Easy Peasy peanut and raisin cookies

When it comes to making sweet treats at home I have a very simple check list…

  • Quick & easy to make
  • As few ingredients as possible
  • Good for you!

These cookies definitely fit the bill, they are so yummy and only take 10 minutes to bake! So if you want something soft, sweet and delicious without feeling guilty then put 5 minutes aside to make them and by the time you have made a brew and decided what to watch on Netflix  they’ll be ready!

When sweet treats are very indulgent you might only want to make them for a special occasion or at the weekend when you have more time but what I love about these little beauties is they are so easy! You can do them anytime and they are great to have as a snack at work or in the evening when you fancy something sweet after dinner.

The sweetener in these cookies is maple syrup which is something I used to only ever use on top of pancakes but it’s great for baking and is  a brilliant natural sweetener as long as you get the  right kind. If you are ever unsure check the label as lots of brands use “maple flavoured syrup” or if there is a list of alien ingredients you can’t even begin to pronounce then it’s a no go – natural is 100%!

There are a few different brands I have bought in the past including “Buckwud” and “Clarks Pure Maple Syrup” that you can get from supermarkets such as Morrisons, Sainsburys and Asda and they are on offer quite frequently. More recently though I discovered that Aldi do their own brand which is 100% natural for £2.99 for a 250ml bottle!

Maple syrup is made from the sap that circulates inside a maple tree. When extracted, it’s heated to remove any water and filtered to get rid of any impurities and that’s it, no chemicals are added, just natural sweetness straight from a tree! There are different grades that you can buy too which are based on the darkness in colour, this is down to the time of year the sap is extracted. It also contains high levels of antioxidants and minerals such as manganese and zinc which are good for healthy bones and joints, as well as  helping your blood to clot. The zinc is especially important for your immune system to helping fight off infection.

Although it’s a natural sugar and has a weaker affect on your blood sugar levels than refined sugar does, it still should still be consumed in moderation.  If you are eating too much sugar on a daily basis your body will start producing more insulin to try to reduce your blood sugar levels by storing it as fat which increases the risk of obesity and diabetes. Not all sugar is the same though, so I will be doing a more in-depth post soon on why this is and some healthier natural alternatives you can switch to. If you aren’t already, follow me on Instagram & Twitter using the links on the right on through the homepage for regular updates.

Makes approximately 12 cookies

  • 40g of oats
  • 3 heaped tablespoons of natural peanut butter (you can use the smooth kind but I prefer crunchy)
  • 6 tablespoons of natural maple syrup
  • A good handful of raisins
  1. Heat the oven to 180°C
  2. Combine peanut butter and maple syrup I’m a food processor (if you don’t have one just mix really well by hand)
  3. Stir in the oats and raisins until evenly distributed
  4. Scoop out each cookie with a tablespoon and roll into a ball using the palms of your hands, or press into cookie cutters using the back of a spoon
  5. Put onto a lightly greased baking tray (I use coconut oil)
  6. Bake for 12 minutes until lightly golden but still quite soft to touch 
  7. Leave to cool (if you can!) and enjoy!

They are gluten, refined sugar and dairy free and suitable for vegans too!

Mexican Inspired Quinoa Bowl


I’m a huge fan of Mexican food…pretty much anything with coriander and lime gets a thumbs up from me…add avocado into the mix and I’m in heaven! However I used to always associate this type of cuisine with heavy, carb-rich foods such as fajitas or quesedilla’s which are so yummy but not something I would necessarily consider healthy due to all of the processed dips, cheese and white wraps.

I wanted to incorporate the freshness of those flavours into something lighter, more nutritionally dense and less processed. So mexican quinoa (pronounced keen-wa) was the answer!

Quinoa is a such an amazing thing to cook with as it’s so versatile, you certainly aren’t going to buy it for one recipe and then never use it again… and with its neutral flavour it can be used with virtually any herbs and spices! It’s also available in many supermarkets, usually in the whole-foods isle so it’s not difficult to get hold of these days. Depending on where you shop the price can vary slightly but from Sainsbury’s a 300g bag is £1.80 and that will easily give you 6 servings, we usually get 4 good sized dinner portions and 2 slightly smaller lunch portions as left overs so its pretty good value for how far it will go!

Quinoa originates from the Andes and was a staple part of the diet, often referred to as the “gold of the Inca’s” due to its high nutritional value. Commonly referred to as a grain, quinoa is actually a seed of a grain so is suitable for those following a Paleo diet and as their bitter coating is removed when harvested this makes it easier to digest. It’s also a brilliant source of protein which is good for vegetarians, vegans and for those who may want to cut down on their meat intake but still keep their protein levels up. The seeds actually contain all of the 9 essential amino acids which the body can’t produce itself – making it a complete protein.

In my post “good fat – made easy”  I mentioned how  good fats fight inflammation which can negatively impact your cells and the immune system. Quinoa contains these healthy mono-unsaturated fats that help to do this and they also contain a high level of manganese which is needed to keep bones and blood healthy.

Although the name might be hard to get your head around it’s so easy to cook so please don’t be afraid! It’s very similar to rice, give it a rinse and then cook your chosen quantity in double the amount of boiling water for 20 minutes.

The below recipe can be altered to your taste and to what you have in your cupboards but one thing you definitely need is the smoked paprika! This is a simple one pot dish packed full of flavour and involves  very little washing up! It’s got a combination of Mexican and spanish flavours, so if you love tapas or paella then this is for you and it’s suitable for vegans!
Serves 2

  • Quinoa x 150g
  • Passata x 390 (or you could use a can of chopped tomatoes)
  • Garlic x 2 cloves
  • Red Onion x 1 large
  • Sweetcorn x 1/2 cup can be fresh or frozen
  • Peas x 1/2 cup – can be fresh or frozen (if either are frozen they don’t need to be defrosted!)
  • Pepper x 1 (optional)
  • Fresh Coriander x 1 handful roughly chopped with stalks
  • Avocado x 1 chopped into small chunks
  • Black eyed beans x 1 can drained
  • Vegetable stock cube – try to get the lowest sodium you can find in 200ml of boiling water
  • Juice of 1 Lime
  • Smoked Paprika X 3-4 tsp
  • 1 tsp of Cumin
  • salt and pepper to season
  1. Finely chop the onion, pepper and garlic
  2. Sautee the onion and garlic in a pan over a medium heat
  3. Once they are soft, add the pepper and stir occasionally for 5 minutes
  4. Pour the quinoa into a sieve and rinse with water then add to the pan along with the passata
  5. When the quinoa is fully coated in the passata add the peas, sweetcorn, smoked paprika, cumin and black eyed beans along with the stock and season to taste with salt and pepper
  6. Turn the heat up high for 10-15 minutes, stirring regularly and then reduce back down to a medium heat for a further 10 minutes
  7. Add the chopped coriander, the lime juice and stir well.  Check at this point to see if you need any extra paprika… you honestly can’t have too much in this dish!
  8. Finally add the chopped avocado into the quinoa a couple of minutes before serving so that it still retains it’s consistency but is heated through…or if you prefer serve on the side with a wedge of lime!

 

 

 

 

 

Dakos greek salad

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This last week I’ve been on my jollies in Sivota, mainland Greece. The first time I visited Greece was when  I went to the island of Kos last year and I fell in love with the place and the food! Everything is so fresh, locally sourced and in season and I love how so many of their dishes are made from a few simple ingredients that taste amazing.

The Greek or Mediterranean diet has always been considered one of the healthiest and I can definitely see why, although some of the most classic Greek dishes are meat based such as Moussaka it doesn’t seem to be the main basis of their diet. Freshly caught fish, lots of fruit and vegetables and small portions of locally produced dairy such as feta and Greek yoghurt seem to make up most of what they eat. Accompanied by some good quality olive oil, homemade bread and an occasional slice of baklava with honey, pistachios and walnuts!

One of the things I noticed about traditional Greek food is that a lot of dishes are either raw or gently cooked for warm salads for example or they are slowly roasted which intensifies the flavours of the ingredients. Many Greek dishes are tomato based as they grow in abundance in most regions . Taking inspiration from how good they tasted over there I thought I would share with you  a recipe which grew to be one of my favourites.

It’s so simple to make and is a great way to use up a few last pieces of bread that you might otherwise use to feed the birds! The dressing is full of healthy monounsaturated fats from the olive oil (check out my last post on why fats are good for you here) and it’s quick and cheap!

Greek Dakos Recipe
  • 3/4 slices of crusty bread (depending on how big you would like the salad)
  • 50 ml of Olive oil 
  • The juice of half a lemon
  • 1 tsp of dried Oregano
  • 1/2 a Cucumber
  • 100g Feta Cheese
  • 2 x Beef Tomatoes (good quality)
  • Small bunch of fresh Dill
  • Salt & Pepper
  1. Put a griddle pan on a high heat, lightly brush the bread slices with olive oil, season with salt and pepper and toast on either side for 2-3 minutes until they start to crisp up
  2. Whilst they are toasting, finely chop the beef tomatoes and cucumber
  3. Once all the bread is done put to one side and combine the rest of the olive oil with the lemon juice and dill salt and pepper and whisk
  4. Mix the cucumber, tomatoes and crumble in the feta into the dressing..leaving a little feta to one side to garnish
  5. Chop the bread into thick chunks and combine well with the dressing until it’s evenly mixed
  6. Leave for 10 minutes for the bread to soak up all the juicy flavours.
  7. Sprinkle the remaining feta over the top along with the oregano and season with salt and pepper

This dish originates from Crete but is common all over Greece and you can adapt the recipe to create lovely bruschetta’s too if you were having guests over – to do this just toast the bread in the same way but rather than combining with the tomatoes and feta dressing and leaving to soak, just soak the dressing and then top the bread when ready to serve so it still keeps it’s crunch.

Or just make a big salad that everyone can help themselves to accompanied with some olives, sun-dried tomatoes and hummus – check out my smokey hummus recipe here.

I will definitely be making this dish again when I get the holiday blues and want something light and tasty in 15 minutes! Try it out and let me know what you think 😊

 

Good fat – made easy

 

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I for one have always been confused when it came to fat. We have had it drummed into us for years about how fat is, well, making us fat!

So I thought I would have a look at the facts about fat to see what the different types are and how they impact our bodies.

For a long time low fat products have been considered the healthy alternative but despite the low fat/low calorie market being one of the biggest there is, people aren’t getting any slimmer or more importantly… healthier.

This is because when you remove the fat from something, the flavour usually goes with it! So often the fat will be replaced with sugar, which is even worse, leaving you feeling unsatisfied.

One of the great things fat does, is it signals to the brain that you are full. Fat and protein are the main nutrients that have this function, so getting fats into your diet everyday will make you feel fuller for longer and it’s very beneficial for your health.

We do need fat as part of a healthy balanced diet but it’s so important to know what types of fats are going to benefit you. Fat is essential for our bodies as it provides energy and there are many vitamins which are fat-soluble, meaning they need to be consumed with fat in order for the goodness to be absorbed. Vitamins A, D, E & K are all fat-soluble and are great for things like glowing skin, strong bones, a healthy immune system and ensuring your blood clots.

 The three main types of fats are:
  1. Monounsaturated
  2. Polyunsaturated
  3. Saturated

Monounsaturated and Polyunsaturated are the “good fats” I believe we should try to consume daily to maintain our good (HDL) cholesterol levels and keep our hearts healthy.

Monounsaturated fats help to improve insulin sensitivity, which has a huge impact on the risk of type 2 Diabetes and it’s also great at protecting your cells from damage.

These are mainly plant based and can be found in; avocado’s, IMG_1141almonds, peanuts, cashew nuts, hazelnuts, macadamia nuts, olives, olive oil, rapeseed oil.

 

Polyunsaturated fats are similar to the above but have the all-important fatty acids. Omega 6 and omega 3 fatty acids found in oily fish are crucial for us, as our bodies cannot produce it themselves. They are amazing for heart health too as they help to reduce the risk of stroke and heart attacks and reduce blood pressure.

Polyunsaturated fats can be found in oily fish (such as salmon, mackerel, sardines, herring, trout) flax seeds, sunflower seeds, walnuts, sesame seeds and leafy greens.

One of the other great things these two fats do is fight inflammation, which can negatively impact the body in so many ways. Chronic inflammation has been linked to many major health issues like cancer, diabetes and arthritis which is why it’s recommended you eat oily fish at least twice a week. This doesn’t have to be expensive though, I usually have good quality fresh fish for one evening meal and then have lots of tinned mackerel and sardines in the cupboards as they are cheap and are easy to throw into a salad/pasta/quinoa dish.

Saturated fats usually come from animal products such as cheese, meat, processed meats and dairy products such as butter, cream. They are usually solid at room temperature and because of this it is used in a lot of processed foods to give them a longer shelf life.

Saturated fat (for the most part) is the stuff I believe you should try keep to a minimum in your diet. Saturated fat is high in things like red meat and is said to increase the bad LDL cholesterol, which can lead to heart disease and strokes.

However, there are a few exceptions to the rule and coconut oil is one of them!

Coconut oil and many coconut varieties are high in saturated fat but are so good for you and this is due to the fatty acids they are made up of.

Medium-chain triglycerides (fatty acids) are very easy for your body to breakdown and convert into energy and can be absorbed into cells quickly. Most other saturated fats are made up of long-chain triglycerides that require special enzymes to break them down, so often they are stored as fat straight away causing problems for your heart and cholesterol.

Increasing your intake of good fats is so easy to do and doesn’t have to be expensive.

As amazing as it would be to have smashed avocado and fresh smoked salmon every day (I wish!) having a handful of nuts and seeds daily will give your health such a boost.

Sprinkle them on salads and soups, stir into your porridge or smoothie, you could even make up some healthy fat salad dressing with extra virgin olive oil and balsamic vinegar. All natural nut butters are another great way to get healthy fats  in but just make sure they don’t contain any palm oil or additives.

Or… you could just keep it simple and take a little bag of mixed nuts and seeds to work with you or keep in your bag if hunger strikes!

I hope this post has made the idea of fats a bit simpler, less scary and will hopefully encourage you to eat more of the good stuff!

Snack Ideas: Simple, Smokey Hummus

hummud

quite often come across photo’s online of people food prepping for the week ahead with huge trays of food ready to be roasted and every size of Tupperware you can imagine.

I would say for a lot of people, myself included, that you want to make the most of your Sundays and although I admire those who can prep every meal for 7 days I just don’t have the time or room in my fridge!

Preparing anything in advance doesn’t have to be extensive, just getting  your snacks prepared is a great little timesaver for the week and it’s much easier to have a healthy diet if your snacks are healthy and all ready to go! I will be adding different snack ideas on the blog but carrot sticks and hummus are one of my favourite’s, as it increases my raw veggie intake, it’s really tasty and super healthy!

If you don’t have carrots at home you could always substitute with celery sticks, mange tout or sliced peppers. I tend to use carrots because they are really cheap so I usually get a big bag and use some for freshly pressed juices as well as in salads or dinner recipes. Even something simple like grating some carrot into your salad gives it a new texture and vibrancy.

There is also a bit of truth behind the old saying “carrots help you see in the dark” as I was always told growing up. The Beta-carotene found in carrots which gives them their vibrant colour is turned into Vitamin A when digested. Vitamin A is required by the body for our immune system and those who have a deficiency can often have problems with their sight, which is why carrots help to maintain healthy vision.

Chickpeas are great too as they are cheap, filling and high in protein and as they have a low GI they will not spike your blood sugar meaning you will stay fuller for longer. Plus they are so versatile, I use them in so many different ways and they are a great staple to have in the cupboard for bulking out a meal or when you are running low on fresh veg.

Sweet & Smokey Hummus Ingredients
  • 1 tin of cooked chickpeas
  • 1 large clove of garlic
  • Juice of half a lemon
  • 1 tsp. tahini (sesame seed paste)
  • 1 1/2 tsp. of Smoked Paprika
  • 1 tbsp. Sweet Chilli (optional)
  • 2 tsp. extra virgin olive oil
  • Lots of freshly ground black pepper and some salt to season

Drain the chickpeas of any water and throw them into a food processor along with the whole garlic clove and all other ingredients and blitz up until smooth…that’s it! This is the easiest thing to make ever and is so tasty you won’t want to buy shop made hummus again.

Other flavour options:

Sometimes I will omit the sweet chilli and smoked paprika and flavour the hummus with something else which may be to suit whatever you are making for dinner or just to mix up what you have for snacks. All you do is mix whatever you like into the top 4 ingredients in the list.

Examples: a tsp. of pesto, cumin and coriander, Moroccan spice mix (you can pick up in almost all supermarkets), roasted red peppers or sun-dried tomatoes.

The tahini paste is quite an important part of the hummus and it gives it quite a distinct taste. You can buy it from places like Holland and Barrett or other health food stores and it’s not particularly expensive considering the size of the jar and how little you will use which is good but you can make it without, it just won’t taste as much like traditional hummus but still makes a lovely dip!

Doing just a little in advance really helps and this is so easy to make for when friends come round by just doubling the quantities or to have on salads. Its great to keep some in the fridge too, so when you get home from work you have a healthy, filling snack waiting for you 😊

chocolate freezer treats

Healthy eating and chocolate rarely find themselves within the same sentence but I’m telling you it can be done! I would say the thing that most people struggle with when they change their eating habits is cutting out the sweet stuff and having a sweet tooth myself I know your pain. But depriving yourself is never the right answer and knowing you can’t have something makes you suddenly want it so much more!

Despite there being so many “low fat” and “99 calorie” sweet treats available on the shelves they are pumped full of sugar to make them taste good so I wanted to be able to make sweet treats that contain natural ingredients that I can read and understand without scrimping on quality.

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And then I found cacao ️❤

I can cut out crisps, cakes, sweets and biscuits  no problem but chocolate is my real downfall and is something I always crave so by using raw cacao powder I realised you can make amazing desserts, chocolates and sauces that are completely natural and guilt free and the best bit is that it’s actually so so good for you!

Cacao is highly potent in magnesium which enables the body to absorb energy from foods and is a key component in our metabolism, in particular keeping our bones strong and reducing inflammation. Due to it’s affects on energy, not having enough magnesium in your diet can leave you feeling achy and fatigued.

Being full of antioxidants, cacao is amazing for your skin and your body as a whole as it neutralises harmful “free radicals” that can damage cells and cause many forms of disease and ageing.

Free Radicals – sound’s like crazy little men with spiky hair do’s running around your body kicking things and generally being up to no good. In reality that’s kinda true! They are groups of atoms that can arise naturally or can be absorbed through food, sun exposure, smoking etc and when they react to oxygen this can lead to a disruption in their growth causing them to become out of control and have a negative impact on healthy cells.

It also helps regulate blood sugar levels which really helps combat that 3pm slump when you feel like you need a chocolate biccy with your brew.

Raw cacao powder can go into smoothies, porridge, overnight oats, deserts, chocolate sauces, brownies, you name it. Unlike cocoa powder, cacao has not had any refined sugars added to it and is unprocessed – tasting like very dark chocolate. So when using this you will most likely need to add a natural sweetener such as maple syrup, honey, agave etc.

To make my healthy homemade freezer chocolates you will need:

  • natural maple syrup 1-2 tbsp
  • coconut oil – 2 TBSP
  • raw cacao powder -2-3 TBSP

(all of the above ingredients can be found in health food stores, online and in some supermarkets, you don’t have to spend a lot but it’s worth spending the extra on cacao as it will last you, and is very versatile)

Melt coconut oil in a glass bowl over a pan of simmering water, making sure that the water doesn’t touch the bottom of the bowl.

Once melted, remove from heat, add cacao powder and maple syrup to taste until mixed thoroughly and forms a runny sauce.

Pour the sauce into ice cube trays (or if you are super fancy like me, a pretty chocolate mould from the pound shop!) put into the freezer for an hour until set.

If you are a lover of nut butters, you can fill the moulds half way and put into the freezer..once set put a small dollop of nut butter in the middle and then top with the remaining melted cacao. As you can see sometimes it will ooze out of the sides but it just adds to the delicious gooeyness…it’s a definite winner!

freezer chocolate close up

You can keep them in the freezer for easily a month and they are a perfect go to if you want a little something sweet at night. You could add some dried fruit or nuts to these to change the texture or add different flavours such as vanilla or cinnamon too.

The above could also be used as a chocolate sauce over some healthy pancakes, frozen yoghurt or fresh strawberries 🍓

Guilt free, homemade chocolate that is good for you, need I say more?!

Overnight Oats

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With this being my first post I thought I should start with something I love and have pretty much everyday which is oats! One of the reasons I love oats is they are so versatile and can be kept simple with some berries and a drizzle of honey or you can load it up with nuts, seeds, dried and raw fruit, nut butters… the list is endless! I have a few regulars that find their way in each morning such as ground flax seeds, sultanas, blueberries and raw cacao powder.
If the first and last ingredients are something you are unfamiliar with, don’t worry, I will be writing a more in-depth post about these very soon!
Oats are an excellent choice for breakfast as they provide you will slow release energy which means you won’t be starving by 10 am and eyeing up the vending machine at work. Also, they are cheap! 1kg bag of oats is under £1 in most supermarkets, which will last you a lot longer than a box of cereal and can be used for a number of different recipes.

Overnight oats are usually made the night before (secrets in the name) and means you can have it on the go or take it to work but best of all it gives you that extra ten minute snooze.

The basic ingredients are the same though which are:

½ cup of oats

1/3 cup of greek/natural yoghurt

¼ cup of milk of your choice

Dairy and non-dairy work just as well for both the milk and the yoghurt if you wanted to substitute either. If you want a more dense consistency then use less milk but if you want it runnier then use more. Mix all ingredients together and then you can add whatever you want to flavour… I’ve put some that I use in the list below, plus an optional sweetener and then put a lid on and leave in the fridge overnight for the oats to swell and soak up all the goodness. Due to their thick creamy consistency if you didn’t fancy the full portion, you can keep it in the fridge and have the rest of it as an afternoon snack!

You can put whatever you want in this to flavour it but I would advise that if you are wanting to add nuts/seeds you are better adding these in the morning otherwise they can go a bit soggy.

Dried Fruit Nuts, Seeds & Nut Butters Raw/frozen fruit Superfood’s Sweeteners
Sultanas Cranberries Figs
Dates Prunes Apricots (3 = 1 of your 5 a day!)
Goji Berries
Almond Peanut Cashew Hazelnuts Walnuts Macadamia Pecans Desiccated coconut Sunflower seeds Pumpkin seeds Blueberries Strawberries Raspberries Bananas Mango Cranberries Grapes Raw cacao powder Bee pollen
Chia seeds
Ground flaxseeds/Linseeds Coconut oil
Honey
Maple syrup
Date syrup Cinnamon (this satisfies a sweet tooth and also helps to regulate blood sugar levels whilst suppressing your sugar cravings).

Nuts & Dried Fruit

Nuts and dried fruit are a cheap and easy way to make oats interesting and delish! (A more in depth post is coming soon). Nuts are a great source of protein, healthy fat and contain loads of vitamins and minerals. There are so many to choose from which work with different flavour combinations but the main three, which I always have in, are almonds, brazils and walnuts.

Almonds are definitely my favourite and are an excellent source of antioxidants; they are also one of the highest sources of vitamin E, which is used to protect the fat that surrounds each of the cells on our bodies. Protecting cells in this way helps prevent them from being modified and reduces the risk of cancer.

Brazil nuts have high levels of selenium that fight against heart and liver disease as well as some cancers. You only need 2 a day to get your recommended daily allowance and to have a significant impact on your immune system and thyroid function.

Walnuts not only do these pair beautifully with honey and cinnamon but they are rich in omega 3 fatty acids which are so important for brain function and help cut the risk of stroke and a number of cancers such as breast and colon.

Another tip is to look in the baking isle of supermarkets for nuts as so many can be roasted and salted, you want to look for raw unprocessed nuts as these will still have all the goodness in them. Having nuts in your overnight oats adds a nice crunch but you can also have them in the form of nut butters. Be very cautious though and check the label when buying them as many have hidden sugars and additives, which nobody wants. Many health food stores and even some supermarkets now do nut butters that don’t have all the nasties and are 100% nuts! I always have peanut and almond butter in but cashew is something I want to try next and there are new ones being created all the time.

Now you might be thinking peanut butter is not the best way to start your day due to it being high in fat but the fat is good for you! Your body needs fat to function and it also signals to the brain when you are full so is great for breakfast! Many vitamins such as the ones in nuts are fat-soluble which means they need to be consumed along with the fat in order for them to be absorbed into the body. Dried fruit can be very cheap and easy to buy in bulk. I would say most supermarkets sell their own brand version of your everyday dried fruit such as sultanas, apricots, figs, prunes and dates. These are my go to’s which I use for so many different things, not just for breakfast, as they last ages so you have can them in your cupboards for weeks and they will still be fine to use… that is, if you can leave them for that long! The other brilliant thing is that eating three dates, apricots or prunes = 1 of your 5 a day, when chopped up into overnight oats you can easily have 2 of your 5 a day for breakfast!

If dried fruit isn’t your usual thing then don’t worry! It may sound boring at first but believe me putting sultanas into your overnight oats and allowing them to plump up with all the juicy flavour’s adds such a nice chewy element to breakfast and they really do satisfy a sweet tooth. Soon you will be using dried fruit in things you never thought of and they are a great alternative to a sugar laden cereal bar. The above list is a guide of some of the things I use for porridge and overnight oats, most of them are cheap and easy to find. The superfoods are more expensive and not as easy to find but you can get them all online and usually in health food stores such as Holland and Barrett. I will be writing about these in more detail soon but if you had to pick one I would definitely go with Raw Cacao Powder! It’s chocolate in its most natural form ground into a powder and turns your overnight oats into a chocolaty pudding!

One of my fave’s is ½ chopped banana in with the overnight oats plus a sprinkling of cinnamon and then topped with the remaining banana in the morning and a spoonful of peanut butter! It’s simple but so delicious. Honestly, once you have tried these and played around with different ingredients they really do taste like dessert!

I have absolutely fallen in love with overnight oats and think they are especially brilliant for anyone who doesn’t have much time in the morning so make, snooze and enjoy!

Peanut Butter Wellness Bars

 

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I really didn’t know what to name these bars as they can be eaten for breakfast, as a snack or even dessert! They are so yummy and wholesome and are suitable for any time of day. Plus I don’t know if you’ve noticed a running theme I’ve got going on but I really do love how versatile oats can be!

They are super easy to make and can be kept in the freezer for around a month or in the fridge for up to a week. They could probably last a bit longer I’ve just not been able to leave them long enough to find out!
Seriously though they look good but taste even better…you won’t want to eat another cereal bar again!

The other great thing about them is that you can literally throw in whatever you have at home, I’ve made these a few times now and each batch has been different depending on what I’ve got in or what needs using up.

As these bars are made up of healthy fats, protein and slow release carbohydrates they are perfect as a pre work out snack and the oats will keep your energy levels steady throughout your gym sesh.

Makes 12-14 bars.

Ingredients:
1 cup (approx 75 grams) of oats
1 ¼ cup (approx 200 grams) of pitted dates
3 tbsp of 100 % natural peanut butter (or you could use another nut butter)
1 tbsp of coconut oil
1 cup (approx 75 grams)of a variety of nuts (almonds, walnuts, brazils etc)
½ cup (a good handful) of optional extras…

Some of the extra’s I have been putting in are, sunflower and pumpkin seeds, sultanas, apricots, prunes, goji berries and figs. Bigger fruits like figs and apricots would need to be chopped into chunks. You could even put in cacao nibs to add in some extra antioxidants and vitamins (adding some cinnamon and natural maple syrup would be quite nice to have in winter too).

Method

First you need to roast or bake the oats and nuts in the oven for just 10/15 minutes or so until they start to turn golden (around 180°c) I wouldn’t do this under the grill as it can burn the oats very easily.

Whilst they are in the oven, put the dates into a bowl and cover with some boiling water to soften.oats and nuts

Once the oats and nuts are nice and toasty put all of the oats and about 1/3 of the nuts into a large bowl. Then with the remaining 2/3 of the nuts put into a food processor and give a quick blitz until they are chunky (but not fine like crumble).

Add the chunky nuts back into the bowl with the toasted oats along with any extra’s you have chosen.

Then drain the dates and put into the food processor and blitz until it becomes very sticky and will start to clump together into a large ball. Add this to the oat mixture.

Next you need to melt the coconut oil over a low heat and then stir in the peanut butter until it becomes runny (if you like things sweet you could always add some maple syrup or honey at this point). Once fully melted and smooth drizzle this over the oat and nut mixture and combine thoroughly, making sure all of the oats are coated in the dates/peanut butter to ensure they stick together.

Line two loaf tins with parchment paper and divide the mixture between them, putting a couple of spoonfuls in at a time and pressing down with the back of a spoon until it starts sticking together like you would the base of a cheese cake.

Once they feel nice and compact pop them in the freezer for an hour and then slice into bars to eat later or even into squares to enjoy with coffee. I’ve even crumbled up a slice over frozen yoghurt as a healthy pudding too!

Gluten, refined sugar and dairy free, ideal for vegans, gym goers, raw foodies (if you don’t bake the oats and nuts) and peanut butter enthusiasts 😄