Tag Archive | snacks

Cranberry and Cinnamon Granola Bars

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Wheat free/lactose free/can be made vegan & gluten free

I never want to see another flapjack again.

Allow me to elaborate…

The gods of medicine have seen fit to impose upon me a fun list of strange dietary requirements. While I can get around this easily enough at meal times, finding vaguely healthy and edible snack foods can be a real headache. Added to the fact that I cannot digest many things, my place of work has a strict no-nuts policy. A little while ago I settled on homemade fruit flapjacks as a suitable solution. Trouble is, after a year of eating them nearly every weekday I need a break.

Dietary requirements aside, I’ve found it surprisingly difficult to find recipes for simple, healthy(ish) snack bars. All a general googling turns up are flapjacks and granola bars. Everything else out there seems to involve vast amounts of either chocolate, sugar, biscuit or nuts. While I have nothing against vast amounts of the above (preferably all together, with some butter and marshmallows…mmm…) it’s not exactly something I should be eating every day.

I have held out against making granola bars for a long time. Mainly because of the haunting spectre of this trope looking over my shoulder. After seriously having had my fill of flapjacks though, I gave in and tried granola bars.

I tried literally the first recipe I found, which was this one from the BBC’s Good Food site. I didn’t have any suitable oats in the house at the time so used up some old spelt flakes I had hanging around at the back of the cupboard instead. It turns out the result is pretty much the same. While this recipe does contain an awful lot more sugar than my usual flapjack recipe, I have to admit it is pretty delicious and provides a welcome respite.

Recipe notes

All of the recipes for granola bars that I’ve found start with the step of toasting your grains and seeds first. I’ve tried this and have been very confused because even after toasting for double than the amount of recommended time, my grains and seeds look almost exactly the same. I’ve still been doing it because it’s in all the recipes and I figure, what do I know? It must be doing something.

 

 

The original recipe on the Good Food website includes walnuts. I have tried cooking this both with and without the walnuts now and frankly, I can’t taste the difference. I have change the types of seed though so maybe that’s why.

As I mentioned, I have used spelt flakes instead of oats in this recipe, purely because that was what I had lurking in the cupboard. They taste lovely but aren’t gluten free.

Ingredients

  • 100g butter (or vegan substitute)
  • 200g whole rolled spelt flakes
  • 200g mixed seeds (I used pumpkin, sunflower & linseed)
  • 3 tbsp honey
  • 100g light muscovado sugar
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 100g dried cranberries

Method

  1. Grease a roasting tin with butter or line it with greaseproof paper (my preferred solution as it make it easier to get things out). Mix the spelt flakes and seeds in the tin, then toast in the oven for 5-10 mins at 150°C.
  2. While that does whatever invisible thing it’s supposed to be doing, warm the butter, honey and sugar in a pan and stir until melted.granola bars 3.jpggranola bars 4.jpg
  3. Add the spelt/seed mix, cinnamon and dried fruit, then mix it all up until everything is coated in sugary, sugary goodness.granola bars 6.jpg
  4. Tip into the tin, press down lightly, then bake at 150°C for 30 mins.granola bars 7.jpg
  5. After it’s cooked, some molten sugar may seep out of the sides if it doesn’t quite fill the tin (my roasting tin is pretty big). Just smoosh it back in with a spoon. Do not try to eat the molten sugar while hot. I speak from experience. granola bars 8.jpg
  6. Cool in tin, then cut into 12 bars. Do not try to cut it while warm as it just falls apart and sticks to the knife and your hand. And then you have to eat loads of it off your hand. And then you notice that it has fallen all over the floor. And then the cat tries to eat the floor because it’s now apparently made of warm butter. And then you try to pick up the cat. And then you realise that you are all sticky and you have now just stuck to the cat. And then the cat tries to eat you. Be warned.

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Fun with Flapjacks

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(Yes, my life really is this exciting)

wheat free/gluten free/vegan

So, Monday sees me going back to work after a little holiday and I am standing in the kitchen again staring at my empty lunchbox wondering what on earth I’m going to do about it this time.

I hate lunch. It is my bête noir. I have never really enjoyed standard Western lunch foods and it’s even tricker now wheat and dairy are out of the picture. Lunch time at home usually sees my moodily crunching on some toast and fantasising about expensive sushi banquets. Fortunately, I am lucky enough to work at a place that has jacket potatoes in the cafeteria every day so at least I can bring in my own vegan cheese and have someting nutritious and filling for lunch at work.

But that still leaves me with the rest of the day…

I work fairly long hours so snacks are a necessity if I am not to swoon like some Victorian maiden in a Gothic novel. There are only so many bananas a girl can eat so I have been experimenting recently with alternatives to the expensive (and often sugar-loaded) gluten free vegan cereal bars that I had been relying on for my afternoon snack. What I didn’t want to do however was spend hours of my free time cooking food for work so I settled on flapjacks as a good start. I’m hoping that despite still being in the “naughty” category of food in my mind due to their calorie content, flapjacks will at least be partially healthy and a lot more filling. They are quick, cheap, easy and require very little washing up or prep time so they have at least delivered on that score. Having never made flapjacks before I looked for the most basic recipe I could find so that it could be easily modified. I found a good one on AllRecipes.co.uk (http://allrecipes.co.uk/recipe/34253/simple-honey-flapjacks.aspx) and so far I have made 4 batches, changing it slightly each time.

Recipe Notes

  • To make this 100% gluten free make sure that you use specific gluten free oats – normal oats are not guaranteed to be gluten free unless it says so on the packet.
  • When adding the extra ingredients, I found it easiest to mix any spices/essences with the melted honey and oil before adding the rest as it coated it all more evenly.
  • In terms of quantities, I just threw in handfuls until it looked about right – there wasn’t much method to it. If adding extra dry ingredients such as the desiccated coconut however, it’s best to add a little extra oil or remove some of the oats so that the mixture isn’t too dry.
  • I used a roasting tin (the kind you do roast potatoes in) lined with baking parchment to make my flapjacks in but you can use any kind of baking tray or tin really. The paper makes them a lot easier to lift out though.

Basic Ingredients

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Molten honey and “butter” – could there be a better smell?

  • 200g coconut oil
  • 300g oats
  • 7-8 tablespoons honey

Method

1. Melt the coconut oil in a saucepan.

2. Turn off the heat and stir in the honey and oats.

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Stage 2

3. Line a roasting pan with greaseproof paper and tip the mixture into it, flattening it down with the back of a spoon until it is as thick as you think a flapjack should be. Use a knife or a pizza cutter to cut it into squares.

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I like my flapjacks thin – here is a teaspoon for refernce.

 

 

4. Bake for approximately 20mins at 180C or until the top is toasted a nice golden colour.

1st attempt  

Basic recipe plus: raisins, pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds, linseeds, sesame seeds (my local health food shop does a great 4 seed pre-mix) and extra chia seeds.

These tasted great and sort of, well, mostly held together but it was a lot of seeds. Anyone with a delicate digestive system (like me) might want to reduce the amount slightly.

2nd attempt

Basic recipe plus: raisins, desiccated coconut, rum flavouring, lime juice, 4 seed mix

These were my least favourite and didn’t hold together so well. Bizarrely, they tasted better after 24hrs in the biscuit tin however.

3rd attempt

Basic recipe plus: half of the coconut oil substituted for vegan sunflower spread, raisins, cinnamon, ginger, vanilla essence, much less seed mix than before.

These taste quite bland but pleasant and hold together nicely.

4th attempt

Sunflower spread instead of coconut oil, 4 tbs honey, 250g oats, 50g desiccated coconut, a handful each of raisins, crystallised pineapple and papaya pieces, 1/3 tsp powdered ginger.

My favourite so far. The sugar in the crystalized fruit means that less honey is needed but the mixture still holds together very well. The ginger adds a warming note – next time I might even add a little more and the flavours work beautifully together. The vegan spread works much better than the coconut oil I think and gives it a more “buttery” flavour which is what I want in a flapjack.

I will be trying more of these variations as time goes on so will let you know of any good ones I come across. Or, if anyone has any good suggestions I will bake them and see.