oats

OVERNIGHT OATS

OVERNIGHT OATS

Mornings tend to be rather manic in my house, sorting out breakfast for the kids, lunch boxes, the dog… the truth is I rarely have the time to eat breakfast myself. The truth is I really am not a breakfast person. My favourite thing is a glass of green juice. However on those days where lunch time is an unpredictable thing due to work commitments I need a something more, something that will keep me going.

Overnight oats are the perfect, stress free option. Ok, you do need to be organised and prepare them in the evening, a smart phone reminder is brilliant here if like me you find it hard to thing about a breakfast the night before. In the morning you just upturn your soft yummy oats into a cereal bowl, add some fruits and/or nuts and breakfast is served. I find oats prepared in this way so much lighter than cooked porridge.

You can experiment with many flavours. I tend to add some frozen berries (they defrost by the morning), chia seeds, cinnamon and almond or coconut milk. You can also soak the oats in apple juice and add a bit of non-dairy yoghurt in the morning. My son likes a teaspoon of maple syrup to sweeten up the oats but I find the oats sweet enough without it.

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OVERNIGHT OATS

a jam jar (that holds just over 1 cup) with a lid
frozen berries of choice
oats
chia seeds
non dairy milk
nuts
fresh fruits


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  • First place a layer of frozen berries at the bottom of the jar (about 2-3cm).

  • Add a layer of oats mixed with 1/2 tsp of cinnamon. The oats should go up to about 2/3 of the jar.

  • Next add 2 tbs of chia seeds (you can add a tablespoon of nuts here too).

  • Cover with non dairy milk.

  • Refrigerate over night.

  • Up turn into a bowl, add some fresh berries and nuts.


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BANANA COCONUT FLAPJACKS

BANANA COCONUT FLAPJACKS

Sugar has been getting a lot of bad press lately. And I will say rightly so. We do eat far too much and many of us don’t realize all the hidden sugars in processed foods. However I hate when a banana is being compared with coca cola or fruit smoothie with a glazed doughnut for sugar content.

Unlike cola banana has fibre, potassium, protein, vitamin C, calcium, magnesium,manganeses, folate and it even has a small amount omega fats in the right proportion. And yes a medium banana has 27.5g sugar. One can of cola has 33g of sugar and that’s pretty much it.... I know which one I would choose to eat.

Breast milk tastes sweet and maybe that’s why, from a very young age, we have an affinity for sweet taste. I notice my craving for sweet treats goes up when I am doing intense studying. Around 3pm every college weekend, there are serious calls for chocolate and if you happen to have a bar in your bag you score a lot of points with fellow students.

Last week I spend revising for an exam and even it involved a lot of sitting my need for food went way up. Brain needed fuel. Three overripe bananas in the fruit bowl and half an hour later I had these rather yummy banana coconut flapjacks. Yummy squidgy energy giving bars.

My daughter hates raisins or indeed any dried fruit apart from mango, so I opted for chocolate chips (not that I had to convince myself too much). If you are feeling more virtuous swap them for whatever dried fruit you fancy or just double the amount of nuts.

bananacoconutflapjack2

BANANA COCONUT FLAPJACKS
Makes 12 bars

ingredients
3 very ripe medium bananas
3 Tbs coconut oil, melted
135g (1 1/2cups) porridge oats (gluten free for a gluten free version)
90g (1cup ) coconut flour
45g (1/2 cups) plain chocolate chips
45g (1/2 cups ) walnut pieces

method
  1. Preheat oven to 180C.
  2. First line a 10x6 inch (15x25cm) baking form with baking paper.
  3. In a large bowl mash the bananas. Add in the melted coconut oil, porridge oats and coconut flour. Mix well
  4. Stir in the chocolate chips and walnuts.
  5. Tip the mixture into your prepared baking form, press down with a spoon and bake for 30min or until golden brown.


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ANYTIME FRUIT AND NUT BARS

ANYTIME FRUIT AND NUT BARS

Few years ago I read an article written by a mum who decided to take all electronic devices away from her kids during their summer holidays. She was astounded how quickly they started to entertain themselves (surprisingly no boredom). I am not as brave as this mum, but I have been setting limits on the screen time. I do it anyway, but during school holidays there are hours to fill unlike during school year.

It has been great to see, that on the days when we don’t have plans to go out, kids have found ways to enjoy themselves. We’ve had endless diving into the paddling pool to fish out toys, tennis rackets came out of their hibernation (my son spent three hand blistering hours bashing the ball against the house on one day), we had bobbing for toys in the kitchen sink (= flood) and numerous (very loud) games of UNO. Star Wars Lego has been spread all over my son’s floor (I forgot how painful stepping on a lego brick can be). My daughter has started her own “all about the human body” book and has put together numerous dance shows for me to watch. The best thing, they have been spending a lot time together without much bickering. The dreaded words "I am bored" haven't been heard much either.

The point is kids are pretty good at entertaining themselves when the push the button entertainment is taken away. It is noisier but happier without TV, Xbox or ipad. It is also healthier. And to fuel them I have made these anytime bars. I call them anytime bars because they can be eaten for breakfast, as a snack and they are also perfectly portable to take to picnics. They are rather open to variations, just swap the nuts and dried fruits for whatever you happen to have in your pantry :)

anytime-bars


ANYTIME FRUIT AND NUT BARS

makes 10 -12 bars

ingredients
1 cup porridge oats
1 cup spelt flour
1 banana
4 Mejdol dates
1/2 cup of non dairy milk
1/2 cup raisins
1/2 cup pecans
1/2 cup cranberries
1/2 -1 tsp cinnamon
1 apple, finely diced

  1. First combine the oats and spelt flour in a large bowl.
  2. In a blender combine the banana, Medjol dates and the non dairy milk. Blend till smooth. Add to the flour/oat mixture.
  3. Add the rest of the ingredients. Mix well.
  4. Spread the mix into a baking paper lined 10x6 (15x25cm) baking dish, press down firmly. Bake in 180C oven for 30-40 min or until golden brown on the top.
  5. Let the bake cool down, cut into bars and enjoy. Store in an air tight container for up to 4 days.

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BAKED SWEET POTATO FALAFELS

BAKED SWEET POTATO FALAFELS

The other day my son told me how a boy from his class bought a pack of biscuits for breakfast and brought it to school. My son was pretty pleased because his friend share the biscuits (and trans fats!) with his school mates.

My friend and I were talking about this over a nice lunch. We were trying to get our heads around how a 10 year old can be put in charge of buying his breakfast. I know he is not the only one, I hear stories of my son’s school friends buying extra large chocolate bars and cans of Red Bull before school.
We are both mum’s who understand how important good nutritions is for everybody, and especially growing kids. We can’t imagine being is a situation where we wouldn’t have anything in the house for kids to eat at breakfast. But there are households where this is the case, it is easier to give a child couple of quid and send them to a shop. I find that very sad. Especially since there has been a 4 fold increase in children treated in hospital for conditions linked to obesity.

My friend than talked about how her mum had knowledge about healthy eating without having access to the information we have today. The difference is she cooked, her mother cooked, her mother’s mother cooked. They passed the knowledge down the generations. Today the situation is different, many parents (I don’t want to blame the mum’s only) don’t cook, they look at the price and convenience when it comes to food not its nutritional value (healthy food doesn’t have to be expensive just look at http://agirlcalledjack.com/). Nutrition education at schools is not great, or dismissed by parents as rubbish. I did speak to someone who complained about school filling her daughters with rubbish and now she is refusing to even have a cake at home...

I have found, with my own kids, that it is not always easy to convince them to eat healthy. I know if I gave them money to buy their own breakfast they would walk out with a bar of chocolate or a croissant. And there are many things they refuse to eat. I still have the sweet potato hurdle to overcome. I do keep trying though... I came up with these sweet potato falafels hoping they might not realize... OK the colour gave the sweet potato away and than came the refusal but this will not stop me trying...


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BAKED SWEET POTATO FALAFELS
These can be also made into larger burgers, the mixture will make 6 burgers. They are also delicious cold the next day in a pitta bread with salad. They are yummy with a mango chutney.

ingredients
1 large sweet potato
1 tin chickpeas, drained
1 small onion, cut into chunks
2 cloves of garlic, crushed
1/2 cup rolled oats (use gluten free oats for gluten free version)
1 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp ground coriander
3 Tbs hemp seeds
2 Tbs of chickpea flour (if needed)

Makes 12

sweet-potato-falafels

method
  1. First peel, cut into large pieces and steam the sweet potato till soft.
  2. In a food processor process the chickpeas, onion, garlic and oats and process till the ingredients are coming together. You may have to stop and scrape the mixture down from the sides.
  3. Tip the mixture into a bowl, add the drained cooked potatoes, cumin, coriander and the hemp seeds. You can also add couple tbs of fresh coriander (which I didn’t have on hand).
  4. Using your hands mix everything together while crushing the sweet potatoes.
  5. If the mixture is too sloppy you can add couple tablespoons of chickpea flour.
  6. Line a baking tray with non stick baking paper. Make 12 - 16 falafels (I made 12 larger ones). The job will be easier if you wet your hands before shaping your falafels, the mix won’t stick to your hands. I find it I have to wet my hands every 3-4 falafels.
  7. Place the falafels on the baking sheet and bake at 180C for 20 minutes turning over half way through.


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ENERGY BARS

ENERGY BARS

“Let food by thy medicine and medicine be thy food” Hippocrates

Medical doctors are amazing, the knowledge they have to learn and retain (!), the responsibility they carry on their shoulders is immense. There is however a room for improvement. Dr Dean Ornish emphasised in one of his TED talks that you can’t only mop the floor, you also have to fix the tap. Don’t only treat symptoms, treat the cause.

Recently I watched my friend L struggling with her baby’s eczema, her son (born last September) was waking at night trying to scratch the itchy red skin, clearly suffering. She was at a breaking point, no mother wants to see their child in discomfort. Naturally she visited her GP and a dermatologist. Unfortunately their approach was using topical creams (not even emollient) and if those would not bring much relief, he was to be put on glucocorticoids. Rather scary prospect for a baby.

My friend decided to contact a naturopathic eczema specialist. Since she is breastfeeding her son, she was prescribed an exclusion diet. It is a big change, she isn’t even allowed her beloved green tea at the moment, but her baby boy’s skin is clearing up. Next step will be reintroducing foods to find the triggers. What a fantastic news! I wish her doctor was able to recommend a similar approach, it has no side effects! Actually it does, my friend feels great! she told me this way of eating is making her feel “light”. And of course there is not better feeling than seeing her beautiful son’s eczema on the retreat.

ENERGY BARS

This is perfect for “grab and go” breakfast or just a quick energy boosting snack. If you want to make this completely refined sugar free, skip the chocolate chips.
Makes 10 bars


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Ingredients
1 Tbs ground flax seeds
150g (1 and 3/4 cups) oats
50g (1/2 cup) pecans, chopped
80g (1/2 cup) dried apricots, chopped roughly into quarters
30g (1/4 cup) sunflower seeds
35g (1/4 cup) raisins
2 small bananas mashed, makes about 125ml (1/2cup)
1 Tbs date syrup
1/2 dairy-free chocolate chips (optional)

method
  1. Preheat your oven to 180C.
  2. First in a small bowl add 60ml (1/4 cup) of water to the flax seeds, let stand while preparing the rest of ingredients. The mixture will become viscous somewhat reminiscent of an egg.
  3. Mix together the oats, pecans, apricots, sunflower seeds and raisins.
  4. Add the mashed bananas, date syrup and flax seed mixture. Mix thoroughly.
  5. Line a 10x6 inch (15x25cm) baking dish with a greaseproof paper. I used a drop of water under each corner to keep it in place.
  6. Put all the mixture into your baking dish, press down firmly.
  7. Bake in the preheated oven for 20-25 min or until the top starts to turn golden brown.
  8. Let cool and cut into bars.



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ALMOND AND BANANA PORRIDGE

ALMOND AND BANANA PORRIDGE

Yesterday I ran into a friend of mine and somehow we ended up talking about porridge. She mentioned topping hers with brown sugar and was keen to know about alternatives. And yes there is a healthier way of sweetening her breakfast. So this recipe is for my beautiful friend N.

Sugar. It may be delicious but good for you it is not. According to scientists sugar is as damaging and addictive as tobacco and alcohol, there have even been calls for its taxation. I believe rather than taxing it we should be more aware how much sugar we consume and make a conscious decision to cut down. Our health is indeed in our own hands.

The less sugar you eat the more sensitive you become to its taste. You will find the sweet things you used to enjoy just taste sickly and you will prefer the natural gentle sweetness of food. And if you do want something more intense, there is always my favourite nature’s candy; the mighty dates. Unlike sugar and its empty calories, dates will give you whole host of vitamins, minerals and fiber. That is sweetness worth seeking.

ALMOND BANANA PORRIDGE
There are many different porridge oats so check the ratio to milk/oats and cooking instructions of the packet for best results. I used only one Medjool date for my portion of porridge, I did find it sweet enough but you can use 2 to get you started.

Serves 1

dateporridge

300ml (1 1/4cup) almond milk (unsweetened)
1-2 Medjool dates, stones removed
55g (1/2 cup) organic porridge oats
1 banana
1Tbs flaked almond, dry roasted

  1. In a small sauce pan start heating up the milk.
  2. In the meantime, chop your date(s), it will become a sticky mess, but don’t worry the dates will dissolve into your milk.
  3. Add the dates and porridge to your milk. Bring to a boil and turn the heat down.
  4. Simmer for about 7 min.
  5. Pour into a bowl, top with sliced banana and almonds.

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