Tag Archives: snacks

Chewy Fruit and Nut Muesli Bars

28 Feb

Chewy Fruit & Nut Muesli Bars

This is the next recipe in my Sweet & Healthy series. I used to buy muesli bars all the time, I took them to work and college to snack on in the afternoon, you know when you get that craving for something sweet. The companies that make these spend millions on packaging and marketing to make you believe that they are the healthy alternative and are actually good for you.

So no true.

Chewy Fruit & Nut Muesli Bars

Nearly all of them are packed with sugar and oil or butter so that any goodness you might be getting from the fruit, seeds and nuts is completely irrelevant. You might as well buy a toffee apple with a side order of candy floss.

Fruit & Nut Muesli Bars

Making your own is really quick and easy, you have complete control over what goes in them and you aren’t paying for fake organic looking packaging and advertising campaigns with sunny farms in them. If you don’t like raisins leave them out, prefer hazelnuts to almonds then put them in instead.

Chewy Fruit & Nut Muesli Bars

Chewy Fruit & Nut Muesli Bars Recipe

Makes 8-12 depending how you cut them. Vegan, Gluten-free

  • 1 large very ripe banana
  • 90 g (1 cup) oats (gf)
  • 5 Tbsp grated coconut
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 8 Tbsp (1/2 cup) flax meal
  • 1 Tbsp honey/agave syrup
  • 4 Tbsp oat milk (or your choice of milk)
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 50 g (1/3 cup) raisins
  • 50 g (1/3 cup) sunflower seeds
  • 50 g (1/3 cup) dried cranberries
  • 50 g (1/3 cup) flaked almonds

Preheat the oven to 175C and line a baking sheet with baking paper brushed with a little oil.

Put the chopped banana, oats, coconut, vanilla, flaxmeal, cinnamon and honey in a food processor and pulse together slowly. Add the milk a tablespoon at a time until it comes together. Add in the rest of the ingredients and pulse together again. You can blend it really well or leave some bits chunky.

Tip the mixture out onto the lined baking sheet and shape it into a flat, even square about 1/2 cm thick with a spatula. It takes a bit of time & patience to make it even but they will be easier to cut into squares or rectangles later. Top with a few more flaked almonds and sunflower seeds and press them down a bit.

Bake for 11-13 minutes until the edges are just starting to brown. Cut into 12 squares or 8 rectangles while still warm. Leave to cool and store in an airtight container.

Chewy Fruit & Nut Muesli Bars

It is my first Healthy Baking with Chocolate Workshop this Saturday 2nd March 5pm-9m. We will be making and tasting:

Chocolate Butterfly Cupcakes with Chocolate Ganache Filling

Dark Chocolate & Orange Almond Torte

Chocolate, Date & Walnut Energy Truffles

Chocolate, Hazelnut & Date Caramel Tart with an Almond Crust

Wholemeal Chocolate Chunk & Hazelnut Cookies

All of these recipes use wholemeal spelt flour or ground almonds rather than processed flours. We use coconut oil or olive oil instead of butter and use honey, maple syrup or miel de cana instead of refined sugars.

Here’s a preview of the cookies. If you are lucky I might have time to share the recipe with you next week…

Vegan Wholemeal Chocolate Chunk & Hazelnut Cookies

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Apple, Pear and Cinnamon Oatmeal Muffins

18 Feb

Apple Pear & Cinnamon Oatmeal Muffins

This is the next recipe from my Sweet & Healthy series that I didn’t realise I was doing until I just looked at all the recipes and photos I had waiting to publish and noticed that they were all sweet treats that are good for you. The previous recipe in the (now) series was for this Vegan Banana Bread with Dates & Almonds.

Apple Pear & Cinnamon Oatmeal Muffins

This is because The Washer Up likes something sweet to take to work with his lunch and I always end up snacking on whatever it is too, so it has to be healthy. These are brilliant for breakfast if you don’t have time to make anything and terrific for that afternoon tea break when you need a sweet fix.

Apple & Pear Oatmeal Muffins

They are like sweet apple and cinnamon porridge in a handy portable muffin disguise. And the oats really do keep you full for longer, it’s true. There is no butter and no sugar in these just olive oil and honey for sweetness. I made them using ground almonds to keep them gluten-free but you could use wholemeal spelt (or normal) flour instead.

I adapted the recipe from an amazing website called The Healthy Chef. I have the feeling it won’t be the last time I use one of her recipes if these muffins are anything to go by.

Apple Pear & Cinnamon Oatmeal Muffin

Apple, Pear & Cinnamon Oatmeal Muffins

Makes about 12 muffins. Gluten-free. Adapted from The Healthy Chef

  • 200 g (2 cups) rolled oats (GF)
  • 125 g (1 cup) ground almonds (or wholemeal/spelt flour)
  • 25 g (1/4 cup) flax meal (ground flax seeds)
  • 80 g (1/2 cup) raisins (I used moscatel, so juicy)
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 250 ml/1 cup (2 small pots) goat’s (or Greek) yoghurt
  • 4 eggs, lightly beaten
  • 4 Tbsp olive oil
  • 2 Tbsp honey
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 large apple, grated
  • 1 pear

Preheat oven to 160 C and line your muffin tin with paper cases.

Add the oats, flax meal, raisins, yoghurt, oil, vanilla, baking powder, cinnamon, honey and beaten eggs to a bowl and mix together. Leave to soak for 10 minutes to soften the oats.

Then grate in the apple with the skin and any juice up to the pips and mix through. Then add the ground almonds (or flour) and fold in gently.

Use an ice cream scoop (or large spoon) to fill the muffin cases then sprinkle over a few oats. Bake for 15 minutes then slice the pear into thin circles and place one on top of each muffin. Return to the oven for another 20 minutes or until a skewer inserted comes out clean.

Brush the tops with a little honey while still warm. Serve warm or at room temperature. Store in an airtight container.

Apple, Pear & Cinnamon Oatmeal Muffins

Coming up soon in my Sweet & Healthy series: Chewy Fruit & Nut Muesli Bars and Wholemeal Chocolate Chunk & Hazelnut Cookies.

Hasta Pronto!

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Pea and Potato Samosas with Plum Chutney

12 Oct

The wait is over. I have finally got around to taking step by step pictures of  The Washer Up making his samosas with spring roll wrappers. I have to say that he is not happy with his “old man hands” but I took the red hue down loads as well, it must be all that washing up…. Continue reading

Fig and Feta Sambousek with Homemade Harissa Sauce

6 Aug

The second wave of figs (higos) are just starting to ripen here now. This means that we have lots of figs.

We actually have a huge carrier bag full of them in the freezer that was given to us by our friend Leigh, thanks Leigh! Fig chutney was one of the first (in fact the second) recipe that I posted when I first started this blog last September. I’ve just made some more, it tastes great, really aromatic and spicy and it is amazing on a cheese sandwich.

We have just found a Lebanese restaurant in Alhaurin de la Torre called Beirut. It’s been there for ages and I don’t know why we haven’t been before because it has a huge amount of vegetarian dishes to choose from. We popped in for lunch on the way to the Viveros Guzman (an amazing garden centre) and ordered a vegetarian mezze called Katastroph to share.

Each little dish that they brought out was delicious. The hummus was the creamiest and the baba ghanoush was the smokiest that I have ever had, and I’ve had a lot. This was followed by a tabouleh, which was really fresh and was mainly fresh parsley (not a lot of bulgur) which is a good thing. The falafel were light and flavourful. All too often falafel can be heavy, dense and bland. Not these, there was an ingredient in there that I couldn’t recognise but was really familiar, something like fennel seeds, but not. All this was served with a really soft, light arab bread.

Then they brought out the thing that was, for me, the highlight. Sambusik (or sambousek) are little mini pasties, like samosas, but smaller. They seemed to be made out of the same dough as the bread and were stuffed with feta and onion or spinach and lemon. TO. DIE. FOR. Especially the feta and onion, like a mini cheese and onion pasty but softer. By the way I am not getting paid for this review, nor do they know that I am writing it. It is just something I had to share.

I researched it and found this recipe for the dough. It is not as soft and bread-like as theirs but it is really easy to work with, I added some fennel seeds to the dough for extra flavour too.

The fig chutney and feta combination was just born out of the fact that I have so much fig chutney and wanted to use it. It’s spicy sweetness contrasts really well with the salty, creamy feta. It would make a fabulous tart filling too. Just spread some on a puff pastry circle and crumble over the feta, cook at 220 C for about 15-20 minutes until puffed and golden and sprinkle over some fresh parsley to serve.

You could also use fresh figs as the base if you don’t want to bother making the chutney.

Those were the step by step pictures, in case you were wondering. This is the finished product.

I decided to make my own harissa sauce to go with this because, as you know, I have a mountain of chillis and it may be the only chilli sauce I haven’t made yet!

This sauce is hot so I mixed it with some greek yoghurt to serve with the sambousek.

Fig & Feta Sambousek with Homemade Harissa Sauce

For the harissa sauce:

Makes about 250 ml, vegan, gluten-free. Adapted from Taste Food

  • 1 tsp cumin seeds
  • 1 tsp coriander seeds
  • 1/2 tsp caraway seeds
  • 1 tin/jar (200 gr) roasted red peppers, and any juice (I used piquillo peppers), roughly chopped
  • 3 red chillies, stemmed and finely chopped with seeds
  • 3 large cloves garlic, finely minced
  • 2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil (or more)
  • 2 tbsp tomato puree (tomate frito)
  • 1 tsp salt 1/2 tsp black pepper
  • a handful of fresh parsley, chopped

Toast the seeds in a dry pan until fragrant, but do not burn. Transfer to a mortar and pestle and grid to a fine powder.

Put the peppers, chillis, garlic, ground seeds, tomato puree, olive oil and parsley in a food processor and blend until smooth, adding more oil or tomato puree, if necessary, to get the desired consistency. Season with the salt & black pepper and taste (a tiny amount). You may want to add more salt or a pinch of sugar. Pour into a sterilised bottle/jar, seal and keep in the fridge until needed.

For the Fig & Feta Sambousek:

Makes about 16 small pastries, vegetarian

  • 225 gr (1 1/2 cups) flour (I use Atta wholemeal), plus extra for dusting
  • 4 tbsp olive oil
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp fennel or cumin seeds
  • 110 ml (1/2 cup) warm, not hot water
  • fig chutney, see my recipe here
  • 100-150 gr greek feta, cut into small cubes
  • fresh parsley leaves
  • sumac (optional)
  • olive oil for brushing
  • harissa sauce (see above)
  • greek yoghurt

Sieve the flour and salt into a large bowl, then stir in the seeds. Add the olive oil, stir it around then make a well in the middle and pour in the tepid water. Fold the flour into the water, turning the bowl as you go until it forms a sticky dough.

Flour the work surface and knead the dough until it is smooth and no longer sticky about 2 minutes. Wrap in cling film and put in the fridge for at least an hour.

Flour your work surface and rolling-pin and roll out the dough to about 3mm thick. Cut out small circles (I used a water-glass) about 3 inches diameter. Lift the excess pastry away from the circles, re-roll it and cut out more circles, you should get about 16 in total.

Spread the circles on your work surface and put a teaspoon of fig chutney in the centre of each one. Top this with a small cube of feta, a parsley leaf and a small pinch of sumac.

Lift up two opposite edges and seal them around the filling. Seal the two other ends, pinching them together to create a four-cornered sambousek (see pictures above). They can be refrigerated at this point.

Preheat oven to 180 C and line a baking tray with baking paper. Brush the baking paper with olive oil and place the sambousek on the tray, you may need two trays. Brush them with olive oil and bake for 20-25 minutes until golden.

Mix some harissa paste and greek yoghurt together, tasting until you get the right balance for you. Top with some fresh parsley leaves.

Serve the hot/warm sambousek with the harissa yoghurt sauce and sprinkle over some more fresh parsley.

Chocolate, Fig, Almond and Rosewater “Brownies”

16 Jun

There are roses everywhere here at the moment. I am slightly obsessed and take photos every day as you may have noticed. I love all the different colours. I run past these roses most mornings with the dog. There is one particular garden that has loads of different varieties and the lady of the house takes great care of them. She must be so proud, they are all beautiful.

So all these roses made me start thinking about making something with rosewater. Just to celebrate the rose and so I would have an excuse to show a you all the pictures I have been taking.

Following on from the success of my Date, Walnut & Coconut Energy ” Truffles”, I wanted to make something similar using figs instead of dates. There are fig trees where we run too, the figs are not quite ripe yet but it it got me thinking about fig and rosewater together, a classic Arabian combination.

Rosewater is the flavouring in Turkish Delight. When I was little there was a chocolate bar called Fry’s Turkish Delight. It may still be out there, I don’t know. It had a very exotic advert and a bright pink metallic wrapper. Inside, the rose coloured Turkish Delight was coated in chocolate. At the time it seemed very mysterious and grown-up probably because my dad used to eat it all and not give me any (only joking dad)!

So I definitely wanted to use chocolate with the figs and rosewater.  I found a recipe for chocolate, cashew & almond energy bars  that I adapted to suit my requirements,very successfully indeed.

I am positive that my dad (my biggest fan) will approve. In fact I know he will be making them as soon as he can. The date, walnut and coconut energy truffles are now the “petit fours” of choice on all the best dining tables in Cape Town thanks to my dad. He has little production line going. People are requesting them.

I have to say that, in his version, rather than soaking the dates in water for an hour he soaks them in Frangelico or Amaretto. That could definitely be part of the reason for their popularity, it sounds amazing. So feel free to do that with the figs in this recipe too. I know of two food bloggers who will approve wholeheartedly of this little  “twist”. (Rufus & Caroline!)

These “brownies” are in fact, raw, vegan, gluten-free, refined sugar-free and totally delicious. Please don’t be suspicious of their virtue. They have all the chewy, stickiness of a brownie with none of the bad things. Never has healthy tasted so naughty. Dad, I think you’re going to need a bigger kitchen…!

Chocolate, Fig, Almond & Rosewater “Brownies”

makes about 16. Adapted from Sea Salt With Food

  • 300 gr (2 cups) dried figs, soaked in water (or Frangelico/Amaretto) for an hour
  • 250gr (2 cups) almonds (no skin), roughly chopped
  • 60 gr (1/2 cup) hazelnuts, roughly chopped
  • 75 gr (3/4 cup) pure unsweetened cocoa powder
  • a pinch of salt
  • 40 gr (1/2 cup) dessicated coconut
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 4-6 tbsp rose water 
  • cold water

Remove the figs from the soaking liquid after about an hour and put them in a food processor with the roughly chopped nuts, cocoa powder and a pinch of salt.

Process until it starts to come together then add the coconut, process again then add the vanilla extract and the rose water a tablespoon at a time. The amount of rosewater you add depends on how strong the flavour is so taste as you go and stop when you are happy with the flavour.If you need to add more liquid to get it to a sticky mouldable dough consistency add a tablespoon of water at a time.

Line a brownie pan or baking tin with baking paper and tip the dough mix in and press it out evenly with a rubber spatula. Put another piece of baking paper on top and use a book or ice cream tub to press it down and make it flat. I made mine about 1 cm thick but you can make them thicker if you like.

Put in the fridge for about an hour before cutting into about 16 pieces. Store in an airtight container in the fridge layered with baking paper.

Serve some after dinner with coffee as elegant petit fours or take them to work as an afternoon snack bar. Or do like my dad and take them as a gift for the host of a dinner party. They also keep really well in the fridge. If they should last that long…

Buen Provecho!

Orange Blossom and Almond Soft Oat Cookies

16 Apr

 It’s all about the orange blossom here at the moment. As soon as you walk out of the front door the smell hits you. An exotic floral fragrance that is just synonymous with spring in Andalucia.

These pretty little innocent white flowers give of such a powerful scent. We went for lunch last Sunday at Santiago’s restaurant. To be sat in the beautiful garden surrounded by orange trees and the delicious perfume of the blossom is a real treat. In fact every time the wind blew we were treated to a gentle rain of orange blossom petals. “Una lluvia de flor de azahar” to quote Mery the waitress….

I have to admit that I did have a few spoonfuls of a dessert on Sunday, I couldn’t resist. It was a frozen mango margarita cheesecake I think. Whatever it was, it was delicious. I am doing really well with the detox but I do crave something sweet occasionally. I’ve been wanting to make an oaty biscuit/cookie without flour, butter or added sugar. It’s quite a challenge but I think I’ve cracked it with these. The sweetness comes from some Orange Blossom honey that I bought from a local producer. I used ground almonds instead of flour because I love the flavour and moistness it gives to the biscuit and also because we are surrounded by almond trees.


Orange blossom & almond is a classic combination used in a lot of Middle Eastern desserts and pastries. The orange blossom water I used to flavour the biscuits has an unusual, exotic floral taste that is unlike anything else. It perfectly compliments the almonds, dried apricots and dates that I added to follow on with Moorish theme. Pistachios & rosewater would be lovely too if you can’t get orange blossom water.

The other new ingredient I used instead of butter or milk was Crema de Almendras (Almond cream). I’m not sure if it is called almond cream in English or whether it is almond paste/butter. As you can see from the image below it is a thick creamy almond paste. I bought the diabetic version which is sugar-free but is made with fructose so it is sweet.

The result is a soft, chewy almondy biscuit with a background of orange blossom. Delicious, and great for a healthy snack when you need something sweet.

Orange Blossom & Almond Soft Oat Cookies

makes about 20, vegan, gluten-free

  • 150 gr (2 cups) rolled oats
  • the juice of half an orange
  • 3 tsp orange flower water
  • 120 gr (1/3 cup) orange blossom (or whatever) honey (oil the measure first so that the honey slips out easily)
  • 25 gr (1/3 cup) flaked almonds
  • 175 gr (2/3 cup)crema de almendras (sugar-free almond paste)
  • a few drops of almond extract
  • 1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 tsp bicarb soda (or baking soda)
  • 8 dates, stoned and chopped
  • 8 dried apricots, chopped
  • 25 gr (1/4 cup)ground almonds
  • a pinch of salt

Preheat the oven to 190 C. Soak the oats in the orange juice and orange blossom water while you prepare the other ingredients. Mix everything together in a large bowl until well combined.

Line a baking sheet (or 2) with baking paper and drop heaped teaspoons of the mixture on the tray(s). You will need two trays or to do it twice. You should have 9 – 12 on each tray. Bake in the preheated oven for 12 – 15 minutes until golden brown. Cool on a wire rack if you can wait that long….

Serve under an orange tree or next to some flowers with a pot of mint tea for the full Moorish taste explosion……

Moment of Gratitude or “Things that made me smile today…”

Our Hydrangeas, aren’t they gorgeous…

Our Aloe Vera plants flowering and the shadows on the wall…

Stunning!!

Lavender, Lemon and Honey Soft Oat Bars

9 Mar

We have a beautiful lavender on our roof terrace. I sometimes pick some to use as table settings. I wrap 3 or 4 stems with natural garden raffia and put it on a white serviette.

I store these in a draw with the serviettes so they always smell nice. After a while they do dry out, which isn’t a problem, but it got me thinking about cooking with lavender. When we had the restaurant we had a lamb dish on the menu with Lavender, Honey and Garlic. It always sold really well for an unusual dish.

I saw a recipe for Lavender and Lemon Pound Cake on Kitchen Operas which caught my eye. It looked beautiful and I have a huge bowl of lemons on my kitchen table. This was definitely the direction I wanted to go in but I didn’t feel like making a cake. The Washer Up likes to take sweet things to work to share with the others so when I saw a recipe for Honey Lavender Oatmeal Squares at The Bee & the Fruit in the Kitchen I decided to combine the lemon into that recipe and see how it turned out.

Lavender, Lemon & Honey Oat Bars

makes 9 – 12 mini bars/squares, vegetarian, sugar-free. Adapted from The Bee & The Fruit in the Kitchen & Tartelette

  • 75 gr wholemeal flour
  • 60 gr rolled oats
  • 50 gr almonds, chopped
  • 1 tsp dried lavender buds (make sure they are untreated)
  • 1 tbsp flax seeds (optional)
  • 1 egg
  • 55ml greek yogurt
  • 115 gr honey
  • the zest of 1 lemon (washed)
  • 1 tsp lemon juice
  • a few drops of almond extract (or 1 tsp vanilla extract)

Preheat oven to 180C and line a small baking tin with baking paper. Mix all the dry ingredients together in a large bowl. Whisk the wet ingredients together in a jug and pour into the dry ingredients. Mix together well with a wooden spoon. Tip the mixture into the lined baking tin and pat it down so it is even. Bake for 10 – 12 minutes until lightly golden and leave to cool on a wire rack before cutting into 9 or 12 mini bars.

As you can see there is no butter or sugar in this recipe. The sweetness comes from the honey which makes this a healthy, not overly sweet, treat. The lemon & lavender work really well together as a flavour and aroma combination making these perfect for a grab & go breakfast or a mid afternoon pick me up snack.


The Washer Up said he prefers his snacks with sugar in but the other guys weren’t complaining. It’s funny to think of a group of builders snacking on healthy Lavender & Lemon Oat Bars with their afternoon cup of tea………….

These oat bars are featured in a sweet treats round up hosted by Lisa at Sweet as Sugar Cookies. Just click on the Sweets for a Saturday badge above and have a look around at some of the most delicious sweet things posted this week.

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