Easy No-Bake Granola Bars

 

Where has this week gone? I feel like I’ve got absolutely nothing done and all of a sudden we’re being hurtled back into another weekend… ugh. Thankfully, I have had some precious time to spend in the kitchen creating this and that for the forthcoming book. These no-bake granola bars were a second attempt because the first batch were a bit too crumbly for my liking (I instagrammed them for posterity though!) so it was immediately back to the drawing board, which quickly resulted in me adding more nut butter and coconut oil – and hey presto, they came out perfectly. My Husband was so taken with them he wanted to bring the lot into work… unfortunately for him I still hadn’t yet snapped the little blighters for the blog so he’ll have to make do with a weekend’s worth of nutty, chewy bars at his disposal. I’m certain he won’t be complaining.

 

You could easily play about with the add-in’s … it would be great with goji berries and pistachios too. It’s such a stupidly simple recipe to whip up and (aside from refrigeration) would make a terrific last minute option for bake sales and the like. They’ve already been put on the snack rotation list here and, in my humble opinion, equal bliss balls in their nummy nutritional greatness – I’m going to have so much fun creating variations and already have my sights set on a full-on cacao version complete with nibs. Yep, this one is definitely a keeper.
 

what you’ll need

150g oats

1/2 tbsp maca powder (optional)

30g almonds, roughly chopped

30g sunflower seeds

30g pumpkin seeds

30g raisins

2 large medjool dates, chopped

30g desiccated coconut

30g chocolate chips

1 ripe banana

4 tbsp coconut oil, melted

3 tbsp peanut butter

2 tbsp cashew or almond butter

1 tsp vanilla extract

5 tbsp agave

pinch salt

 

what you’ll do

mix all the dry ingredients in a bowl.

 

mash the banana and whisk in the melted coconut oil, nut butters, vanilla extract and agave until completely smooth. pour over the granola mix and stir to combine.

 

line a brownie tin and tip the sticky granola into it, flattening to the edges with the back of a spatula.

 

refrigerate for at least 6 hours. cut lengthways into long bars and then halve each one – you should get about 16 bars from each batch.

 

tip: melt some dark chocolate chips and drizzle over the top before cutting. refrigerate for about 30 mins before serving.

 
 

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PANCAKE TUESDAY… Vegan ‘Buttermilk’ Pancakes


Photo Credit: ALI ALLEN

 

It’s Pancake Tuesday, which can only mean one thing… er, well, pancakes. As a self-confessed pancake crazed loon I have about a gazillion variations up my sleeve for such occasions but none really top my ultimate “Summer Berry ‘Buttermilk’ Pancake” recipe from my cookbook Keep it Vegan. It’s not too late to grab a ‘nana and some flour on your way home and whip up a storm in your kitchen after work – I know my Husband will be expecting a batch as soon as he walks through the door and I shall gladly oblige. The candied walnuts are my favourite pancake topping too. I just love the added bit of crunch they lend to the dish, particularly alongside the uber-soft pancakes… I’m a texture gal, through and through. Of course, seeing as it’s not summer, I’ll forgive you for opting for a more seasonal fruit although supermarkets seem to stock berries year round these days so you shouldn’t have a problem getting hold of them. What really sets these pancakes apart from the rest is the ‘buttermilk’ element, which is simply soya milk that has been mixed with cider vinegar and set aside to curdle – sounds horrendous, tastes incredible. It really gives this dish depth of flavour and renders them slightly fluffier too… whatever chemical reaction it instigates, I ain’t complain’ – just eatin’ ’em up and makin’ some more. Happy Pancake Day!!
 

Summer Berry ‘Buttermilk’ Pancakes

Makes 8-10 pancakes/serves 2-4

 

Pancakes are perfect brunch time fodder and a sure-fire way to get your weekend off to a good start as well as impressing guests. This basic mixture can be tweaked and added to as desired (blueberries, choc chips or raisins work wonderfully too), but I just love this candied walnut and nutmeg combo.

 

Ingredients:

For the pancakes

150g plain white flour

40g caster sugar

11/2 teaspoons baking powder

1 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda

pinch of sea salt

1/2 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg

240ml soya milk

1 teaspoon cider vinegar

1 banana, peeled and mashed

15g soya butter

1 tablespoon sunflower oil plus extra for cooking

 

For the candied walnuts

100g walnut pieces

1 tablespoon agave nectar

 

To serve

fresh berries

freshly grated nutmeg

agave nectar or maple syrup

 

Method:

1) In a large bowl thoroughly combine the dry pancake ingredients. Mix together the soya milk and cider vinegar in a jug, set aside for several minutes and allow to curdle – this will be the ‘buttermilk’ element.

 

2) Whisk the banana into the soya milk mixture. Make a well in the dry ingredients and add the milk mixture, folding gently until incorporated.

 

3) Melt the butter with the oil in a medium, non-stick frying pan and pour into the bowl, ensuring everything is fully incorporated – I use a whisk. Allow the pancake mix to sit for a while – the pancakes will puff up better.

 

4) Preheat the oven to 100°C/gas mark ¼. Heat a little more oil in the frying pan and add a small ladleful of mixture to form a pancake. Don’t overcrowd the pan – only cook one or two pancakes at a time. They should come to about 8cm in diameter. Cook until bubbles appear on the surface before flipping over and cooking for a further few minutes on the other side. Transfer to a plate and keep the pancakes warm in the oven – try not to stack them or they may go soggy.

 

5) Wipe the pan with kitchen paper, add the walnuts and toast on a medium heat for a few minutes before adding the agave. Allow the walnuts to become sticky and then slightly hard – stir constantly so they don’t stick to the pan.

 

6) Serve the pancakes with fresh berries, the candied walnuts, a good grating of nutmeg and lashings of agave or maple syrup. Brunch time!

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Cooking with Clearspring … Mega ‘Morning’ Chia Matcha Smoothie


 
It’s that time again … yup, ima cookin’ with Clearspring. Or rather, ‘constructing’ with Clearspring, as I’m not entirely sure making a smoothie counts as cooking. Regardless, this is one heck of a nutritious start to day, packed full of  ’em superfoods you hear people banging on about… and not without good reason too, I might add. Chia seeds are the buzzwords on everybody’s lips right now, partly due to their gelatinous texture when mixed with liquid that make them perfect for puddings and smoothies but also because, despite their minuscule form, they are nutritionally mighty. If you’re worried about your protein or omega-3 intake then these are the boys for you. They also happen to possess some antioxidant properties, which I’ve boosted further by the matcha inclusion. But (I hasten yo add) it’s not all about nutrition – it has to taste good too, so I’ve attempted to keep some flavour equilibrium by adding the dates (for sweetness, obvs.), kiwi, blueberries and lime… they have a touch of zesty sourness that work really well with the other ingredients. The avocado gives the smoothie that wonderful creaminess much in the same way a banana would but seeing as I know many of you like your smoothies sans banana, I thought this would be a terrific alternative. Not forgetting the coconut water too – in this instance it lends a much cleaner taste than plant milk. I must admit, I’m pretty taken with this particular ‘King Coco’ variety, which is seriously lush… I was tempted to just stick a straw in and be done with it but I’m glad I didn’t in the end because this smoothie was, well, mega.

 




 

what you’ll need 

1 tbsp chia seeds

1 bottle Clearspring ‘King Coco’ coconut water, chilled

1 heaped tsp Clearspring Matcha powder

1/2 avocado

1/2 kiwi

juice 1/2 lime

3 medjool dates, pitted

large handful blueberries

(optional) few ice-cubes

 

what you’ll do

place the chia seeds in a small bowl and cover with a little coconut water. set aside for 10 minutes to activate.

 

put everything into a high-speed blender (I use a Froothie) and blitz until completely smooth.

 

divide into two glasses and top with blueberries, chopped kiwi and chia seeds.

 

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Dressing for No-one

 

Vulnerability. This (not so) little word has been cropping up a lot of late and for some reason the notion behind it has really resonated with me. Being a self-confessed control freak probably means I am the least ‘vulnerable’ person in the world in the sense that I won’t allow myself to be. But, y’see, over the past year it’s begun to dawn on me that perhaps my lack of vulnerability isn’t doing me any good. In fact, I’d probably go as far to say it’s doing me actual harm. I keep joking with my Husband that ‘I’ve lost the ability to relax’, which would be funny if weren’t so true. Of course, there are things in my life I can’t help but fret about (my Dad’s illness is never far from my mind) but that still doesn’t account for my anxiety levels being continually through the roof. Up until recently I’d never considered myself to be an ‘anxious’ person but perhaps I just don’t know myself as well as I previously thought. Being permanently glued to the internet certainly doesn’t help matters although I have taken measures to combat this, such as not browsing the web before bedtime (yup, my New Year’s resolution is still going strong!) and also having designated internet-free days … we both did it last Saturday and it was bliss.

 

Okay, so at least I’m recognising things are not quite what they should be, and again, I keep coming back to this ‘vulnerability’ thing. How can I make myself more vulnerable? What does it entail? I know a lot of what is holding me back is the fear or failure or rejection – I am both a people pleaser and a perfectionist so this is particularly hard for me. Much like the rest of the world I also compare myself to others from time to time but with a seemingly endless bevy of beautiful, talented and witty females floating about this is basically a highway to no-where. So why do we do it? I have my own abilities and unique way of doing things … it may not be the best way but it works for me – and thankfully, a few other people seem to like it too. I’m generally happy with my appearance and have accepted my face and form for what they are although that doesn’t mean I won’t still have a ‘I hate my thighs’ tantrum from time to time. It’s only natural. Like most women I only see the bad bits when I look at images of myself, which is why you’ve not seen many outfit posts on here of late – I just couldn’t face editing photos of myself in various ridiculous poses.

 

However, in the interests of fully instigating this vulnerability melarkey I thought it only too apt to begin by opening myself up a little more on here. No, the shots are not in some fun location (baby steps) but I felt more comfortable easing myself back in, in my own back yard and the outfit is hardly noteworthy either, but again, this is all about offering up the truth and not some styled-to-the-max version of my very quiet Cornish life. Without a doubt my style has changed significantly since moving here – and if I’m being honest with myself, it’s definitely for the better. It’s a more laid back look these days with still the odd pop of colour and print but generally speaking I take my inspiration from places like Toast (I want everything), OSKA (my fav place to browse in St.Ives), Egg (one day I will visit this store!) and Margaret Howell (her ad campaigns are the epitome of cool, casual) than I do looking at trendy fashion blogs or their magazine counterparts. I simply can’t relate to it any more.

 

 

Paired down with a smidge of personality is the way forward for me, and I’m not even a little bit sad about it. It’s actually a relief not worrying about these things although that doesn’t mean I still don’t get excited by clothes – I’m currently obsessed with a denim pinafore I bought recently online and cannot wait to wear it. My eye is drawn to cleaner lines and dramatic shapes, as well as natural fabrics such a organic cottons and linens… ugh, and don’t even get me started on denim. This mustard cardi was a highstreet bargain I picked up on a recent trip to London. I would never normally shop at Forever 21 but it was only place open on Bond Street at the time and I was surprised (understatement) at how nice the range was … not super trendy with loads of nice basics. Who knew? And even though there’s a big part of me that hates to feed the fast fashion machine I couldn’t resist making a purchase – not a great excuse but my meagre budget will only stretch so far and with a price-tag of £6.99 I hadn’t the strength to walk away. It’s immediately become a staple in my wardrobe and I wear it almost everyday – like seriously, every-day.

 

The jeans you’ve seen before and the blouse was a secondhand find from when I worked in Kentish Town. Oh, and the shoes are an ASOS special that have come in very handy indeed. I’m a total mid-heel girl and these give me enough height without crippling me – I love their patent retro vibe too. Comfort is key here and whilst I might switch up the items, my core ensemble of late is resolutely jeans, tops, cardi, go. I may throw a scarf on my head but that’s about as adventuress it gets these days. So, I’ve clearly mastered the casual attire bit, now to work on that over-active mind of mine. Vulnerability, here I ruddy-well come.

 

what i’m wearing…
jeans/topshop
blouse/charity shop
necklace & cardigan/forever 21
shoes/asos

 



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Cooking with Clearspring … Coconut Rice Pudding with Prune Puree & Persimmon


 

Today marks the first in a series of posts I have dubbed ‘Cooking with Clearspring’, which will see me utilising a few of the truly awesome ingredients from their entirely vegan range of foodie goodies. If you don’t know already, I am huge fan of Clearspring products and use them all the time in my kitchen, so when they sent through a gift box full to bursting with noodles, (two different types of) miso, oil … and even matcha (!!!) I did a little happy dance and then promptly got down to cooking. I hummed and hawed what to use first before unleashing the power of the coconut in this Asian inspired twist on a very British classic – the mighty (and occasionally contentious) rice pudding.

 

Now, I’m sure we all have memories (good and bad) of rice pudding growing up – thankfully, mine are all triumphant. My Dad happened to be an expert rice pudding maker so you could say I learnt from the best. It was always unctuously creamy with just the right amount of sweetness. In a nutshell, this dessert spells home, comfort and quiet Sunday nights with a warming bowl of pud in my hand … ah, memories. And because those memories can never be matched, I knew it was time to put my own spin on things and so this coconut ‘sushi rice’ version was born – it certainly helps having top notch ingredients at your disposal too.

 

The sushi rice kernels are the perfect shape and size for this type of pudding. They won’t loose their shape and disintegrate into mush, and are just brilliant at absorbing all that yummy coco-nutty flavour … they also have a natural sweetness, which, when combined with the coconut milk, means you hardly have to add any sweetener at all. I choose to go down the palm sugar route with this one (keeping with the broadly speaking ‘Asian’ theme and all that) but you could easily sub it out for any sweetener of your choosing (agave, maple, brown rice syrup or even plain ol’ sugar). In my opinion though, quality coconut milk is crucial in this instance and because the Clearspring variety I used here was so smooth and creamy, all the hard work was done for me. I didn’t have to linger over the stove for hours on end like normal rice pudding either – just 30mins and, bingo, you’re done.

 

The biggest revelation for me was actually the prune puree. I could literally eat this stuff straight out of the pot and will definitely be using it again on yoghurt and oatmeal … it is sheer fruity heaven. Because it possesses all that lovely sourness, it was the ultimate antidote to the milky richness of the rice pudding. The persimmon (sharon fruit) was a final flourish on what is already a delightful dessert but feel free to leave it off if you can’t get your hands on one. Personally, I’m obsessed with these maple flavoured fruits, and therefore will use them at any available opportunity.

 

Even if you’re recoiling in horror at the thought of revisiting a school dinner-esque nightmare, I’m hoping this updated version might just be enough to sway you… your new and improved rice pudding future awaits!
 



 

 what you’ll need

1/2 cup Clearspring sushi rice

1 x can Clearspring coconut milk

1 heaped tbsp palm sugar

Clearspring prune puree

1 x persimmon/sharon fruit

desiccated coconut to garnish

 

what you’ll do

thoroughly rinse the sushi rice and set aside.

 

empty the contents of the coconut milk into a small pan and bring to a gentle simmer.

 

whisk in the rice and stir vigorously in the first few minutes to ensure the kernels don’t clump.

 

add the palm sugar and reduce to a low simmer, cover and cook for 30 minutes or until the rice is cooked through. It is vital you stir frequently to prevent sticking, adding a little water now and then if it appears too thick.

 

peel and slice the persimmon.

 

serve hot or cold topped with a spoonful of prune puree, sliced persimmon and dessicated coconut.

 

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