Quinoa Crackle Banana Bread

Quinoa Crackle Banana Cake 1

You may have sensed a bit of a theme here….this is indeed another healthy(ish) make-ahead snack option. Possibly my favourite so far, especially because it is SO EASY. The key is to get really nice juicy big dates, their caramel flavour turns what are otherwise plain ingredients (including raw quinoa!) into something that tastes good enough to eat for dessert.

Quinoa Crackle Banana Cake 2

Quinoa Crackle Date-nana Bread

Inspired by Deb Perleman’s Crackly banana bread with millet

  • 3 large very ripe bananas
  • 1 egg
  • 1/3 cup extra virgin coconut oil (in oil form, warm it if solid)
  • 1/3 cup dark muscovado sugar
  • 1/4 cup liquid sweetener of choice – I used half maple, half golden syrup (as maple is a bit pricey for my student budget)
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • Good pinch of salt
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
  • 1/4 tsp ground cloves
  • 1 1/2 cups wholemeal flour
  • Scant 1/3 cup raw quinoa (the red kind looks particularly pretty)
  • 7 big juicy dates, pitted and cut into small chunks (approx 0.5×0.5cm) – or 8 smaller dates
  • Heaped 1/2 cup of walnuts, roughly chopped

Preheat the oven to 180˚C and generously butter a loaf tin.

In the bottom of a large bowl, mash bananas with a fork or the back of a wooden spoon to desired consistency – I’m not a big fan of banana chunks so I mashed mine until very smooth, but feel free to leave a few lumps if you like that.

Whisk in egg, then oil, brown sugar, then maple syrup or sugar of your choosing. Sprinkle baking soda, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg and cloves over the batter and stir until combined. Stir in flour until just combined, then quinoa, then dates and walnuts.

Pour your mixture into the loaf tin and bake until a fork or skewer comes out clean, about 45 minutes. Leave to cool for a few minutes and then transfer to a baking rack. Try to avoid cutting into while still warm (good luck).

Storage: these keep beautifully sliced up in the freezer. Be sure to put them in the freezer quickly though otherwise you might eat it all before you get a chance…

Homemade berry-date fruit bars

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This is another attempt to fill my freezer with healthier snacks I can grab when I have busy days at the hospital. I love the organic fruit bars you can buy (i.e. apricot and manuka honey) but they cost way too much for my student budget. Enter a homemade version, and this way you know exactly what’s in it as well!

Berry-date wholemeal fruit bars

Adapted from Food and Whine: Homemade fruit bars

Filling:

  • 10 dates, pitted
  • 1/2 cup dried blueberries
  • 1 cup frozen mixed berries
  • 1/2 cup water

Dough:

  • 120g unsalted butter, softened
  • 1/3 cup muscovado or dark brown sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup oats
  • 2 generous tbsp flax seeds
  • 3/4 cup cup wholemeal flour
  • 3/4 cup plain flour

Preheat the oven to 180˚C. Line two cookie trays with baking paper.

In a saucepan, simmer filling ingredients on medium-low until the water has evaporated and the fruit looks quite soft.  Leave to cool for a few minutes.

Blitz oats and flax seeds in food processor until you get a coarse flour. Transfer to a bowl. Blitz your fruit mix in the processor and set aside.

Cream the butter and sugar, then add the egg and vanilla and beat until smooth. Stir in the flours and oat-flaxseed until a dough forms (if too sticky add some more flour). Flour your workspace and divide dough into manageable portions (I did 3). Roll the dough out on floured board until about 0.5cm thick. Trim edges to make a rectangle. Leaving 5cm space on the edge, place a line of filling along the rectangle, then fold over the dough to make a bar. It will look fragile and like it can’t possibly hold together but it will! Cut your roll into your desired sizes and place on the trays. Repeat until you have used all the dough and filling (any excess dough can be turned into thumbprint jam cookies!). Bake in the oven for 18-20 minutes or until lightly golden (not too dark). Transfer to a wire rack to cool, where they should firm up a bit and become quite hardy.

Makes ~20 4cmx4cm bars with a bit of leftover dough. Store baked bars individually wrapped in the freezer for convenient healthy snacking or leave on the bench in an airtight container for a few days.

Delicious, easy and healthy(ish) muesli bars

As a busy medical student I am always looking for a reasonably healthy and portable snack. Ideally, this means making it at home but the few muesli bar recipes I have tried have been quite time-consuming and involved. Not this one. A virtually no cook recipe, that makes firm and delicious muesli bars that freeze beautifully when individually wrapped and can easily be grabbed on the way out the door!

Peanut butter maple syrup muesli bars

Adapted from sproutedkitchen.comImage

  • 1.5 cups rolled oats
  • 1 cup rice bubbles/rice puff cereal (essential for crispiness)
  • 1 cup brown rice puffs (to make it a bit healthier!)
  • Heaped 1/2 cup roughly chopped mixed nuts – I used equal parts almonds, walnuts and pecans
  • 2 tbs flaxseeds
  • 14 pitted dates
  • 1/3 cup your choice of sweetener – I used equal parts maple syrup, golden syrup and agave but you could use any combination of liquid sugars (I think brown rice syrup would work too)
  • 1 cup natural peanut butter (I used half Kraft peanut butter to keep costs down and it still worked fine)
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • Pinch of sea salt
  • 50g dark chocolate

Preheat the oven to 180˚ and line a 28×28 baking pan. Toast the oats on a tray for 10 minutes and set aside.

In a large mixing bowl, combine both types of rice puffs, chopped nuts, flaxseed seeds, oats and mix. Chop the dates into something resembling a chunky paste (could be done in the food processor).

Gently warm the sugars, peanut butter, cinnamon, salt and stir to mix. Leave to cool for a minute or two. Pour the warm mix and dates over the dry ingredients and squish everything together, breaking up the date clumps with your hands to break them up. Be careful as the sugar-peanut butter mix can be quite hot, make sure you’re not going to burn yourself and then get stuck into it and make a big sticky mess.

Press the mixture into the lined pan in an even layer, using the bottom of something flat to push the mixture down tightly as possible. The tighter it is squashed, the better the bars stay together.

In a glass bowl over a pot of simmering water, melt the chocolate until smooth. Drizzle the chocolate over the pan of bars, you will probably have some chocolate left over but I prefer a light drizzle. Chill in the fridge for at least an hour before cutting. Keep covered in the fridge where they last around 5 days or wrap them individually and store in the freezer ready to grab on the go.

I am planning on trying a few variations on this in the next couple of weeks. I’m thinking:

  • Dried apricot, date and macadamia with white chocolate drizzle
  • Dried cherry, pecan and dark chocolate
  • Almond butter, apple and cinnamon with no chocolat