marzipan!

So, first up is today’s recipe...Stollen.

Stollen is a traditional German spiced loaf and strangely enough I have never actually eaten it before. I was keen to make my own healthy version this year with a generous layer of marzipan running through its centre. The fruit I used was also a bit of a twist on tradition allowing for my personal favourites- dried apricot, sultanas and cranberries, they also add a lovely colour to the loaf but feel free to vary these fruits as you wish.

The stollen takes a while to make- but most of this is rising time (approx. 3 hours rising time in total) so as long as you plan ahead you can get on with other things, the actual method itself is pretty simple and the ‘active’ time spent is probably only 20-30 minutes.

The recipes for both the stollen and the marzipan are below. The marzipan recipe makes more than is needed for the cake...so there will be left overs for  the ‘Day 6’ little treats.... oh just wait until you see them, I'm excited just thinking about them!

Recipe: Stollen

Ingredients

  • 75g each of three dried fruits- I used sultanas, cranberries and apricots (chop up the apricots)
  • 75g ground almonds
  • Zest of one lemon
  • ½ tsp each of nutmeg and cinnamon
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 tsp almond extract (or an extra tsp vanilla)

-----------------

  • 375g mix of wholemeal and white flours as preferred (I used 175g wholemeal and 200g white spelt)
  • 1 sachet dried yeast (7g)
  • 50g rapadura
  • 1 tbs ground flax and 2 tbs hot water (mixed together and set aside for 5 minutes to gel)
  • 70g coconut oil
  • 150ml warm soy milk (or other non-dairy milk)

-----------------

  • 200g marzipan- see below for homemade version
  • Icing sugar for final dusting- optional

Method

Mix together the fruits, nuts, spices and extracts in a medium bowl. Once well mixed cover and set aside.

In another bowl (I used my Thermomix) mix together the flours, yeast, rapadura, flax mixture, coconut oil and soy milk. Mix to form dough and knead well (I used the TM dough setting for approx. 5 minutes) by hand for approx. 10 mins to ensure it binds together well. Place dough ball in a lightly oiled bowl and cover with cling film, leave to rise in a warm place for approx.. 90 minutes until it is roughly double in size.

Once risen, knead the fruit mix into the dough making sure it is well mixed through. If the dough becomes very sticky add a little more flour (I added another 25g). Cover and leave to rise for another 30minutes.

Whilst you are waiting for the dough to rise make the marzipan following the recipe below. Shape 2/3 of the marzipan into a log roughly 25cm long. Set aside the rest of the marzipan for ‘Day 6’  treats (or just roll into balls for nibbles).

Once the dough risen for the second time, knead briefly and roll out in a rectangle approx. 15mm thick. Place the marzipan log towards one edge running lengthways along the dough making sure it is slightly shorter than the length of the dough. Roll up the dough around the marzipan tucking into the ends as you go.

Place the stolen roll on a parchment lined baking sheet with the seam side down. Cover and leave to rise for approx. 1 more hour (we are nearly there I promise!!)

Preheat oven to 180C and bake stolen for approx. 40 minutes. If the surface strats to brown to early, loosely cover with tinfoil, test with a skewer when to check when done. Dust with icing sugar to serve if preferred.

Recipe: Marzipan

Ingredients

  • 100g ground almonds
  • 100g white coloured ‘healthy flour’ e.g spelt or other GF flour (I used a combination of buckwheat and tapioca flour)
  • 100g coconut butter
  • 50g agave (tiny pinch stevia)
  • 1 tsp almond extract (more if needed to taste)

Method

Blitz all ingredients in food processor until a sticky powdery ‘dough’. Press the dough into a small shallow tin to then slice into cubes, press into shaped silicone moulds or roll into balls etc. Leave to chill in fridge.

If you are making Stollen use approx. 2/3 of the mixture to form a log for the centre of the stolen loaf.

Note: you will probably find the dough feels oily as you mould it, this is just the oils from the coconut in the warmth of your hands. When cool the marzipan will not be oily.


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