Breakfasts

Peanut Butter + Brown Rice Granola Bars (GF+ Vegan)

Granola bars + white chocolateIt’s finally happened. After all these years of hoping, praying and wishing only to be faced with the disappointment of not being quite there. But then just out of nowhere, boom (I just have to stop saying this word, I’m 32) and I’m there, success. I’ll never forget this day.

Peanut butter + brown rice granola bars of course. I’ve finally found what I’ve been hoping for. They just work for me, a granola bar that’s so crazy tasty, ridiculously healthy and holds together perfectly. Like I dropped it on the gravel and it didn’t even flinch, not even a chip on the the side. I really didn’t think it was possible but here’s a granola bar with spot on taste, a chewy texture and an impressive health rating. The other thing I like about these is they’re super good value too, often I find that granola bar recipes contain a lot of pricey superfood ingredients. These peanut butter + brown rice bars use simple, healthy, using widely available and very cheap ingredients. Each bar cost less than 25 pence which is a steal when compared to how much store bought varieties are.Granola bar process

The urge to get some white chocolate involved proved a little too much and why not because these are spectacularly good for you, too good really. They’re so tasty I had no choice but to have two with my coffee, it’s almost as if the decision was out of my control. No worries though, the recipe makes 14 good sized bars so with 10 remaining I can divide these with Russ for our weekday work snacks – 2 for him and 8 for me. Sorted!chopping

Here’s why you need these in your life:

utterly delicious
100 % whole grain
gluten free
high in B vitamins+ potassium
high in heart friendly monounsaturated fats
sweetened naturally with maple syrup
a good protein source
breakfast on the runStoring granola bars

As if you need any more convincing but what the hell we’ll go for some bonus points. These bars are extremely easy to put together, I’m talking 5 minutes and they require zero baking time. You can use the nut butter of your choice and add any of your personal granola bar favourites. These don’t need the white chocolate drizzle as such, but I just love the peanut butter and white chocolate combo so yes, I guess they do need it!

I do hope you’re having a fabulous day!A granola bar pile up

Peanut butter + brown rice granola bars

(makes 16)

1 1/2 cups brown rice cereal
1 1/4 cups gluten free oats
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 vanilla pod, seeds scraped out
1/4 cup maple syrup
3/4 cup natural smooth peanut butter
2 tablespoons coconut oil

chocolate drizzle:

1/4 cup dairy free white chocolate
2 tablespoons coconut oil

1. Add the brown rice cereal, oats & salt to a large mixing bowl. Stir until evenly distributed.
2. Meanwhile, add the remaining ingredients to a pan & simmer over a low heat until fully combined.
3. Add the cereal mix to the pan (or the wet mix to a bowl if the pan is too small) & combine with the  wet ingredients thoroughly. Transfer to a greased 9X13″ baking pan.Press down evenly so that the mixture is compact.
4. Place in the freezer for 45-60 minutes until set. Remove & slice into 12-16 bars.
5. Melt the white chocolate & coconut oil over a low heat. Spoon this over the cereal bars & place in the freezer for 15 minutes until set. Store in an airtight container.

Grain Free Coconut, Apple + Cinnamon Muffins – GF + Paleo

DSC_6649Panic over! I thought I’d run out of coconut flour but  I managed to scoop just enough out (just) to make these amazing muffins. Yes, they really are amazing because they’re grain free and low sugar but taste delicious! Of course I was too happy to make a muffin with all three of my favourite ingredients – obviously coconut flour was involved but so were my over lovers, cinnamon and apple. I just love these two together, what legends.A lot of eggs!

That’s exactly what I thought too: such a lot of eggs! The thing is coconut flour isn’t like those other grains, it sucks up any fluid put it’s way and these eggs help to bind the mixture which creates a moist yet low carb muffin. The apple and cinnamon just transport these to another level for me and the honey adds just the right sweetness. I’ve been eating them all week and they are goooood, just sweet enough, deliciously spiced with cinnamon, nicely light but still moist with apple and raisins.A lot of muffins!

What’s more is they’re wholesome, natural with endless selling points: grain free, low carb, high in medium chain fatty acids (they’re good fats and the ones the body doesn’t readily store but would rather use as energy), blood sugar regulating, fibre rich and a protein kick to boot. Are you’re sold yet? These didn’t last long because they’re the perfect snack and tick off all of the criteria from my snack wish list: easy to transport, delicious, healthy, low carb/high fat, contains at least one form of coconut, cinnamon friendly and a provider steady energy. Job done.A ray of sunshine!

These light and tasty treats are perfect with an afternoon cup of tea. They’re healthy enough to go with breakfast too, really they’re just screaming out ‘healthy snack’ for any time of the day!

What’s your ideal afternoon snack?Deliciously moist coconut muffin

Grain free coconut, apple + cinnamon muffins

(makes 10-12)

5 eggs
1 tablespoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup coconut flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 apple, grated
1/4 cup nut milk
1/4 cup coconut oil
handful raisins
1 tablespoon honey

Method:

1. Preheat the oven to 200 ºC. In a mixing bowl, whisk (or blend) all the ingredients (apart from raisins) thoroughly ensuring a smooth batter.
2. Fold through the raisins & allow to stand for 5-10 minutes. Line a muffin tray with paper cases & spoon 1 tablespoon of the mixture into each case.
3. Bake for 15 minutes until the muffins are brown & not too soft to touch.
4. Leave to cool before removing & storing.

Goodness Green Spinach, Kiwi + Spirulina Smoothie

Putting the green into a green smoothie!I cannot tell you how happy I am to be drinking green smoothies. Why oh why has it taken so long for me to start this habit? I am loving my Vitamix too, who knew such a simple thing could do so many amazing things. Anyway, this is the first (of many!) green smoothies I’ll be making in this little darling. I’m not sure if you’ve ever seen the Thomas Crown Affair remake (the one with Pierce Brosnan), I think I was about 18 when I watched it. Anyway, there’s a scene with Renee Russo drinking one of these green smoothies and I remember wondering what the hell it was! Randomness, I know but I felt the urge to share that. It also goes to show how the US are space ages ahead when it comes to certain super foods and health crazes. Green juicing has become pretty mainstream now but I have to say the office were still a little taken back by my large glass jar crammed full of green stuff! It’s literally everywhere though, I watched ‘Fat, Sick & Nearly Dead’ the other night and was amazed by how juicing can actually transform lives. Of course these people were extreme cases and personally I couldn’t juice for extended periods of time but it really opened my eyes to the health benefits of a time limited juice diet.Smoothie making

This particular smoothie contains spirulina which of course is entirely optional but gee whizz it gives a superb health boost and really puts the GREEN into a green smoothie. This amazing post on Mind Body Green is all the evidence I need to put a teaspoon into my greens. I buy this green algae from Holland & Barrett but there are good bargains to be had on Ebay too.DSC_6594

I’m the first to admit it isn’t exactly pretty but the taste is utterly delicious! The kiwi, banana and almond milk balance out the spinach and spirulina flavours perfectly, resulting in a silky, smooth, supercharged health tonic that has you feeling on top of the world! Of course, if the spirulina makes this green smoothie just a little too green for your taste, just leave it out.Spirulina smoothie

It’s near impossible to list the vitamin and mineral boost this drink provides but let’s just say there’s hefty amounts of vitamin A, B1, B2, C, E, K, magnesium, potassium, calcium and tryptophan. It’s high in fibre and protein and the perfect health tonic for a pick me up late afternoon or as part of a power breakfast.Smoothie all gone!

Spinach, kiwi + spirulina smoothie

(serves 1)

2 handfuls fresh spinach
1 kiwi, skin removed
1/2 frozen banana
1 teaspoon spirulina (optional)
1 cup almond milk

Place all the ingredients in a blender and blitz on high for 45 seconds or until smooth. Enjoy the goodness.

Easy No Bake Granola Bars

Easy no bake granola barsMy Vitamix arrived yesterday morning and at first I was scared of it so I left it in the box, all day. Today I thought I should get her out, so I reluctantly did and I’m glad now because I was pleasantly surprised by her sleek, fuss free, two switch appearance. It was the simplicity and lack of dials that did it for me, I have no desire to play around with numerous gadgets and add ons so this is just the ticket. I’m clutter phobic, especially when it comes to pointless gadgets, so this is me, very me. I have an aversion to large, bulky, complicated ‘things’ and some of the models I was looking at were frankly quite scary and intimidating. It’s OK though cos the Vitamix and I are getting along just fine. So anyway, not daunted by these two switches I really wanted to pulse something to oblivion to see what this baby could do! Dates seemed like a good place to start so I blitzed a whole bag of them into a big gooey ball! Wow, the thing is mighty powerful but I didn’t actually think about what I was going to do to with my dates post Vitamix treatment! After staring at them for  a good five minutes wondering what to make I decided on granola bars.Granola bars ready for the cut!

Never having made a proper granola bar before this seemed like the most suitable destination for my pulsed dates. I’ve eaten plenty but have never been bowled over by a particular brand and the majority have a disappointingly high sugar content. Many boast of ‘all natural ingredients’ on the sleek packaging fooling us into thinking they’re healthy but sugar is natural, right! Another downside is the price, why are they such a rip off? Never mind, my first world problem is now solved with these beauties. Easy & good value granola bars

These worked out fabulously for my first shot at cereal bars. I focused on creating a wet ingredient consistency that would bind well with the dry bits and the whole mixture came together nicely.  They do hold together well but I still wouldn’t want one jiggling around in my handbag, not unless I fancied granola instead! I’m not talking break a tooth sturdy but rather a chewy robustness that will take a few knocks here and there. Anyhow, these are better than any health store bar I’ve had, by miles and they’re just the start of my mission to produce a robust, tooth friendly and delicious cereal bar.  I’m very happy with this bar for now though.Easy no bake granola process

Right, a bit about the ingredients. I used almonds and sunflower seeds purely because they’re a favourite but I suppose any nuts / seeds can be supplemented here. I like to toast the oats and nuts because it really brings out the flavour, plus it smells heavenly. The peanut butter can be replaced by any nut butter and the honey for agave or maple syrup. Chocolate, dried fruit and other cereal would also make good additions. They’re pretty adaptable and can be changed to suit your store cupboard, as long as the wet and dry ratios are kept similar to the original recipe. I bet you even have the ingredients to make some now?

So, what’s your secret to a granola bar that can handle a ride in my handbag? Is there a secret ingredient?Yummy granola bars

Easy no bake granola bars

1 cup pitted dates
1 1/2 cups oats
1/2 cup almonds
1/2 cup sunflower seeds
pinch of salt
1/4 cup natural peanut butter
1/4 cup clear honey

Method:

1. Pulse the dates until a doughy ball forms. Remove & place in a large mixing bowl.
2. Toast the oats, almonds and seeds over a low heat for 10 minutes. Alternatively place in a medium heat oven for 10 minutes.
3. In a pan over a low heat, combine the peanut butter, honey, salt & date mixture until well blended. Add to the oat mixture and combine fully.
4. Line a 8″X15″ baking pan with plastic wrap or grease proof paper. Press mixture into pan evenly and compact.
5. Freeze for 30 minutes. Slice in to 10 bars. Store in an airtight container.

Peach, Maple & Cinnamon Rice Pancakes – GF

Rice pancakes & peachesA randomly acquired food rule I broke yesterday: Pancakes are reserved for weekends or holidays. Yeah right!

Well first up, what a silly rule and such a terrible way to live! To think about all those weekdays I’ve been missing out on my own personal pancake (well these are more crepe like) party. I suppose I’ve always associated pancake breakfasts with lazy weekends or scenes from American sitcoms where nobody’s in a rush to get to work. But these aren’t even time consuming. In fact, they’re quick, very quick, so I’m gonna make a point of eating these during the week in the hope of tricking myself! If this means I’m late for work then so be it, my pancake stack is worth it. I’m worth it!Peachy pancakes

As if being delicious isn’t enough, these are a great way to start the day and an excellent canvas for adding fruit and other delicious extras. I’m trying to eat less gluten so rice flour provides a tasty alternative  to wheat. These are a little heavier than they would be if you used almond or oat flour but the overall result is pretty satisfying. I love peaches, especially when they’re on the verge of over ripe. Yep, I reckon peaches are my favourite fruit and I love them even more with cinnamon and sticky syrup. These would work with any fruit really, dress them up or down, they’re easy going and accepting of most additions. Just be sure not to eat all your fruit before the pancakes are finished, like me! How can anyone in their right mind slice a ripe juicy peach and leave it alone? Peachy pancake process

These are just too simple not to make, enjoy them any way you want them. Be sure to break your own food rules and take some time over breakfast…..even if it makes you a few minutes late!

Peach, maple & cinnamon rice pancakes

(Serves 1)

50 grams rice flour
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 organic egg
1/4 pint coconut/almond milk
1 tablespoon maple syrup
coconut oil, for frying
1 ripe peach, sliced
Maple syrup for drizzling

Method:

1. Combine the rice flour, cinnamon and salt in a bowl. Place milk in a measuring jug, adding the egg and maple syrup.
2. Combine the wet and dry ingredients to form a smooth batter.
3. Heat the coconut oil in a pan and add a ladle of batter. Cook on each side for a minute and transfer to a warm plate. Repeat until batter is finished.
4. Arrange pancakes and peaches on a plate. Drizzle with maple syrup. Enjoy.

Quinoa, Coconut & Blueberry Granola – GF & Vegan

Quinoa & blueberry granola

I was lucky enough to travel Peru last year and over the course of several weeks I ate my own body weight in this grain, what with daily helpings of quinoa cereal, quinoa soup and quinoa veggies! Needless to say, it was a tad overload and me and quinoa went on a break. Clearly this was just a temporary hitch because we’re now back in business, as we should be because this really is a super amazing whole grain. Just 1 cup of  this cooked inca grain has more than 8 grams of protein and to me that’s pretty good BUT there’s more. Not only is the protein content impressive, it’s the type of protein that really gives this grain the winning edge. Quinoa (like chia seeds!) has the perfect balance of 9 amino acids and is therefore a COMPLETE protein, like the type found in meat. I make a point of arming myself with these lovely facts in answer to the  well meant ‘but where do you get your protein from?’ queries! But it’s OK, quinoa is just one of many super protein sources available to vegetarians – I really like this post by ultraman Rich Roll on his top 7. Posts like this just reinforce how amazing a plant based diet is, it really does provides us with everything we need and much more.DSC_5877

Not only is quinoa is a vegetarian’s best friend, it’s pretty versatile stuff too.  If you can cook rice, you can cook quinoa and like rice, it can be a breakfast, lunch or dinner. This super grain of the Incas is perfect for porridge, veggie stuffing, planting in salads, on it’s lonesome or as a base of crunchy, sweet, nutty granola. Quinoa granola works particularly well and it can be put together in a jiffy for a week’s worth of protein jacked breakfasts. The coconut oil and honey add a sweet smooth flavour to the clusters and allow the quinoa, oats and nuts to form a light crisp texture, kind of granola-esque!Granola ingredients

This cereal is packed full of healthy fats, protein and fibre, providing a satisfying and low GI start to the day. Adding fresh fruit will ramp up the vitamin and mineral content and fortified nut milks will give a calcium boost too.  Delicious served with ice cold milk, on oatmeal, yoghurt or simply on it’s own from the jar.Granola & banana

Quinoa, coconut & blueberry granola

(6 servings)

1 cup uncooked quinoa
1 cup gluten free oats
1/2 cup dried blueberries
1/2 cup slivered almonds
1/4 cup pumpkin seeds
1/4 cup sunflower seeds
1/2 cup desiccated or shaved coconut
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup coconut oil
3 tablespoons honey or maple syrup

Method:

1. Preheat the oven to 180 ºC. In a large bowl combine all the ingredients except coconut oil & honey.
2. Melt the coconut oil & whisk in the honey. Add this to the large bowl & combine all the ingredients until thoroughly coated.
3. Place the mixture on a large baking tray and place in the middle of the oven for 25 minutes. Turn clusters over mid way through baking taking care not to over brown.

Note: If using larger sized nuts it’s advisable to add these at the start followed by smaller nuts & seeds half way through the total baking time for an even bake. The total bake time may need to extended by 5-10 minutes.

Paleo Almond Pancakes & Quick Blueberry Compote – GF

Take two!

I have a confession to make…

These pancakes didn’t turn out as I’d planned and that was a problem for me because I’m still unlearning being a perfectionist. It wasn’t a disaster, not even close, they were delicious. They just didn’t look exactly as I’d expected and this bothered me, at first. So I tried again and although they came out neater, plumper and cuter, guess what? They still tasted the same, they were still delicious, they weren’t a failure, they were just flatter and randomly shaped.Bleberry almond pancake

Just two simple things, less milk and a little baking soda, resulting in a thicker batter second time round. I remember now, I poured in a tad too much milk, this is what happens when you’re hungry and making delicious pancakes! The hand shakes, the concentration slips, you get the picture. It’s actually a good thing I made these again because now I know not to make pancakes when you’re really hungry! At least I got to have a double helping pancakes, every cloud all. The thing is though, I don’t actually like perfect, or neat and tidy either.  This wasn’t the problem. My perfectionist brain was the problem,  they were NOT how she had pictured and she wasn’t amused. Eventually she got lost!

Blueberry almond pancakes second time lucky!“Have no fear of perfection – you’ll never reach it.”  Salvador DaliImperfect pancakes

You can tell the difference, right? These darn almond pancakes aren’t supposed to be perfect and they weren’t, by any stretch of the imagination. These are perfectly imperfect Paleo pancakes. Perfect isn’t welcome here anyhow. But the taste, the taste was delicious and this is the important part because delicious and healthy is the aim of the game.

A bit about the pancakes. Made from almond flour, these are perfectly Paleo and although I’m not a Paleo girl myself, I do see the benefits of going a little easier on the grain. Almond flour like coconut and peanut flours is ideal for baking these low carbohydrate recipes. Almond flour is a favourite of mine because I adore almonds with their sweet, fragrant creaminess- the main reason why I was a cherry bakewell and marzipan fiend as a child.. So making pancakes with flour and milk from the delectable almond is quite exciting for me and if it turns out that I have a few less grains, that’s just a bonus.Almond pancakes & blueberry compote

Another thing about these pancakes is they’re super filling but not in a lead brick afternoon slump full but more a light, energised ‘I’m super productive’ way! What’s more is they’re fluffy, nutty and sweet with a blueberry compote that’s way too delicious for just 3 ingredients. Just perfect.

It all gets messy in the end.
It all gets messy in the end.

Paleo Almond pancakes & quick blueberry compote

(serves 2)

1 cup almond flour
2 eggs
1/2 cup almond milk
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon of maple syrup
coconut oil for frying
extra maple syrup for serving

For the blueberry compote:

1 cup blueberries
1 tablespoon of stevia
3 tablespoons water

Method:

1. Place the dry ingredients in a bowl. In a measuring jug whisk the milk, egg & syrup. Combine the wet & dry ingredients, whisking thoroughly.
2. Heat the coconut oil in a griddle pan over a low heat. Ladle a spoonful of batter into the pan & cook until golden brown and just set. Flip & repeat until batter is all gone.
3. Serve warm stacked pancakes with blueberry compote & extra maple syrup.

Blueberry compote:

Heat all three ingredients over a low heat and simmer for 10 minutes or until desired consistency.

Beer Bread

Perfect with a pot of tea.
Perfect with a pot of tea.

Introducing beer and bread.

Bread making looks like such a lot of work and this always puts me off making my own. Don’t get me wrong, I love cooking but not only is there already a huge variety of bread pre-made, packaged and all set for my trolley but there’s always something I’d rather make more than a loaf.  So I’ve never actually made bread and this needs to change  for several reasons. Here are three of them: 1)We all know the shop bought stuff is full of unnecessary additives. 2) I’ve heard bread making is therapeutic, who doesn’t want free therapy? 3)I just want to get good at bread!

I’m starting basic though. I thought I’d give beer bread a shot as it’s one of the few breads I can’t  find in the supermarket. Also, this beer loaf is not like those other bread recipes. No kneading, no resting and no yeast involved. How divinely simple. Sometimes you just don’t want complicated and time consuming but rather, easy and quick. Isn’t everything already complicated enough?

Easiest recipe ever, no concentration needed.

There are lots of beer bread recipes out there and most use three basic ingredients but I decided to wing it a little and came up with this. It turned out pretty good and is delicious with savoury and sweet things. Using wholemeal flour not only increases the fibre content but adds a nutty flavour too (I don’t much like white bread anyway). I brushed the top of the loaf with butter and topped with seeds mid way through cooking for added crunch and protein.  Oh, and of course I used a bottle of strong beer. I love beer and I love bread so I’m wondering why it’s taken me so long to make this easy peasy loaf!

Enjoy slathered in butter, jam or honey with a hot cup of tea.  Alternatively, serve as an accompaniment to a hearty soup.

Bread and jam collage

Now I’ve got the bread making bug. Next time I might get involved with yeast and kneading.

Beer Bread

(makes 12 slices)

375 grams wholemeal self raising flour
2 tablespoons of sugar
1/2 teaspoon of salt
330 ml of BEER (I used IPA extra strength)
1/4 cup of seeds (optional but recommended!)
butter & extra seeds for coating 10 minutes before the end.

  1. Place the flour, sugar & salt in a mixing bowl and stir through the beer until well combined. If using add the seeds at this point.
  2. Transfer the mixture to a greased loaf tin and bake on 180 º C for 50 minutes. If desired remove from the oven 10 minutes before the end and brush lightly with melted butter and top with extra seeds.
  3. Remove from the oven and transfer to a wire rack to cool.

 

Raspberry Bomb Coconut Muffins

These are the bomb!
These are the bomb!

A coconut thing.

My love of coconut is way out of control, I slip some of this exotic fruit into most meals! Whole coconuts, flaked coconut, desiccated coconut, creamed coconut, coconut milk, coconut oil, coconut butter….coconut anything! Anyway, I needed something yummy to brighten this seriously dull Sunday. It’s ‘British summertime’ and the sun has disappeared with a sky so grey that there is no sky. *Sigh. Hence a need for some kitchen therapy and some yummy goodness in my life. Plus, I need some snackage for the work week ahead. I found these muffins on All Recipes which I tweaked to create a sugar free lower glycemic muffin. I managed to incorporate coconut in three forms: milk, oil and desiccated. Bonus!

Totally inspired by all the silly best of both/half and half bread products out there, I made these 50% whole wheat  and 50% white (well it’s OK if it’s cake but come on just get with the wholegrain bread and be a man!). So, enter the ‘best of both’ sugar free (splendid stevia), raspberry (I used St Dalfours French Jam as it’s sweetened naturally with grape juice) bomb coconut muffins.

Raspberry bomb muffinsUmmmmmmmmmm. My Mum’s two favourite things happen to be coconut and raspberries so I’m going to drop some round this afternoon because I’m nice like that!

Raspberry Bomb Coconut Muffins

(makes 12)

125g plain flour
125g whole wheat flour
175g stevia
3 handfuls desiccated coconut
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
1 egg
90ml coconut oil
200ml Koko (coconut) milk
1/2 jar good quality raspberry jam

Method:

1. Preheat the oven to 190 ºC. Line a muffin tin with twelve cases.
2. Put all the dry ingredients into a large bowl.
3. In another bowl, lightly beat together the egg, oil and milk.
4. Mix the wet and dry ingredients together. The mixture should be fairly thick.
5. Put 1 1/2 dessertspoons of mixture into each of the cases. Then put half a teaspoon of the jam onto the mixture. Add another dessertspoon of mixture to cover the jam.
6. Sprinkle each with a little more coconut.
7. Bake for 20 – 25 minutes or until the muffins are a lovely golden brown colour.

Allow to cool completely & enjoy with a cuppa.

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