Sunny Days

It’s such a pleasure rising early of late. Not that it had been too much of a chore, but being gently roused by sunshine streaming in your window is so much more agreeable than the klaxon call of the alarm clock jolting you into reality. The whole natural world is so industrious at that hour, making the morning seem ancient before I even place a foot on the bedroom floor. Birds chirp louder now, colours seem more vivid. The fresh morning air makes everything clean and new. There’s so much promise before 6am and while the rest of the world sleeps, I feel like I have the place all to myself. I like that.

 

These cold, sunny mornings are my absolute favourite; feeling the crisp air rush across my skin and the warmth of the sun on my face. It feels healthier somehow. With that comes the desire to be outside, to be sociable, and to nourish my body with lighter, healthier foods. As I explained in my last post, I have worked hard to overcome my issues with food and I’m happy to say, I now (possibly!) eat enough to constitute an entire salad… Put a notice in the paper! Hallelujah!

 

This has all been made a lot easier because the word “salad” is now used for all kinds of things. Yes you can throw in some chickpeas. Why wouldn’t you include a little rice? Want to banish that limp lettuce? No problem! I might have to draw the line at chocolate chips… Just about. Also, when you come across cute little jars with layered ingredients all the colours of the rainbow, you can bet your life I’m all over that!

 

Layered Salad with Greek Yoghurt Dressing

 

This idea is perfect for lunch on the go. You can be as creative as you like but keeping the dressing on the bottom, and things like leaves on the top, will mean your salad is fresh when you come to eat it later in the day. Turn it out into a bowl or eat it with a latte spoon straight from the jar.

 

What You Need:

 

For the dressing:

 

½ cup Greek Yoghurt

2 tsp red wine vinegar

Juice & zest of half a lemon

2 tsp Dijon mustard

1 clove of garlic, minced

Small handful of fresh coriander, chopped

Good grinding of black pepper

Small pinch of sea salt

 

DressingIngredients

 

DressingMixed

Place all the ingredients into a bowl and whisk until combined. Alternatively you can use a food processor on pulse.

 

 

For the salad:

 LayeredSaladWoodBackground

  • The first thing to go into your jar is the dressing. This will keep everything else from getting soggy.
  • Next comes the bigger items (perhaps proteins); the ones that won’t get soggy if they’re in contact with the dressing – so your meat, or in this case, chickpeas.
  • Third layer is vegetables – sliced, diced, spiralised. Chop them how you like them and go to town on it. There are no rules – beetroot, avocado, courgette, radish, onions of all shapes and sizes, peppers… The ideas are endless!
  • Now that you’re getting to the top of the jar, you can think about the things you want to stay crispy – leaves, alfalfa sprouts etc.

The bigger the container, the bigger the options. Here I’ve used a very small jar but even then, you can fit quite a lot in. 

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Vegetable Fritters – Fighting My Inner Food-a-phobe

I’m not the greatest vegetable eater in the world and I never have been. Tales of my stubbornness as a child have become legendary. My parents tell of a Sunday afternoon spent with a sullen young Fiona at the kitchen table utterly hell bent on refusing to eat even one tiny bite of my lovingly-prepared dinner. Three hours I sat there, and for three whole hours I insisted that not one little spoonful was passing my lips. Never underestimate the resolve of a headstrong child!

Thankfully things have improved somewhat. For one my parents don’t need to coax me into eating. Now I just need to fight the inner voice saying “Oh you won’t like it”. I’ve proven that voice wrong many, many times. Just this past year I have silenced my fearsome foe with a list of food that I’m not only tolerating, but one that is quickly morphing into a catalogue of my most loved and used ingredients of all time. It seems the more I try the quieter that doubtful voice becomes. In no small part this blog has helped with my food issues. It has made me search for alternatives and ways of preparing things to suit my very specific tastes and in doing so has stretched my tastes beyond anything I could have imagined or hoped for.

I understand the reticence to try new things. Yes, it’s easier to stick with what you’re familiar with but take one step outside of your comfort zone and who knows what you will discover!

This next recipe may not blow any minds. On the surface it’s just some shredded vegetables mixed with some spices and a couple of things to bind them, and then fried until crispy. To someone who may not be comfortable with carrots or convinced by cumin, it might just be treatment they’ve been waiting for to include these in their diet. I love these and I could be described as being carrot-averse 🙂 It’s a sneaky (and very tasty) way to add some extra veggies to your day.

VEGETABLE FRITTERS

What You Need:

2 large carrots

2 large potatoes

2 leeks

1 shallot

1 clove of garlic, crushed

1 tbsp tumeric

1 tbsp cumin

1 tbsp coriander

1 tbsp cayenne pepper

2 whole eggs

1/2 cup plain flour

Good grinding of black pepper

Small pinch of salt

Some oil for frying

What To Do:

VegFrittersGratedVeg

  • Coarsely grate the potatoes and carrots.

VegFrittersStrainingVeg

VegFrittersStrainedLiquid

  • Wrap the potato and carrot in a clean tea towel and wring out the excess liquid, or alternatively place them in a fine mesh sieve and press down firmly.
  • Shred the shallot and leek finely.

VegFrittersVegetables

VegFrittersSpicedVeg

  • Mix the grated potato and carrot with the shredded shallot and leek, crushed garlic, the tumeric, cumin, coriander, cayenne, eggs, and flour.
  • Season with salt and pepper.
  • Heat a little oil in a pan.

VegFrittersFrying

  • Spoon 1-2 tablespoons of the vegetable mixture into the frying pan, flatten slightly, and fry on a low to medium heat until browned and crisp on one side.

VegFrittersSecondSide

  • Flip and cook on the other side.

VegFrittersTopDown

  • Serve with some curried mayo or Greek yoghurt.

Veg Up Your Life

Three years ago D and I bought a house in a beautiful part of Cork city. Pre recession times we probably wouldn’t have been able to even offer a glance in its direction but as luck would have it, a couple of weeks of negotiation and many many thousands below original asking price, and it was all ours. You can’t imagine the excitement I felt. I dreamed of houses my entire life, often going to show homes with my dad at the weekends. I’m the type of person who goes into a space and reimagines it how I would like it. I’m excited to go to the DIY store, I have an annual subscription to an interiors magazine, I’ve seen all the DIY programmes, and I’ve even studied interior design in my spare time.

This house needed work. I’m talking rewiring, new kitchen and bathrooms, and redecoration of every room. We were up for the challenge though. In about a month we had enough done that we could move in. Fast forward another five months and every room had been decorated. Then the fun began. I didn’t like the bathroom. I wanted to add colour to the hall. Oh the spare room could do with a built in wardrobe. Wouldn’t it be great if we added an extension…? It’s pretty much never ending! I’m good with that though and to his credit, D is accepting of my neurosis.

The list of jobs for 2015 is quite extensive and I have fixed a self-imposed deadline of the first week in June for it all to be done and dusted. Why? Well, my birthday is 10th June and I envisage myself sitting out the newly completed back garden with a Solano Mojito in hand, firmly flip-flopped feet, cool tunes on the wireless speakers, and various meats sizzling on the BBQ.

The weather is very gradually getting warmer so I’m clinging to the hope that we will have a beautiful summer to enjoy leisurely evenings outside with friends. If the sun is decidedly MIA, I will be defiant to the end. Should I have to sit under an umbrella while wrapped in a blanket, so be it. The Mojito will need to be prised from my frostbitten hands.

At this stage we’re well versed in all things meat related but what do you serve vegetarian guests at your summer soiree? Try these sensational spiced bean burgers for a start.

Spicy Bean Burgers

 

What You Need

 

1 shallot

1/2 red pepper

1 tin of red kidney beans

1 tin of cannellini beans

2 slices of wholemeal bread

1tbsp chives

Good grinding of black pepper

Small pinch of salt

1tsp cumin

1tsp cayenne pepper

1tsp smoked paprika

1 egg, lightly beaten

Plain flour

What To Do

  • Slice the shallot and red pepper into small dice.

BeanBurgersBread

BeanBurgersBreadcrumbs

  • In a food processor, whizz up 2 slices of wholemeal bread with 1tbsp chives, a good grinding of black pepper, and a small pinch of salt.

BeanBurgersAddSpices

BeanBurgersSpicesMixed

  • Add the chopped shallot, red pepper, and 1tsp each of cumin, smoked paprika, and cayenne pepper. Pulse until combined.
  • Drain the beans and rinse under cold water. Pat dry.

BeanBurgersAddBeans

  • Place the beans into the processor with the breadcrumb mixture and blitz again. Some small chunks are fine for texture.

BeanBurgersMix

  • Transfer the mix to a bowl and stir in one lightly beaten egg.

BeanBurgersFlouredRing

BeanBurgerPatties

  • Form 8 or so patties using a floured cooking ring or floured hands.

BeanBurgerRing

  • The ring will give a more uniform look.

BeanBurgerByHand

  • Hands will give that rustic feel you expect from a homemade burger.

BeanBurgersInPan

  • Refrigerate for 30 minutes then shallow fry until browned on both sides and hot the whole way through.

BeanBurgerDone

  • Serve with shredded lettuce, garlic mayo, and a drizzle of Sriracha, or top with sliced avocado and crumbled Feta.

Garlic and Chive Pitta Chips

I have a friend I’ve known pretty much my entire life. She lives right by my nan’s house, and since I spent a lot of time there growing up, it was inevitable that we would become friends. What wasn’t inevitable though is that even now, with us in our VERY early 30s, we’re still friends. If we don’t speak in person every day, there’ll definitely be an email, text, Viber, Snapchat, carrier pigeon, or smoke signal gone out. We’re more like sisters at this stage than just friends. She might annoy me at times, I definitely annoy her sometimes, but that’s what counts, isn’t it? True friendship is the ability to see past a person’s shortcomings or quirks. A real friend is the one who still wants to be seen with you the day after you’ve danced up Grand Parade in a Stetson. A thirty year friendship is a rare commodity.

My friend A is quite the house guest. She may not visit often and my drinks cabinet may be depleted by the time she leaves but she always brings me something – flowers, candles, little trinkets, and most recently pitta chips. I had never tasted pitta chips before and they were more than just a little agreeable. We breezed through the bag in no time.

Here I’ve tried to recreate the crunchy chips and have used them as a base for a nacho-esque dish that’s perfectly casual for impromptu girls’ nights in.

BAKED PITTA CHIPS

 

WHAT YOU NEED

2 tbsp olive oil

1 clove garlic, crushed

2 tsp chives

Two wholemeal pittas

WHAT TO DO

  • Preheat the oven to 180°C and line a baking sheet with parchment.
  • Stir the garlic and chives into the olive oil and leave to sit. Alternatively you can use garlic infused olive oil, just mix the chives through it.

PittaChipsQuartered

  • Slice the pittas into triangles.

PittaChipsDivided

  • Split the triangles in two. Some will cooperate but others may need a little convincing.

PittaChipsBrushWithOil

  • Brush both sides of the pitta triangles with the olive oil mixture, making sure to use all of the chives and garlic.
  • Lay the triangles in a single layer on your baking tray and bake in the preheated oven for 10 minutes, then flip them over and bake for another 5-10 minutes, or until crisp.
  • Allow to cool.

PittaChipsToasted

These are best eaten on the day they’re baked. If you do wish to keep them for longer, store in an airtight container and crisp up again for 4 or 5 minutes in the oven.

PittaChipsNachoBowl

As well as being perfect for dips like hummus, these chips work really well as a replacement for tortilla chips in nachos. Just layer them up with my Faked Beans, some shredded lettuce, onions, peppers, and chicken. Top with a sprinking of cheese and a swirl of Sriracha. Heavenly!

Faked Beans

Despite having a world of cuisine on my doorstep, sometimes only beans on toast will do. It’s the thought of hot toast soaking up a rich tomato sauce that does it for me every time. I would, and probably have eaten beans with just about anything. As well as the usual, I put them in my Shepherd’s Pie, and I’ve even gone so far as to have them on a pizza. It just followed naturally that I would try to make my own version and for this, I went a little bit fancier than recreating your run of the mill tinned variety. I call these “Faked Beans” because well, they’re not baked. I think despite the name, most baked beans aren’t actually baked either.

My Faked Beans are just right for grown up versions of childhood favourites like sausages and beans (use spiced meaty butcher sausages), or perhaps even as a side for a Mexican night (tortilla dip anyone?!). The nutrients in tomatoes are given a boost when cooked, so you can rest assured you’re racking up points towards your five a day! For the beans themselves I used cannellini. Ordinarily haricot are used but I wanted something a little more substantial. I think mixed beans would work well also. My trouble with a lot of tinned baked beans is that they’re loaded with sugar. I didn’t add any to mine, and the only salt used comes from the bacon. Smoked paprika works nicely with the smoked bacon to create a more piquant dish. The sauce is thick and plentiful with a good kick of garlic.

What You Need: 

1 tbsp olive oil

1 large red onion, chopped

2 cloves garlic, crushed

4 rashers of smoked streaky bacon, chopped

1 tin chopped tomatoes

1 tsp smoked paprika

1 tsp chives, chopped

Good splash of Worcestershire sauce

Good pinch of black pepper

1 tin cannellini beans

What To Do:

  • Heat the oil in a pan.

BakedBeansOnionsGarlic

  • Gently cook the onion and garlic until the onion has softened.

BakedBeansCrispyBacon

  • Add the bacon to the pan and cook until beginning to crisp.

BakedBeansAddTomatoes

  • Stir in the tomatoes, smoked paprika, chives, Worcestershire sauce, and black pepper, making sure to scrape the end of the pan to free up the bacon juices.

BakedBeansBubbling

  • Allow to simmer for 10-15 minutes until the sauce has reduced and thickened slightly.
  • Blend the sauce with a stick blender to a consistency of your liking.

BakedBeansDrainedCannelini

BakedBeansAddBeans

  • Rinse the cannellini beans and add them to the sauce.

BakedBeansDone

  • Stir well and simmer until the beans are cooked through.

For Mum, With Love

Mothers, those eternal soldiers fighting your corner and still having time to do things we didn’t even know needed doing. My mum is a superhero. How anyone put up with the teenage terror that was Hurricane Fiona is beyond me. I sometimes wonder if I have done enough to balance the scale against all those shouting matches, slammed doors, and rolled eyes. I have immense love and respect for my mum. She has shown superhuman strength throughout her life and has battled through to become the woman we know her as today. She never says no if I need something and she provides endless hours of entertainment with her silly ways. My mum is my comfort blanket no matter how old I am and no matter how much of an adult I’m supposed to be. I guess not all superheroes wear capes.

 

This Sunday we celebrate our mums. Families come in all shapes and sizes so if you have two mums, two dads, a grandmother, aunt, or just someone who cares, pay them back a little for one day. Let them put their feet up and make something nice to show them they’re appreciated.

 

I would like to take the opportunity to wish my own mum the happiest of Mother’s Days. Even a million days dedicated just to you wouldn’t be enough.

 

Banana and Blueberry Baked Oatmeal

What You Need:

2 Cups Oats

1tsp Baking Powder

2tsp Ground Cinnamon

1 Cup Blueberries (frozen or fresh)

1/2 Cup Walnuts, chopped

2 Cups Milk

1 Large Egg

1 Ripe Banana, mashed

2tsp brown sugar (optional)

 

What To Do:

  • Preheat the oven to 180C.
  • Grease and/or line a brownie pan with parchment.

BakedOatmealDryIngredients

  • Mix the oats, baking powder, cinnamon, blueberries, and walnuts together in a bowl.

BakedOatmealWetIngredients

  • In a separate bowl whisk together the milk, egg, and banana.

BakedOatmealMixing

  • Gradually add the milk mixture to the dry ingredients, folding gently until everything is well mixed together.
  • Transfer the mixture to the brownie pan and bake in the preheated oven for 40 minutes.

BakedOatmealBrownSugar

  • Sprinkle the brown sugar over the oatmeal and return to the oven for five minutes or until the sugar has caramelised and the top is crispy.

BakedOatmealBreakfast

This will keep in the fridge for a couple of days. Eat it cold with Greek yoghurt and some extra berries, or warm it up with a little milk.

 

Croque Madame

What You Need:

2tbsp butter plus more for bread

2tbsp plain flour

150ml milk

1tsp Dijon mustard

Good pinch of nutmeg

Pinch of black pepper

Two slices of thick cut bread

Some Gruyere cheese, or similar

Two slices of ham I used prosciutto 

Some chives

1 small-medium egg

What To Do:

  • Preheat the oven to 180C.

Begin by making the sauce:

CroqueMadameMeltedButter

  • Melt 2tbsp of butter in a pan.

CroqueMadameRoux

  • Whisk in 2tbsp flour until smooth.

CroqueMadameAddMilk

  • Gradually add the milk while whisking continuously.
  • Allow to simmer until the sauce thickens.

CroqueMadameAddSpices

  • Stir in the mustard, nutmeg, and black pepper.

 

CroqueMadameHole

  • Stamp a circle out of one slice of bread.

CroqueMadameHam

  • Make up the sandwich by layering the cheese, ham, and chives.

CroqueMadameButtered

  • Butter the outside of the bread.
  • Brown the slice of bread with the hole in it in the pan.

CroqueMadameOnTray

  • Transfer the sandwich to a baking tray and crack the egg into the hole.
  • Bake in the preheated oven for 10 minutes or until the white of the egg is almost fully set.

CroqueMadameBechamelGruyere

  • Spoon over some of the sauce and add some extra grated Gruyere.

CroqueMadameDone

  • Stick it back in the oven until the cheese has been melted.

 

Cherry Stuffed French Toast

What You Need:

2 slices of bread

Cherry jam – I made cherry chia jam using this recipe. I just used cherries instead of raspberries. Store bought cherry jam is fine.

1 egg, lightly beaten

A knob of butter

Icing sugar to dust (optional)

What To Do:

  • Cut the crusts from the bread and flatten them as best you can with a rolling pin.

FrenchToastJam

  • Spread some jam in the centre of one slice.

FrenchToastCrimping

  • Place the second slice of bread on top and crimp the edges slightly with a fork.
  • Melt the butter in the frying pan.

FrenchToastDipping

  • Dip the jammy sandwich into the egg, making sure to cover both sides well.

FrenchToastFrying

  • Gently fry the bread until golden, turning as required.

FrenchToast

  • Dust with icing sugar, if using.

Try drizzling some melted dark chocolate over the cherry French toast for some extra decadence!

 

Spicy Oat Crusted Tenders

I’ve developed a bit of a thing for oats and have managed to incorporate them in various guises into recipes with huge success. They’re great in baked goods, keeping my apple and raspberry bars moist for an entire week. That said as appealing as a warm bowl of porridge looks, I’ve still not managed to convince myself to eat it!

 

There are many health benefits to be garnered from oats. They’re jam-packed with dietary fibre (soluble and insoluble) so they can join the fight against high cholesterol and blood pressure. The energy from oats is released slowly meaning you’ll avoid those blood sugar spikes associated with other foods – essentially keeping you fuller for longer and defending you from the demon that is diabetes. Oats aren’t low in calories but a small amount introduced to a balanced, active lifestyle will contribute greatly to your overall good health.

 

Oats don’t contain gluten but are sometimes grown or processed in facilities producing other gluten-filled items so if you do have an intolerance, make sure to check that your oats are certified gluten free.

 

Spicy Oat Crusted Chicken Tenders

 

What You Need: 

2 chicken breasts

1-1.5 cups of oats

1 tbsp cayenne pepper

1 tsp cumin

1 tbsp chives

Good pinch of ground black pepper

1 egg, lightly beaten

1 tbsp chilli flakes

Cooking spray (optional)

 

What To Do:

  • Preheat the oven to 180°C and line a tray with parchment.

TendersSlicedChicken

  • Slice the chicken breasts into goujon style strips.

TendersCrumbIngredients

  • Place the oats, cayenne, cumin, chives, and black pepper into a food processor.

TendersBlendedOats

  • Pulse until the oats resemble coarse breadcrumbs. You can pulse longer if you would rather fine but I do prefer slightly coarse.

TendersEggAndOats

  • Put the beaten egg into one bowl, and the oat mixture into another.
  • Dip the chicken strips into the egg, and then roll in the breadcrumbs.

TendersOnTray

  • Line the breaded goujons up on the tray, sprinkle over the chilli flakes, and spray with cooking spray, if using.

TendersDone

  • Bake in the preheated oven for 20-25 minutes, or until crisp and cooked through.

An Apple A Day

I was in a local supermarket recently and came across a fruit called a pomelo. I had never heard of them before and had to look them up. It got me thinking about all the weird and wonderfully exotic ingredients that have become everyday staples in our diets. I doubt my nan would have ever eaten a pomegranate, let alone a pomelo.

As much as I love how easy it now is to buy herbs, spices, fruit, and vegetables once confined to far off lands, sometimes the comfort of the familiar is all that you crave.

The unassuming apple is rich in dietary fibre, vitamin C, multiple B vitamins, calcium, potassium, and phosphorus. It contains antioxidants, phytonutrients, flavanoids, and all those big words that sound so important they must be good for you! It is very much deserving of the title “superfood” and shouldn’t be overlooked for something a bit more flashy. “An apple a day…” and all that.

Slow release carbohydrate, punchy raspberry, sweet dates, and our superhero the apple, make these a no-brainer for busy lifestyles, kids’ lunchboxes, or a pick me up before a workout. 

These can be gluten free if you choose your ingredients carefully.

Apple and Raspberry Energy Bars

What You Need:

2 cups of oats

2 cups of dates

1 medium to large Bramley apple, chopped

1/2 cup frozen raspberries

1/2tsp cinnamon

 

What To Do:

  • Preheat the oven to 170°C and line a brownie pan with parchment.

ChoppedRaspberries

  • Tip the raspberries into the food processor and pulse until broken up. Pop back into the freezer until needed. We will use these from frozen.

SoakingDates

  • Place the dates into a bowl and pour in just enough boiling water to cover them. Leave to soak for 10-15 minutes.

BlendingOatsDatesCinnamon

  • Put the oats, dates, and cinnamon into the food processor and blend until they come together. I started out pulsing and then full blend. You may need to scrape down the bowl a couple of times to ensure everything is evenly mixed and there are no giant lumps.

AddingApple

  • Add the apple to the food processor and blend again. I just went to the point where the apple chunks were smaller but still visable, and it was all mixed well together.

OatMixWithApple

  • Transfer the mixture to a bowl and stir in the frozen raspberry pieces.

SquashBars

  • Put the mixture into the brownie tin and press down well. It’s important to compact the mixture as much as possible.
  • Bake in a preheated oven for 20 minutes.

ChopBars

  • Allow to cool in the tin and cut into portions.

Raspberry Lime Oat Bars with Chia Jam

I have very little self control when it comes to snacks. There are certain parts of the day when what little self control I possess is thrown clear out the window. I’ve learned not to fight it because if I do, I end up going off the deep end altogether. My mind wanders to far off places filled with yumminess and I succumb to every delicious crumb.

I started this recipe just trying to make a chia jam. Somewhere along the way it developed into a tray of oaty snacks with a juicy raspberry lime layer and crumbly coconut topping. It was quite a fruitful adventure!

These can be gluten free if you use choose your ingredients carefully. It is fine to omit the quinoa. Just increase the nuts or oats by 1/4 cup.

Begin by making the chia jam.

ChiaJam

  • Place 250g of raspberries (frozen or fresh) into a pot with the juice and zest of one lime, and 2tbsp sweetener (sugar, honey, agave – your choice).
  • Stir the fruit mix over a gentle heat until the fruit begins to break down and release its juices.
  • Continue to stir as the fruit bubbles, squashing any larger pieces of raspberry with your spatula. This is of course optional, if you would rather a chunky jam.
  • Once the fruit has been bubbling for a minute or two, stir in 2tbsp chia seeds.
  • Allow the mixture to bubble again for about another minute, then switch off the heat, and leave to cool down.
  • Stir the mixture periodically. It should thicken up as it cools down.
  • If the jam is too runny, stir in some more chia seeds and leave for another 10-15 minutes.
  • Test the sweetness of the jam. Depending on your taste you may need to add some more sweetener.

ChiaJamFinished

 

Raspberry Lime Oat Bars

What You Need:

1 1/2 cups oats

1 cup hazelnuts, whole or chopped

1 cup pecans, whole or chopped

1/2 cup dessicated coconut

1/4 cup linseed mix

1/4 cup quinoa pops

1/4 cup honey (or agave)

1/4 cup coconut oil

2 tbsp nut butter (peanut, almond, cashew – whichever is your favourite)

Chia Jam (see recipe above)

 

What to Do:

  • Preheat the oven to 180C and line a brownie pan with parchment.
  • Take half of the oats, hazelnuts, and pecans, and process them in your blender. You don’t want them to be too fine, just not chunky.

OatBarsBaseIngredients

  • Mix this with the remaining oats, hazelnuts, pecans, dessicated coconut, linseed mix, and quinoa in a bowl.

OatBarsBinder

OatBarsMeltedBinder

  • Melt the honey, coconut oil, and nut butter over a gentle heat until well combined and hot.

OatBarsMixBase

  • Pour the liquid into the oat mixture, and stir well with a spatula.

OatBarsPressBase

  • Press 3/4 of the mixture into your brownie pan, making sure to apply pressure so it compresses and sticks together well. This is important. The bars will be crumbly but the harder you press them, the greater chance you have of them sticking together to form bars.

OatBarsCrumbleTop

  • Spread the chia jam made earlier in an even layer across the oat base.
  • Crumble the remaining 1/4 of the oat mix over the jam, and sprinkle some extra dessicated coconut on top, if you like.
  • Bake in a preheated oven for 15 minutes, or until firm.
  • Leave to cool in the pan, then slice into bars.

OatBarsFinished

Pancakes, All Kinds of Ways!

Shrove Tuesday historically, was the last opportunity to use up eggs and fats before embarking on the Lenten fast which preceded Easter. On this day, Christians would go to confession and be “shriven”, that is absolved of their sins. For me, it was a fun time with my dad flipping pancakes in our old kitchen at home, us wolfing them down still warm, the sugar crunching as we sunk our teeth into the pancake, and the sharp lemon balancing it all just right.

 

Pancakes are a versatile dish and are a quick and easy idea for breakfast on the go. You can even make a batch in advance and freeze them. Just allow them to cool completely, spread them in a single layer on a baking tray, open freeze them for a few hours, then once solid pop them in a freezer bag. They can be warmed in the oven or try them in the toaster to get some nice crispy edges.

BasicPancakeMix

Basic Pancake Mix:

What You Need:

110g plain flour

2 eggs

200ml milk

75ml water

What To Do:

  • Sift the flour into a bowl.
  • Make a well in the centre of the flour and add the eggs.
  • Bring the flour and eggs together using a fork or a whisk.
  • Mix the water and milk together.
  • Gradually add the milk mixture to the flour and eggs, whisking all the time.
  • Scrape down the sides of the bowl and continue to mix until the ingredients have been incorporated.

Try using a nut milk like almond or coconut to give your pancakes a little twist.

AmericanStylePancake

American Pancake Mix:

What You Need:

135g plain flour

1 tsp baking powder

2tbsp caster sugar

130ml milk

1 egg, beaten

What To Do:

  • Sift the flour, baking powder, and sugar into a bowl.
  • In a jug, lightly whisk the milk and egg together.
  • Pour the liquid into the sifted flour mixture and bring together using a fork or whisk.
  • Let the batter stand for a few minutes before using.

GlutenFreePancakeMix

Gluten Free Pancake Mix:

What You Need:

1 ripe banana

1/2 cup almond flour

2 eggs

What To Do:

  • Mash the banana in a bowl.
  • Add the eggs and whisk.
  • Stir in the almond flour until well combined.

 

Pancakes are great with just some lemon and sugar. There’s also the banana and Nutella combination, bacon and maple syrup, and of course strawberries and cream. Step outside the box just a little though and they’re transformed into something completely different. Take it up a notch this year and try one of these ideas.

 

Strawberry and Coconut Centre

  • Warm some butter or oil in a pan. I used a small amount of coconut oil.
  • Ladle some pancake batter into the pan.

StrawberryPancake

  • Top with a dollop of strawberry jam and a sprinkling of dessicated coconut.

StrawberryCovered

  • Pour some more batter over the filling to encase it.

StrawberryPancakeBrowned

  • Wait until bubbles form and begin to pop on the top of the pancake, then flip.
  • Cook the other side until nicely browned.

StrawberryPancakeFinished

PancakeMuffins

Baked Pancake Muffins

  • Warm the oven to 160C.
  • Spoon pancake batter into a muffin or mini muffin tray, filling each slot half to three quarters full.
  • Top with your choice of fruit, nuts, chocolate etc. I made four – blueberry and lemon zest, pecan and grated dark chocolate, lemon and cracked black pepper, and thinly sliced apple.
  • Bake the pancakes in the oven for 10-15 minutes until risen slightly, set, and beginning to brown.

PancakeMuffinsOnPlate

Cinnamon Swirl Pancakes

For the cinnamon topping:

CinnamonSugar

 

CinnamonDrizzle

Melt 2 tbsp butter with 1 tbsp ground cinnamon and 1/4 cup of brown sugar, stirring all the time until the sugar has dissolved. Put aside for later.

  • Warm some butter or oil in a pan. I used a small amount of coconut oil.
  • Ladle some pancake batter into the pan.

CinnamonToppedPancake

  • Drizzle the cinnamon mixture on top of the pancake batter.
  • Allow one side to cook until bubbles form and start to pop.

CinnamonPancakeBrowned

  • Carefully flip the pancake and cook on the other side.

CinnamonPancakeStack

Pancake Dipped Apple Fritters

  • Peel and core an eating apple. The peeling is optional.

AppleSlice

  • Slice the apple into rings about 1/4 inch thick. This will give you a fritter with a firm apple centre. If you would prefer it softer, slice the apple thinner.
  • Warm some butter or oil in a pan.

DippingApple

  • Dip the apple rings into the pancake batter.

AppleExcess

  • Allow some excess to run off.

ApplePancakeSide1

  • Place the pancake dipped apple into the heated pan.
  • Cook on one side until bubbles form and start to pop.

ApplePancakeBrowned

  • Carefully flip the fritter over and cook until the other side has browned.
  • This works well with other fruit too – pears, pineapple rings etc. A thicker batter gives more of a coating, so try using the American pancake mix. If you would like more fruit than pancake, the basic pancake batter is fine.

ApplePancakeFritter