Chewy chocolate bars

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Imagine crispy puffs of quinoa and buckwheat, crunchy peanut butter, creamy tahini, a hint of sea salt and dark chocolate all rolled into one bar. It’s the chocolate bar of my dreams. And now I can have it everyday because, really, it’s not as unhealthy as you might think. Puffed quinoa and buckwheat are both nourishing seeds, which makes them gluten frees, and they are packed with protein and calcium. So we’ve got a chocolate bar that’s both delicious and nutritious!

A little peanut butter and tahini are also great sources of protein and healthy fats, which will help keep you full for longer. These really are the chocolate bar you should be reaching for when the 3pm slump hits. That’s exactly what I’m doing now, along with a big cup of tea. It’s the perfect post tennis treat.

I also made these for my parents last weekend and they thoroughly enjoyed them. Especially my Dad. Now that the recipe is up, my mum might even make them for him!

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Don’t be shy with your pinch of sea salt as it really lifts these bars to the next level. Also, feel free to add whatever nuts or seeds you have on hand instead of the pistachios and almonds. Of course, these bars can also be made vegan by using an alternative sweeter such as rice malt syrup or maple syrup, however I truly love the taste of a beautiful floral honey. 

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Chewy chocolate bars

makes 16

  • 1 1/2 C puffed quinoa
  • 1 1/2 C puffed buckwheat
  • 1/4 C flaked almonds
  • 1/2 C pistachios, roughly chopped
  • 1/4 C chia seeds
  • 1/2 C honey
  • 1/4 C natural peanut butter
  • 1/4 hulled tahini
  • 40g drak chocolate (70% cocoa solids minimum)

method

  1. Combine the puffed quinoa, puffed buckwheat and chia seeds in a large bowl. Set aside.
  2. In a heavy based pan, gently toast the almonds and pistachios over medium heat for about 5 minutes.
  3. Combine the honey, peanut  butter and tahini in a small saucepan and stir over low heat until combined.
  4. Add the toasted nuts and tahini mixture to the puffs, quickly mix to combine.
  5. Press into a lined lamington tin (30 x 15 cm), you may need to wet your palms slightly to prevent the mixture sticking to you.
  6. Refrigerate for about 4 hours, or until set firmly.
  7. Remove from the fridge and slice into even sized bars. Gently melt the dark chocolate then use a small spoon to drizzle it over each bar. Pop them back into he fridge for the chocolate to set. Serve, or store in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 1 week.

enjoy!

Banana and dark chocolate cookies

Over the past couple of months I have been making these cookies when I have an overflowing bowl of ripe bananas and a need for something sweet other than banana bread. The bananas add a beautiful sweetness and chewy texture while also making these cookies a great energy boosting snack.

I have trialled these on a car trip, where they travelled well and satisfied all the passengers, even my sister who usually complains that nothing is sweet enough. The cookies also made an appearance on a bicycle ride with me today and they were the perfect halfway snack to keep us satisfied until lunch.

Without the chocolate I would be inclined to say these would also make a fabulous breakfast on the run, seeing as they are made of some of the usual breakfast suspects like oats, almonds, buckwheat, chia and coconut.

Banana and dark chocolate cookies

makes approximately 20 large cookies

Ingredients 

  • 3 ripe bananas, mashed (the riper, the sweeter)
  • 1/2 C cold pressed extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/3 C raw honey or maple syrup
  • 1 tsp vanilla bean extract
  • 1 1/4 C buckwheat flour
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1 C rolled oats (gluten free if necessary)
  • 1 C almond meal
  • 1 C desiccated coconut
  • 2 tbsp chia seeds
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 75g dark chocolate (75% cocoa or more), roughly chopped

Method

  1. Preheat the oven to 180 degrees celsius. Line 2 baking trays with baking paper.
  2. In a small bowl or jug combine the mashed banana, olive oil, honey and vanilla. Whisk with a fork to combine and set aside.
  3. Sift the buckwheat flour and baking powder into a large bowl then stir in the other dry ingredients.
  4. Add the banana mixture and mix to combine. Finally add in the dark chocolate.
  5. Roll large tablespoons of the mixture onto the prepared trays and flatten with your palm (they won’t spread when cooking).
  6. Place into the preheated oven and cook for 20-25 minutes, or until golden brown.
  7. Cool on a wire rack before enjoying with a cup of tea!

A nutty fruit cake

This cake has been a lifesaver over the last few months. Every time I’m heading to university I try and have a couple of slices in my bag because I never know how hungry I might get, and this is the perfect snack. Especially compared to what the vending machines have on offer (ew). Taking your own snacks somewhere is always a good idea if you’re trying to live a healthy lifestyle. You know exactly what you’re putting into you’re body, as you’ve made it yourself. And this nutty cake is full of all things good so you’ll feel fabulous eating it. Plus, it travels amazingly unlike many other soft cakes or muffins that always seen to get squished under everything else in your handbag!

This recipe was inspired by My New Roots life changing loaf of bread. Sarah’s recipe for the beautiful nut and seed loaf can be found here. I have simply turned the loaf into a bit more of a cake, with lots of fibre rich dried fruit to make it a sweeter treat. My recipe is completely oil free and  has remained vegan, held together only by psyllium seed husk, which is almost like magic fairy dust. It just binds ingredients together so easily so you can have beautiful egg free cakes and bread.

Nutty fruit bread

Makes one large loaf

Ingredients

150g oats

4 tbsp psyllium seed husk

4 tbsp buckwheat flour

4 tbsp flax seeds

250g raw almonds or pecans

100g sunflower seeds

2 tsp baking powder

100g chopped dried figs

1 tsp cinnamon

200g dried dates

250ml water, plus extra

juice of 2 oranges, zest of one

Method

Pre heat the oven to 180 degrees celsius. Line a loaf tine with baking paper.

Weigh and measure out all the dry ingredients, except the dates, into a large bowl. Add the orange zest and combine well.

Place the dates and the water into a small saucepan. Gentle bring to a simmer and cook for 5 minutes, until the dates and soft. Mash the mixture together with a fork and mix into the dry ingredients. Add in the orange juice and up to 1/2 a cup of water. The mixture should be really thick.

Scoop the mixture into the prepared tin and flatten the top. Place into the preheated oven for 45 minutes. Remove from the oven and carefully take the loaf out of the tin and place on a wire rack. Brush the maple syrup over the top before placing it back in the oven to cook uncovered for another 20 – 30 minutes, or until golden brown all over.

Remove and cool completely before slicing with a sharp knife.

Keeps in an airtight container in the fridge for 1 week. Also perfect frozen in slices and lightly toasted before serving.

Enjoy!

 

Fat banana pancake

gracebancroft

This is the perfect lazy Sunday breakfast when you feel like pancakes but don’t want to stand at the stove flipping them all morning. With this ‘fat’ pancake you just pop it in the oven while you get on with your morning and soon enough its golden and bubbling with sweet juices from the banana, ready to be gobbled up. Saying that, it makes this the perfect treat for any day of the week really.

The flavours I have gone with lend to a tropical theme but any seasonal fruit would be delicious, such as grilled peaches or caramelised apple. Caramelising the bananas first really enhances their flavour and gives them a beautiful golden colour without having to achieve that and overcooking the batter.

Eggs are a beautiful breakfast ingredient as they are a complete source of protein and combined with the healthy fats and some complex carbohydrates you will be full until lunch time!

gracebancroft

Fat banana pancake

Serves 4.

Ingredients 

1/2 C almond meal

1/2 t gluten free baking powder

2 T buckwheat flour

2 T rolled oats

2 T desiccated coconut

1/2 t ground cinnamon

zest and juice of 1 lime

3 free range organic eggs

2/3 C coconut milk, plus extra

1 T coconut sugar

2 T extra virgin coconut oil

2-3 bananas, sliced lengthways

Method 

Preheat the oven to 190 degrees celcius. Place a 1 tablespoon of the coconut oil in your baking dish (roughly 20cm in diameter) and pop it in the preheating oven until melted.

Whisk together the almond meal, baking powder, buckwheat flour, oats, coconut, lime zest and cinnamon.

Squeeze half the juice of the lime over the sliced bananas and sprinkle over the coconut sugar. Heat the remaing tablespoon of coconut oil in a small frypan and cook the bananas cut side down until golden and caramelised.

Meanwhile, in a small jug whisk together the eggs and coconut milk then pour into the dry ingredients. Whisk until the mixture is smooth. Pour into your prepared baking dish and top with the bananas, caramelised side up.

Place in the preheated oven and cook for 25-30 minutes or until golden and puffed.

Serve with a squeeze of lime juice, shredded coconut and coconut milk.

gracebancroft

Enjoy! And get creative with other seasonal fruit.

 

Persimmon and banana muffins with a pecan crumb

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It is currently peak persimmon season here in Perth and as my parents have a tree and the local farmers markets are practically giving them away, I have more than I know what to do with. So I have been getting creative with ways to use this delicious fruit, enjoying them with porridge and on toast but this was my first try at baking with them, and what a treat it was! The persimmon adds a subtle flavour and creates a moist crumb along with the banana. They are very wholesome muffins, I think one could even be grabbed as a quick breakfast snack if your short on time.

When choosing persimmons there are two varieties, astringent and non-astringent. I have used the astringent variety  here as they have very soft, bright orange flesh when completely ripe. If this variety is not ripe the flesh will be quite firm and have an astringent texture in your mouth. Not pleasant at all, so make sure you choose a very ripe persimmon! The non-astringent variety could be used however the flesh is often a lot firmer so once peeled it would be easier to blend to a paste rather than mash.

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The pecan crumb adds a really lovely texture to the muffins and as they are so easy to make, its worth another minute for the crunchy crumb on top!

 

Persimmon and banana muffins with a pecan crumb

1 1/2 C buckwheat flour

1/2 C coconut sugar

2 t baking powder

2 t ground cinnamon

1 t ground nutmeg

2 bananas, mashed

1 vanilla bean, seeds scraped out

1 persimmon, peeled and mashed

2 free range organic eggs

1/2 C plant yoghurt

1/4 C cold pressed macadamia oil

1/4 C pure maple syrup

Pecan crumb

1/3 C rolled oats

1/3 C pecans, roughly chopped

4 T pure maple syrup

Method

Preheat the oven to 180 degrees celsius.Grease a 12 hole muffin tin with coconut oil.

Combine the buckwheat flour, coconut sugar, baking powder, cinnamon and nutmeg in a bowl. In a separate bowl whisk together the bananas, vanilla, persimmon, eggs, yoghurt, oil and maple syrup.

For the pecan crumb, simply combine all ingredients in a small bowl.

Fold the wet ingredients into the dry until just combined. Spoon into muffin tins and top with a small spoonful of the crumble mix, pressing it lightly into the muffin mixture.  Bake for 25-30 minutes, or until golden brown.

Gently tip the muffins out of the tin and serve warm or store in an airtight container for two to three days.

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Enjoy!

Buckwheat and beetroot salad

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Today I pulled up the last of my beautiful beetroot crop. I have had a delicious supply of these creamy pink beets all spring, using them raw, cooked and in both sweet and savoury recipes. My favourite use is defiantly roasted and then combined with a few other simple ingredients to create a humble yet beautiful salad.

This salad uses buckwheat as the base for added nutrients as well as complex carbs. This way the salad can be served as a meal alone for lunch or a light dinner. It also goes lovely as a side with grilled chicken. Buckwheat is a popular gluten free grain as it is cheap and very versatile as well as packing a powerful punch of iron, magnesium, zinc and copper.

I have used a special heirloom type of beetroot for the recipe, as its what was in my garden, but it would work just as well with regular beets. They all have the same powerful nutrients.

Goats fetta adds a lovely saltiness to the salad offsetting the sweetness of the beetroot and tang of lemon but if you are vegan it may be left out, perhaps adding a few crunchy nuts on top instead. I like to use goat or sheep fetta over cow milk fetta as it has a chemical structure similar to breast milk that our bodies can absorb easily.

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Buckwheat and beetroot salad

Ingredients

1 C raw buckwheat groats

1 ½ C filtered water

1 t Himalayan salt

1 t extra virgin olive oil

1 bay leaf

1 bunch of beetroot

1 handful of parsley, chopped

2 lemons

2 T unrefined macadamia oil

100g rocket

50g goats fetta

Method

Preheat the oven to 180 degrees Celsius.

Rinse the buckwheat groats and then combine in a saucepan with the water, EVOO, bay leaf and seasoning. Bring to the boil then turn down to low and cook for approximately 12 minutes. You still want the buckwheat to have a little crunch.

Meanwhile trim the beetroot and wash thoroughly. Individually wrap each beet in aluminium foil and place in the oven for 45 minutes, or until tender.

Juice 1 lemon and place the liquid in a salad bowl along with the macadamia oil, chopped parsley and seasoning. Add the cooked buckwheat and give a good mix.

When the beets are cooked remove from the oven and peel the skin off carefully. Slice in quarters and halves and place in your bowl with the buckwheat. Add the rocket and crumble over the fetta and give a good squeeze of lemon juice on the top.

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Enjoy!