Cook this: cacao, puffed quinoa & pistachio granola

I have the most ridiculous accumulation of cookbooks at home, and at one point had started to hoard magazines, as well.

When I realised how out of control it was getting, I decided to consolidate all of my favourite recipes from my magazines into smaller collections; I went out and bought a few large spiral notebooks and went through my magazines, cutting out the recipes I actually liked and thought I’d cook. I stuck them into the notebooks, and they now sit in a nice, neat little pile on my bookshelf.


I go through them every few weeks to find inspiration and ideas I’d forgotten I’d collected, and found some new breaky inspiration in one of my books last week; a Donna Hay granola recipe, using puffed quinoa, which I’ve been wanting to try adding to my breakfast oats for a while now.

I made a few changes to suit my tastes and pantry supplies, and ended up with an incredible mix, and the perfect way to enjoy a chocolatey breakfast without the extra sugar and calories – happy!

 

Ingredients: (makes 1 large jar)
– 1/4 cup cacao powder
– 1 tbsp brown sugar
– 6 tbsp water
– 2 cups puffed quinoa
– 2 cups rolled oats
– 100g pistachios, roughly chopped
– 1/4 cup chia seeds
– 1/2 cup cacao nibs
– 1 cup shredded coconut

Method:
1. Pre-heat the oven to 180°C and line a large oven tray with non-stick baking paper.

2. Heat the cacao (or cocoa) powder, sugar and water in a small saucepan over low heat, gently mixing until the sugar has dissolved, then remove from the heat to cool a little.

3. While that cools, combine all of the remaining ingredients in a large mixing bowl.

4. Pour the liquid over the dry ingredients and stir thoroughly to coat and combine.

5. Spread the mixture over the oven tray, and bake for 20 – 25 minutes, mixing it around every 5 minutes or so to ensure it cooks evenly.

6. Cool completed on the tray, and store in an airtight jar or container 2 – 3 weeks.

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Cook this: Cake drops V.2 – the Jaffa edition (orange, polenta & cacao)

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So, last week I posted a recipe for “superfood” cake drops, made with goji berries, cacao nibs and chia seeds, the inspiration for which came from Heather at Skinny Fat Girl. Anyway, over the week, I was thinking about other ways I could play around with this versatile little recipe, and make it more my own. One of my all time favourite sweet combinations is orange and polenta (looove orange and polenta cookies!), and I’m obviously a chocoholic (thanks, dad), so I decided to combine the lot to give it a bit of a Jaffa spin – while I absolutely cannot stand Jaffa lollies, with their crappy quality chocolate and rancid imitation orange flavouring, I absolutely love the combination of REAL orange and REAL chocolate!

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Ingredients
– ¼ cup plain flour (gluten free if needed)
– ¼ cup almond meal (if you don’t have this lying around/don’t want to buy it, just use another quarter cup of flour instead)
– ½ cup polenta
– 1 tsp bicarb soda
– ¼ cup caster sugar (alternatively, honey for refined sugar free version, maple syrup for FODMAP friendly version, or Stevia or similar for lower calorie version)
– 125g yogurt (I like Liddells lactose free plain vanilla, but if you’re not lactose intolerant, plain, natural Greek yogurt is perfect)
– 1 tsp vanilla extract
– 1 tbsp freshly squeezed orange juice
– 1 egg white
– 2 tbsp toasted cacao nibs
– finely grated rind of 1 orange

Method
1. Preheat to 180ºC.
2. Combine the flour and/or almond meal, polenta, bicarb and sugar in a large bowl, then stir through the yoghurt, vanilla extract, orange juice and egg white until completely combined.
3. Stir in the cacao nibs and orange rind, until they’re evenly mixed through.
4. Baking option 1: scoop out tablespoons of batter onto a lined oven tray.
Baking option 2: scoop batter into mini muffin tins, either lightly spraying the tins first with a neutral cooking oil, or lining them with mini cupcake cases.
5. Bake for 10 minutes, or until just golden on top. Once cooled, these can be stored for almost a week in an airtight container

Just like the original “superfood” cake drops, these are light and airy, moist and delicious. And because they’re so quick and easy to make, come from all pantry staples, and can be made to be so tummy friendly, they’re now basically a staple in our house!  polenta cake drops 3

Cook this: peanut butter oat slice (gluten free, lactose free & low FODMAPs!)

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You may have noticed, I’m doing some more special diet-friendly recipes at the moment. I’ve noticed that there’s not a lot out there if you do have certain intolerance, and the food that is out there isn’t always amazing. With my past as a personal trainer and degree in exercise science and nutrition, I actually really enjoy playing around with recipes to make them a little healthier and/or friendlier to sensitive tummies and what not. I’ve also been quite ill lately, and am trying to find out if there’s something my body perhaps can’t tolerate, like lactose or gluten or who-knows-what.

Anyway, as has been well documented, I am a nanna, I like tea, and I cannot have my tea without a slice of cake or a biscuit or even more cake with it. It cannot and should not be done. While I’m cutting out gluten and lactose and some other foods as per the low FODMAPs thing, I refuse to accept my only tea time treats as the crappy packaged “special” biscuits available at supermarkets. I’m not eating that stuff.

I adapted this recipe from a baked porridge recipe I came across and adjusted to perfection a few years ago – rather than making a baking dish full of baked porridge (which is amazing, by the way!), I decided to spread out the mixture over a larger, rectangular tray, so it would be a bit of a cake/slice/biscuit hybrid kind of thing.

 

You’ll need:
– 1½ cups oats (use wheat free to make it GF/low FODMAPs friendly!)
– 2 heaped tbsp brown sugar (if you prefer to go sugar free, you can use honey instead, 2 tbsp should do it!)
– 2 tbsp chia seeds
– 2 tbsp cacao nibs
– ½ cup mixed seeds (I used sunflower and pepitas)
– pinch of salt
– 1 cup milk of choice (I used almond milk)
– ¾ cup peanut butter (Mayvers, of course, my favourite!)
– splash of vanilla extract

And the super easy part:
1. Preheat the oven to 180°C and line a tray with non stick baking paper.
2. Combine all the dry ingredients in a large bowl.
3. Add all the wet ingredients.
4. Mix them together until they’re completely combined.
5. Smooth the mixture out in the tray, put it in the oven, and bake for 20 – 25 minutes

That’s it. Just let it cool completely before slicing it up and chowing down.

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It came out exactly as I wanted – soft and crumbly, great flavours, still sweet without being overly sugary, and chock full of things that are actually good for you and provide nutrients, rather than the processed and genetically modified stuff you buy in a package. The other great thing is that you can (obviously) play around with the add ins and use what ever you want – nuts, dried fruit, coconut, chocolate chips, whatever! Have fun making this one your own – would love to hear other combinations you guys have tried too!