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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.

anytime-bars-2

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MINI SPELT BANANA LOAVES

MINI SPELT BANANA LOAVES

My son spent 5 days on his school camp last week. In preparations, while packing, I was trying to give him lots of well meaning advice. The usual: listen to your teachers and instructors, don’t do anything silly, make sure you shower (at least twice please!), change your underwear daily, brush your teeth.... and of course :”Please try to eat at least a little bit healthy.”

I was hoping for the best, but I knew there would be temptations on every corner. He did come home with a huge bag of sweets, but also a present for his sister (aaahhhh). He had a pudding every day and quite a bit of cheese. On the other hand, he said, he made sure he ate salad and a bowl vegetable soups every day. Pizza was on offer as a part the salad buffet, but apparently he only had it once because he didn’t want to eat too much unhealthy food. “And mum, I always asked for extra vegetables!” This left me wanting to dance a jig! I restrained myself. First and foremost I don’t know how to dance a jig and I really needed to keep my cool. Pretend this is not a big deal... But I did tell him how proud I was.

Few weeks ago I had a conversation with one of my friends about my kids and foods. I did tell her how I do bore them out of their skin telling them about the nutrients in the food they eat. She did say to be careful so they don’t rebel few years down the road. And yes, this is a possibility, but what teenager doesn’t rebel? I do believe that some of this information will stick in their head and they will come to see healthy food as the norm. At the moment my 10 year old seems to be doing quite well.

As a parent you can hope for the best. There are far too many kids who see junk food as the norm and these habits are hart to break. Even if my kids deviate from “our norm” from time to time, going back to whole natural foods won’t ever be alien to them.

Whilst helping me cook pasta for dinner, my son said “I hate brown pasta, we had normal pasta at camp”. Still he managed to eat 2 plates of the horrible hated brown pasta, saying it was rather nice.... Nice try! Next thing is weaning him of the sweet stuff... spelt mini banana loaves without added sugar are a good start.

mini spelt banana loaf with a glass of almond milk
bananaloaf-with-milk

MINI SPELT BANANA LOAVES

These loaves are more dense than a regular cake, they remind me of bread pudding. One easily serves 2 people.

Makes 4 mini loaves or one standard loaf

ingredients:
2 Tbs ground chia seeds
125ml (1/2 cup) water
250ml (1 cup) of almond (or other non dairy) milk
3 Medjol dates
2 medium overripe (or very ripe) bananas
1 Tbs apple cider vinegar
1 tsp bicarb soda
260g (2 cups) wholegrain spelt flour
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp cinnamon
pinch of salt
1 medium apple
Walnuts about 2 Tbs per loaf

ready for the oven
bananaloaf-unbaked

method
  1. Preheat the oven to 180C.
  2. First mix the ground chia seeds and 125ml (1/2cup) water. Let sit for 10min, the mixture will sort of jellify....
  3. In the meant time put almond milk, dates and bananas into your blender and blend till smooth.
  4. Add the vinegar and bicarb soda to the almond milk mixture.
  5. In a large mixing bowl combine the flour, baking powder, cinnamon and pinch of salt.
  6. Grate the apple and add to the flour together with the almond milk mix and soaked chia seeds.
  7. Mix together well.
  8. You can mix in the walnuts now or leave them for the topping (you can double the amount of walnuts and use them both in the cake mix and on the top if you wish)
  9. Divide the mix between 4 non stick mini loaf pans.
  10. Top with the walnuts and bake 25-30min or until the cake springs back when you press it with your finger. You can also use a skewer - the loaf is cooked when it comes out clean.
  11. Let cool in the tins and invert carefully (any runaway nuts are an extra treat for the cook)

mini spelt banana loaves straight from the oven (one without nuts for my daughter)
bananaloaf-baked
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SWEET MAMA SQUASH BREAD

SWEET MAMA SQUASH BREAD

It may be long past Halloween but the pumpkin still rules. Sweet mama squash to be precise. As I learned from the Riverford website this is a late season variety. It has deep orange sweet flesh. And so many uses. I find it has much less water than most squashes and when roasted it comes out nearly crumbly yet with incredibly sweet intense flavour.

Pumpkins or winter squashes are not the easiest vegetables to deal with. Butternut squash is an exception, as it can be peeled with a regular swivel peeler and has less seeds. Sweet mama squash needs a bit of brute force to break into, very big sharp knife and lots of care if you want to preserve your fingers... The only way to peel it is to cut the squash into wedges first and than just careful cut the skin off the pieces. In my recipe there is not need for peeling, just roast the wedges and peel later (or just scrape the flesh away from the skin with a spoon).

My first recipe is for a pumpkin bread. I thought bread with hidden pumpkin sounded like a great idea and everything was going swimmingly until it was time to take it out of my super non-stick bread tin. That proved a challenge... eventually after I prised couple slices out I was able to lift the bread out. The lesson being : nothing is perfectly non-stick... and pumpkin bread is much stickier that the regular kind...

to roast the squash
Cut 1 squash into wedges, about 8, remove stringy flesh with seeds. Line a roasting sheet with a baking paper, coat the pumpkin with 1/2Tbs olive oil and roast in a 200C oven for about 25min. When pierced with knife the squash flesh should be soft and caramelised around the edges. Use 250g of the squash flesh for sweet mama recipe number 1 and keep the rest for tomorrow’s recipe.

roastedsquah

SWEET MAMA SQUASH BREAD

This is definitely not a sandwich bread, it is has more of a “cakey” texture. Great for breakfast with some jam or to accompany soup. You could also make small bread rolls out of this dough.

ingredients
250g (9oz) roasted sweet mama squash flesh, skin removed
1 sachet of instant yeast
1Tbs +1 tsp olive oil
250ml (1 cup) warm water
1 tsp salt
280-350g (2-2 1/2 cups) wholegrain spelt flour
1tsp salt
3 Tbs pumpkin seeds

risen dough
pumpkindough

method
  1. Mash the squash flesh.
  2. In a large bowl, mix the water, yeast and olive oil.
  3. Add the squash flesh and mix well. No need to add sugar as the squash has enough sugar in it to activate the yeast.
  4. Next start adding the salt, 2Tbs of pumpkin seed and flour (bit by bit), how much you need really depends on how dry your squash flesh was. Keep mixing as you add the flour.
  5. When the dough starts to come together turn it out on a floured board and kneed for about 7-10min. This dough is quite sticky you may have to add more flour.
  6. Spread the remaining olive oil on the ball of dough, place into a bowl, cover with cling film and leave to rise for 1 hour.
  7. When the dough has doubled in size turn it onto a floured surface and need again for about 2min. Place into a greased (or lined with grease-proof paper) bread tin. Let is rise for another 25min.
  8. Preheat the oven to 200C.
  9. Place into a preheated oven. Bake for about 30min until the bread is brown and sounds hollow when you knock on it.
  10. Let cool and enjoy.

pumpkinbread
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