Cook this: (almost) paleo granola

On my naturopath’s advice, I gave up grains for a few weeks to help reset my tummy lining. The only thing I really missed was my morning bowls of porridge and muesli; I need my oats!

Because I eat breaky at work every morning, poached eggs and sautéed veggies every morning wasn’t a realistic option, so I needed something else… something easy to prepare in advance and easy to take to work.

Enter paleo granola. Basically, a whole lot of nuts and seeds, toasted and ready to top my green smoothie bowl. Over the last few weeks I’ve become hooked on it, so now that I can reintroduce some grains back into my diet, I’ve decided to stick with it, but just add some oats to the mix. And it’s pretty delicious!

Ingredients:
– juice & zest of 1 orange
– 1 tbsp maple syrup
– 1 cup mixed sunflower & pepita seeds
– 1 cup shredded coconut
– 4 tbsp chia seeds
– ½ cup rolled oats (leave these out if you want a proper paleo mix)
– ½ cup crushed walnuts
– ½ cup slivered almonds
– ½ cup chopped dates

 

Method:
1. Preheat the oven to 180°C and line an oven tray with baking paper.

2. Combine the orange juice, zest and maple syrup in a small bowl, and set aside.

3. Combine the remaining ingredients in a large mixing bowl, then stir through the orange juice.

4. Pour the mixture onto the tray and spread it out. Bake for about 20 – 25min or until golden; stir the mixture around every 5min or so to ensure it bakes evenly.

5. Once completely cooled, store in an air tight container up to 2 weeks

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Cook this: Orange & zucchini “muesli bars” (lactose, gluten & sugar free)

Remember how I said the other day that I wanted to try using puffed quinoa a bit more? I have a giant bag of the stuff at home now and have been experimenting with other ways of using it. Enter these muesli bars. But first, let’s backtrack a few steps..

I’m a snacker. I like to eat in dribs and drabs throughout the day, and I’ll snack on whatever is handy and convenient. If that’s a jar of cookies, I’ll have a cookie. If I come across chocolate before I notice carrot sticks, I’m having some chocolate. So, it’s in my best interests to have healthy snacks laying about the house instead. Many years ago, before fructose decided it wasn’t my friend, I used to make apple and honey “muesli bars” to snack on – the ones you buy are FULL of sugar, so I preferred to make my own healthier ones. It’s been a while since I’ve made muesli bars, though, so I had an idea to make some more – but without any butter, oil, eggs or sugar. Simple stuff.

I also wanted to create a snack that would fill me up and give me energy, and not be completely unhealthy. Something I could nibble on to tie me over between getting home from work and dinner time. Or post-morning workout before I get to work and eat breaky properly. I used the baked oats theory, and here’s what I came up with…

Ingredients:
– 1 cup rolled oats
– 1 heaped scoop protein powder (I like vanilla, but chocolate would work well, too)
– 1 cup milk (soy, almond, regular, whatever)
– zest & juice of 1 large orange
– 1 large zucchini (or 2 small ones)
– 1 cup puffed quinoa
– ½ cup sunflower seeds

Method:
1. Combine the oats, protein powder, milk, orange zest and juice in a tub, place the lid on and refrigerate for at least 4 hours (or overnight).

2. Pre-heat the oven to 180°C, line a medium-sized baking tin with non-stick baking paper, and grate the zucchini into a bowl. Squeeze out any excess liquid.

3. Combine the zucchini with the rested oats, puffed quinoa and seeds in a large mixing bowl, and mix until totally combined and there are no dry “lumps” in the mixture.

4. Pour the mixture into the tin and smooth out with a spoon or spatula.

5. Bake for 25 – 30 minutes, or until golden brown on top.

6. Cool in tray for 5 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack to finish cooling. Slice up your “muesli bars” and store in an airtight container in the fridge up to 5 days.

Cook this: Gluten & sugar free banana bread (from Balance by Monica)

If you were reading last week, you might have seen this post where I introduced my sister’s brainchild, Balance By Monica; starting small with Instagram to share her food creations until she has her nutrition qualification to go along with her teaching, psychology and health instructor ones, at which point the empire will no doubt expand.

I also promised to share a recipe from her; I mentioned in my post that a lack of education is a big problem when it comes to making healthy, balanced choices, and when you have food intolerances, that only makes it all the harder. But, even though there are a lot more instances of food intolerances these days, we’re also lucky to have a lot more access to information on how to deal with and adapt to them. If you have issues with gluten, lactose and/or sugar, this ones’s for you!

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Ingredients:
– 2 ripe bananas, mashed, plus 1 more banana, peeled and cut in half length ways
– ½ cup rolled oats
– ¾ cup almond meal
– ¾ cup LSA mix (available from health food stores)
– 2 eggs, lightly whisked
– ¼ cup milk (regular, almond, soy, whatever!)
– 2 tbsp plain vanilla or Greek yoghurt
– 2 tbsp Stevia or honey
– 1 tsp baking powder
– 1 tbsp chia seeds

Method:
1.Pre-heat the oven to 180°C and grease a loaf tin or line it with non-stick baking paper.

2. Add all ingredients (except the banana halved length ways and the chia seeds) into a large mixing bowl and stir together to combine completely.

3. Pour the batter into the tin and smooth it out with a spatula.

4. Top the cake with the extra banana and sprinkle with chia seeds.

5. Bake for 60min or until a skewer inserted into the centre of the cake comes out clean. Rest in the tin until cool enough to handle, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.

Cook this: Vanilla raspberry protein loaf (lactose, sugar & gluten free)

I actually really enjoy baking with protein powder, and think it can be a bit of an underrated ingredient in the kitchen. If you can find one with a good flavor (I love a strong vanilla), it’s a great addition; it’s also a convenient way to pass off treats as “healthy”  ; )

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Anyway, when I saw this recipe on my blog roll a few weeks ago, I saved it to make later, and I finally got around to it this week. It’s a great one for those with special diets (you can substitute flour for more nut meal or GF flour if you’re coeliac), there’s no refined sugar unless you want to add some (but I find the sweetness from the berries good enough for me), you can use oil instead of butter if you prefer, and you can use any milk you want if you need a lactose free version. While the original recipe uses raspberries (and used them too because they’re my favourites), you can really use any frozen berries.

Also, it’s Friday – and if you want to treat yourself without totally eating crap, you may as well 🙂 Here’s my version of the protein berry loaf, inspired by Healthy with Anja’s recipe.

 

Ingredients:
– ½ rolled oats
– ½ cup plain flour, sifted
– ½ cup almond meal
– 2 scoops protein powder (I like vanilla Vital protein, which also happens to be vegan and dairy/soy free)
– 1 tsp baking powder
– ¼ heaped cup shredded coconut
– 2 large eggs, whisked
– 25g butter, melted and cooled
– ½ cup milk
– 1 heaped tbsp plain Greek yoghurt
– 1 cup frozen raspberries

Method:
1. Pre-heat the oven to 180ºC and line a loaf tin with non-stick baking paper.

2. Combine the oats, flour, almond meal, protein powder, baking powder and coconut in a large mixing bowl.

3. Use a wooden spoon to mix in the eggs until completely combined, then add in the butter, again mixing until completely combined.

4. Stir in the milk next, a bit at a time (you may not need it all) until it comes together in a good cake-batter consistency.

5. Pour half the batter into the prepared tin and spread about two thirds of the raspberries over it. Cover the raspberries with the rest of the batter, and sprinkle the remaining berries over the top.

6. Bake for 30 minutes, then remove from the oven and cover with foil; bake for another 15 – 20 minutes, until cooked through.

 

 

** Note – this is definitely more of a loaf than a cake in terms of sweetness, so if you want it a bit sweeter, add a tablespoon or two of caster sugar in with the dry ingredients **

Cook this: cacao nib & oat cookies (sugar, lactose & gluten free)

So, a flare up of stomach issues have necessitated a return to slightly stricter low-FODMAP regulations. Again. But that’s not as bad as it was the first time around – I know more know, and know what my body can and can’t deal with a little better.

I was browsing Instagram for recipe ideas the other week, and came across this gorgeous picture from @edgarraw – his Gluten Free Chocolate Chip Oatmeal Cookies. Ummmm yes please! I’m an oat addict, and an even bigger chocolate lover, so these looked pretty good even before I scrolled through to the recipe.

Once I got to the recipe, I also found it included other favourite ingredients of mine – cacao nibs, dried dates and almond milk. Despite the severe fructose intolerance, I actually stomach a little dried fruit (yay!), so while it might look like a LOT of dates in this recipe, remember it’s divided between the whole batch. This recipe is also sugar free, as the cookies get all their sweetness from the dates – basically makes them health food. I made some changes (as usual) and was stoked with the result! Here’s my version of Edgar’s cookies…

Ingredients:
– 1½ cups loosely packed dried dates
– ½ cup almond milk
– 1 tsp vanilla extract
– ½ cup almond meal or gluten free plain flour
– ½ tsp baking powder
– 1 cup rolled oats
– ¼ cup flax seeds
– ¼ cup toasted cacao nibs
– ¼ cup shredded coconut

Method:
1. Soak the dates in super hot water for an hour.

2. After soaking, pre-heat the oven to 180°C and line an oven tray with non-stick baking paper.

3. In a large bowl, combine all of the dry ingredients – the flour, baking powder, oats, flax seeds, cacao nibs and shredded coconut.

4. Drain the dates and place them in a food processor with the milk and vanilla extract. Blend until a paste comes together.

5. Spoon the paste mixture into the dry ingredients and mix well to combine completely. If it’s too dry, add a little water to help bring it all together.

6. Take tablespoons of the mixture and shape into balls, placing them on the oven tray with a little space in between.

7. Bake for 15 minutes, and cool on the tray. Enjoy!

Cook this: quick & healthy – baked cacao nib, strawberry & vanilla overnight oats

If you follow my real lifestagram, you may have noticed this guy last weekend…

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And if you’ve been reading along on the blog for a while, you may have noticed a few oat-based breakfast recipes. Like this one for coconut blueberry overnight oats, this one for chocolate peanut butter porridge, this one for PB&J overnight oats and this one for home made granola deliciousness, among others. Best breakfast food ever, because oats are so damn versatile. Sweet or savoury, hot or cold, freshly prepared or made in advance, they’re the ultimate in breakfasting.

Until recently, I’ve been destroying a jar of overnight oats for breaky every morning, but with the cold weather finally on it’s way, warmer breakfasts are being craved. I really love oven baked oats, when I have the time for them on weekends, which isn’t very often, so I had an idea to try to speed up the process a little so that I could have “baked” oats for breakfast on a work day, too, be it at home or at my desk.

Basically, you’re just making your regular jar of overnight oats. Then, in the morning, you’re scooping them out of the jar and into a microwave safe oven dish or giant soup mug, and microwaving them for a few minutes until they’re warm and set, kinda like a cake. Because they’ve been resting overnight in the milk, they will have softened enough to compensate for not being slowly cooked in the oven or on the stove, but they still develop into a nicely, solidly baked consistency that makes it basically like eating cake for breakfast. Which is never a bad idea. Mine is also gluten free and FODMAPs friendly, which should also make for a happy stomach post-breakfast for anyone else out there who’s got stomach problems like I seem to!

Ingredients for one perfect breakfast:
– ½ cup rolled oats (use wheat free if severely FODMAPs intolerant)
– ¼ cup diced strawberries
– 1-2 tsp toasted cacao nibs and shredded coconut
– 20g vanilla protein powder (fantastic to add to your breaky oats to help really fill you up at breakfast and stop you snacking as much throughout the morning. I use the Raw Amazonia vanilla protein which is wheat, dairy, egg, soy, GMO and nut free, vegan, low carb, low fat, and also tastes surprisingly amazing! My delicate stomach also loves this stuff and never feels crap after it, so that’s another huge win in my books!).
– ½ cup milk of choice – I use almond milk because it tastes fantastic with the vanilla and strawberries

And then:
1. Before you go to bed, combine the oats, strawberries, cacao nibs and coconut in a jar and shake to combine.

2. In another small jar, combine the protein powder and milk, shake thoroughly to blend and make sure there are no clumps of protein powder stuck at the bottom. If you want extra vanilla, add a little vanilla extract in there, too.

3. Pour the protein milk into the oat jar, shake, and leave it in the fridge overnight.

4. The next morning, spoon the oats out of the jar and into a small baking dish or soup mug. Microwave for 2 – 4 minutes, depending on the strength of your microwave and the desired consistency of your oats; less time will leave it with a bit of a baked “crust” on top, but still a bit soft in the centre, longer microwaving time will cook it through a little more.

5. IMPORTANT: let it rest for a minute or two before digging it – it will be burn-your-mouth hot, trust me.
That’s it. Stupidly easy, filling, delicious, healthy breakfast. So you don’t have to worry tonight, because Monday mornings are hard enough – just throw this all into a jar before you go to bed, and you’ve got one less problem tomorrow morning! And if strawberry/coconut/chocolate isn’t your thing, you can use whatever else you want! Blueberries and almonds, figs and walnuts, golden raisins and sunflower seeds, whatever you’ve got in the pantry/fridge!

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Cook this: quick & healthy – coconut, cacao & raisin bliss balls

Let me preface this post with the following statement: I hate the term “bliss balls.” I hate the idea of only eating “clean.” I hate that there are people out there who think a protein ball or a bowl of blended frozen banana is a proper substitution for a chocolate chip cookie. I think people who refuse to eat carbs or fat or chocolate or burgers are complete lunatics. Not saying that I’ve got my shit completely together, especially when it comes to food (working in the health and fitness industry for 10 years has messed me up more than I ever thought possible and left me an anxious and disordered eater). All that said, I didn’t know what else to call these little balls, and apparently the correct term is a “bliss ball,” so that’s why we’re here.

NOW, food. I came to make these little guys because:
a) my stomach hates me and is allergic to goodness only knows what these days
b) I had some left over vanilla protein powder that has a bit of lactose in it, so it’s no longer good for use every day in my morning oats and chia puddings, so I’ve started to use it in baked good, like these cookies.
c) they’re healthy, so I can have more than one
d) they’re a great little quick nibble when I need something between getting home from work and dinner time to stop the grumbling stomach and hold me over, or after dinner with a cup of tea when I’m still a bit hungry but don’t actually need a heap more food
e) they can easily adapt to special diets – gluten free, lactose free, refined sugar free, low FODMAPS, easy!
f) they’re actually really delicious

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You’ll need (makes around 25 of them):
– 200g golden raisins
– 1 tbsp golden or maple syrup
– 2 tsp vanilla extract
– ½ cup rolled oats
– ½ cup shredded coconut, cashews, almonds, or any nuts you prefer, really
– ¼ cup vanilla protein powder
– 2 – 3 tbsp toasted cocoa nibs
– vanilla protein powder and/or cocoa powder to roll the balls in

 

And then:
1. Place the raisins in a bowl and cover with very hot (almost boiling) water. Leave them to soak for 5 minutes, then drain them and pat them dry with paper towel.

2. Put the raisins, syrup and vanilla extract into a food processor, and process until the raisins start to break down a little.

3. Add the oats, coconut and protein powder, and process until they all come together into a sticky ball.

4. Take the mixture out of the food processor and place it into a bowl with the cocoa nibs and mix together well.

5. Roll teaspoons of mixture into balls, and then roll in the protein powder/cocoa powder to coat.

6. Place the balls on a baking paper covered plate/tray and rest in the freezer for 5 – 10 minutes, then transfer to a plastic tub and keep in the fridge for up to a week (if they last that long).