oats

Spiced Oatmeal Stuffed Bramley Apples (Gluten Free + Vegan)

Ooooooh yeah, this is so autumn. English too, yep it’s definitely English.

bramley baked spiced applesI can’t begin to tell you how good these apples smelt when they were baking away. Oatmeal, cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger and maple syrup – you just know it don’t you?Apples + the works

Apples. Love. Oats. Adore. Nutmeg. Get in my life. Cinnamon. Oh wow, my one true love. Ginger. Yes please. Maple syrup. Oh golly. These are a few of my favourite things.Stuffed apple pre baking Yeah, you just know how much I liked this hey?    I say forget about long winded complicated desserts, sometimes you just want some rustic, simple sweet treats with a few quality ingredients. Something like spiced oatmeal stuffed bramley apples. They’re in season so get ’em while you can and stuff ’em any way you like but I recommend the spiced oatmeal mixture, a bit like fruit cake freshly baked in an apple.

Baked + stuffed apples

This reminded me of Christmas in taste and in smell……it’s far too early I know but people are already chatting Christmas crackers.DSC_8715

Did you know that these baked apples take 5 minutes to throw together via a spiced oatmeal stuffing. Watch them in the oven cos these have a tendency to expand, oh ok explode!DSC_8711

Take them to the next level with coconut cream, ice cream, custard or just simply a drizzle of maple syrup. Always add walnuts cos it looks pretty and it’s nice to look at pretty things.Pretty fruit

Here’s to stuffing our fruit more. Say no to boring fruit.A baked + stuffed apple

Spiced oatmeal stuffed bramley apples

5 large bramley apples, cored
1/2 cup gluten free oats
2 teaspoons dairy free butter or coconut oil
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon each of ginger + nutmeg
1/4 cup raisins or any dried fruit of choice

Preheat oven to 150ºC. Semi core each apple being sure not to pierce through to the other side. Use the corer to make a wide whole to fill with oatmeal.
Mix all the remaining ingredients together in a small bowl + stuff each apple compactly with the mixture. Bake in an oven proof dish for 30 minutes or until softened. Enjoy hot with your favourite ice cream.

The Very Healthy Cookie (GF + Vegan)

The healthiest cookie there is!I’m not just saying it, these are very healthy, incredibly so. I wouldn’t lie to you. A cookie doesn’t need to be rammed full of sugar and trans fats to taste great and ‘the very healthy cookie’ is proof of that.

A creamy oat base with vanilla undertones filled with gooey chocolate and chewy walnuts. Yeah, they’re really good.A very healthy cookie

I’m so over shop bought cookies, biscuits and cakes and the ‘extras’ they seem to come with. These ‘very healthy cookies’ are pure living proof that plant powered health food does indeed taste better than processed, manufactured sweets and even white sugar laden home baked goods. So easy to put together, literally throw it all in the bowl, mix and make balls. Cookie balls!Cookie process

I love using oat flavour for the texture, creamy taste and heart healthy benefits plus humble old oats are great for stabilising blood sugar and warding off sugar cravings. There’s a little sugar in these but levels can be altered to suit your tastes, I could have actually used a little less but its entirely dependant on how sweet your sweet tooth is. Although these look like quite a dense cookie, they’re in fact pretty light and not too crumbly to bite into with a softer rather than a crisper crumbly texture. You’re not left with a lap full of cookie crumbs after munching on these. Just the way I like ’em.

Perfect gluten free, whole food snacking.Cookies + chocolate chips

The Very Healthy Cookie (GF + Vegan)

(makes 15-20 small cookies)

140 grams oat flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
5 teaspoons brown sugar
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 cup walnuts
3 tablespoons dark chocolate chips (I used dairy free)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
6 tablespoons almond milk
2 tablespoons coconut oil

Method:

1. Preheat the oven to 195ºC. Combine the dry ingredients in a large mixing bowl.
2. Add the wet ingredients to the mixture, mixing thoroughly to form a workable dough. The oats will soak up much of this so add more milk if required.
3. Break small pieces off the dough and roll into balls, place on a baking tray + gently press down.
4. Bake for 10 minutes + leave to cool when removed from the oven.

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.

Nectarine + Apple Cobbler (GF)

Apple & nectarine cobblerDo you ever have random, superwoman type productive days when you get obscene amounts done? I have these, sporadically, and today was definitely one of those days. It makes me wonder where they come from, maybe the need to get a wriggle on, or something I ate, the sun shining…who knows. But today has been super productive in every way starting from wake up circuits class, delicious coconut oat breakfast with triple espresso (oh, maybe this is the reason!), the food shop, my day job and a delicious nectarine and apple cobbler which I’ve never made before.

The sun has shined all day which has made Thursday even more fabulous because whenever the sun shows up, everything and everyone cheers up and looks a little brighter. I’m lucky enough to be able to do a little of my work from home so I like to sit outside and enjoy our canal bank setting. I’m so in love with our apartment, although it’s not showy or big it’s just peaceful, calming and has a beautiful outlook. If the sun was shining a bit more then I’d have no complaints because being a complete sun head makes miserable dreary days such a drag. Today was so nice that I didn’t even want to go in and cook this delicious nectarine and apple cobbler, but in the end the temptation to try some proved too much.Apples

Traditionally, I’m pretty sure it’s peach that goes in a cobbler but I had a bowl of nectarines which were getting ripe on me so I knew my recipe had use these sweet things. Apples go pretty well with nectarines too, plus I needed something else to bulk the fruit mixture out as I like a substantial dessert. I’ve been making a lot of pies and crumbles lately so I kinda needed to do something else but it’s always a hard decision when your favourite is crumble, not that I’m fixated or anything! Eventually, I decided on a cobbler because I’d never made it before but more importantly not eaten one either. I’ve always associated cobbler with the USA, mainly because I’ve never ever heard an English person talk about the cobbler they had for pudding last night and really, it just sounds like an American dessert! Like corn bread, that screams USA to me!

Apple & nectarine cobbler

Anyway, I had a good idea of how it should be but I used an oat and almond scone base for a wheat free alternative and a nuttier and creamier flavour. Really, a cobbler is just a fruit mixture with scones on top, simple but very delicious. A word of warning: when you mix all the ingredients for the batter you have to really fight the urge to eat it raw. The smell and taste (yes, I ate a bit raw) is just too much, it’s better than cookie dough.

Apple & nectarine cobbler process

It’s the kind of dessert you want, actually need in your life because this gluten free nectarine + apple cobbler is just beautiful. The scones are light and airy with oat, almond and vanilla flavours. It’s 100% wholegrain, gluten free and each serving contains two portions of fruit with less than 300 calories a serving. This last point is impossible to believe but it’s true. I know it’s not always about the calories but sometimes it just is! For me, it’s those days when I’ve been to my Mum’s for a family lunch and I’ve eaten my own body weight in goodies. Yep, these are the days I want something a little lighter ‘cos heaven forbid I skip my dessert!

I hope you’ve had a super productive day too. I’d love to know what makes you more productive than usual?Apple & nectarine cobbler

Nectarine + apple cobbler

(serves 4)

4 nectarines, sliced
4 apples, sliced
1 teaspoon cornstarch in 2 tablespoons of water
12 tablespoons stevia (adjust to sweetness preferences)
pinch of salt
1 teaspoon cinnamon

scones:
1 cup oats (processed to flour)
1/4 cup almond meal
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 tablespoon Stevia
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 tablespoon coconut oil
1 egg
1/2 cup almond milk

Method:

1. Preheat oven to 200 ºC. Add the fruit filling ingredients to a large pan + simmer for 15-20 minutes.
2. Place the dry cobbler ingredients in a mixing bowl. In a separate bowl mix the remaining wet ingredients and add this to the dry mixture . Be sure to combine thoroughly + set aside for 5 minutes to thicken.
3. Transfer the fruit mixture to an oven proof baking dish + top with 4 heaping spoonfuls of the cobbler batter. Bake for 30 minutes.

 

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.

Lentil & Portobello Burger with a Quick Apricot Chutney – GF

Lentil & mushroom burgerKiller circuits this morning, a murderous self inflicted session in the living room! There was no trainer yelling at me to man up and give him twenty more, it was just Russ and I and we were going for it! In all honesty, when it’s just me I swear I don’t work out as hard but when we join forces and workout together it’s like we just push each other that bit harder. There’s an unspoken ‘keep it going’, ‘don’t be a god damn wimp’ type pressure and it’s pretty effective! This is why I love working out with someone else, time flies and it’s way more fun. Needless to say today’s Saturday session was a fabulous full body workout, followed by amazing stove top coffee and quinoa granola! But this isn’t even about granola, that granola was good though. This is about burgers, vegetarian patties, healthy bun fillers, veggie sliders….I’m always on the endless quest to find a great burger.

The great lentil portobello burger.

Lentil & mushroom burger with apricot chutney

These lentil based beauties are bursting with rich umami flavours resulting from a hearty mix  of onion, garlic, mushrooms, parmesan, soy sauce and red wine. They have a rich, earthy, savoury taste and a pleasant texture which firms up nicely after a quick fry and a good grilling. There are so many options when it comes to plant based burgers but this is ideal for those looking for a slightly richer flavour and hoping to avoid some of mushier bean varieties.Lentil & mushroom burger process

It’s pretty filling too and satisfied a ravenous circuit induced hunger nicely. The apricot chutney is definitely a good friend to this burger with a sticky, smokey sweetness shining all over the bun and down my fingers! We had our burger in polenta topped buns with lettuce, tomato and onion and it was good.Lentil & mushroom burger with salad

Who’s your workout buddy? Do you push yourself that bit harder when you have someone with you?

Lentil mushroom burger & a quick apricot chutney

(makes 2 ‘big’ and 4 normal burgers- we made 2 of course)

1/2 white onion, chopped finely
1 clove garlic, minced
1 cup of portobello mushrooms, chopped finely
1 carrot, grated
splash red wine
1/2 teaspoon thyme
1 tablespoon soy sauce
1.2 cup cooked lentils
1/4 cup vegetarian parmesan, grated
1/2 cup oats
1 egg
parsley, chopped
oil for frying

apricot chutney

6 small apricots, chopped
i cup water
2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon sugar
dash of cinnamon
1 tablespoon liquid smoke or chipotle sauce

Method:

1. Saute the onion, garlic, mushrooms & carrots for 5 minutes. Add the red wine, soy sauce, thyme & cooked lentils. Keep on a low heat until all liquid has evaporated. Transfer to a bowl & allow to cool a little.
2. Add the oats, parmesan, parsley & egg to the cooled mixture, combining thoroughly. Set aside for 30 minutes.
3. Shape into 2 large or 4 smaller burger patties.  Transfer to a greased frying pan for 5 minutes to set on one side. Turn over and finish under a medium grill for 10 minutes or until firm to the touch & browned. Reduce grilling slightly if making 4 burgers from the mixture.
4. Enjoy in a bun with salad and liberal quantities of apricot chutney.

For the pickle:

Combine all ingredients and simmer on a low heat until apricots have softened & the chutney has a sticky appearance. Add more water if necessary. Transfer to a serving dish to cool.

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