I have been running this blog for just over five years at this point, yet I feel like I still have really no particular structure for how and when to put out content in a more organised and orderly fashion… Maybe it is because this space doesn’t earn me any money directly. Indirectly sure, because it serves as part of my marketing strategy and is a continuation of putting my message and my voice out there.
Maybe my blogging often feels so hap-hazard because I don’t tend to have a longterm schedule of what to write when but much rather prefer to let my inspiration and creativity guide me… Then there’s of course finding the time to cook, test, style and edit photographs and recipes. And life gets in the way sometimes. Paid gig takes preference. Rest becomes important. Normal stuff. Life in general.
It’s been ages since I planned, cooked and styled some new recipes. I feel like I’ve been floundering about a bit over these past few weeks since the start of the year. Perhaps this is not entirely true but my blogging has definitely been an afterthought.
The recipe I am sharing with you here, is one that I adapted from one of my all-time favourite food writers and cooks, Emma Galloway. I simply cannot tell you how much I love her work and both of her cookbooks, My Darling Lemon Thyme and A Year In My Wholefood Kitchen is my all-time favourite books and the ones I use the most, if I want to follow a recipe.
During my late teenage years I used to use baking as a stress reliever. I used to take a night of from studying and then try a new recipe for a cake or some cookies from the classic Swedish book “ Sju Sorters Kakor” (“Seven Types Of Cakes”).
I don’t what it is about baking that feels like such a stress reliever. Sure you will hopefully get something nice and tasty at the end of it, but that’s not necessarily the main point when you bake with the intention of stress relief. It can be this opportunity to be present with the moment.
The reading of the recipe, weighing out the ingredients, mixing, observing the consistency forming, tasting (of course licking the spatula is compulsory!). Then keeping an eye on your cake or cookies or whatever it is you are baking, watching it patiently until you can see the rise and a heavenly aroma is wafting through your kitchen. And finally, when your baked cake has cooled (at least sufficiently for your mouth not to get scalded), tucking in, filling your senses with the magic that comes from mixing sugar, butter and eggs in suggested ratio and baked to perfection.
Some people say that baking is an exact science, but I am not fully convinced… Baking like anything else does allow us to learn from observation, a willingness to fail and a willingness to try. A bit like other things in life that are worth doing.
Blueberry Banana Muffins
(Slightly adapted from Emma Galloway’s original recipe)
Makes 8 small muffins
2 large bananas over-ripe, mashed
3 tbsp olive oil
2 tbsp maple syrup ( I have tried them without and then are more bread-like than cake-like then)
20g porridge oats
110g ground almonds
½ tsp baking powder
A pinch of salt
A handful of frozen blueberries
Preheat your oven to 170˚C. If you have a muffin tray line it with ten paper cases. If you don’t have a muffin tray you can place the paper cases directly on a normal flat baking tray.
Place ground almonds, porridge oats and baking powder in a large bowl and stir together.
In another bowl whisk together the mashed bananas with the two eggs, maple syrup, olive oil and a pinch of salt. Which until you have a smooth mixture.
Add the mixed dry ingredients to your wet mixture, mixing well. Add the frozen blue berries and give another stir to make sure they are evenly distributed.
Spoon the muffin mixture into the paper cases and fill about 2/3 up.
Place the tray in the preheated oven and bake for approx. 35 min or until a skewer inserted in the middle comes out clean. They should have risen and golden looking.
Remove from the oven and let cool a few minutes before transferring them to a wire rack to cool completely. I know it is really challenging to wait, but unless you want to consume the paper as part of your muffin, I strongly recommend holding off until they have cooled completely. Then the paper case comes off a lot easier!
These muffins, since they are flour free are very moist. They store well for a few days in the fridge and they freeze well too. Great portable snacks or as a quick breakfast option.
As I am striving to simplify my life with less stuff, I also feel a draw to create recipes that reflects that. Amid the current hype of “50-fancy-ingredient-lattes”, what I want is something tasty and comforting made from just a few store cupboard ingredients.
Maybe it is my shift towards digging deeper into the social justice side of health, or it is a subconscious longing for my Swedish roots. Or maybe it is having a somewhat constrained food budget… I don’t know. What I do know is that there are some real delights to be had, by the skill of being able to turn just a few simple ingredients into something yummy, especially when the weather has you all down.
These cookies, or biscuits where something I made several times this past winter. It was like my body craved something energy dense in order to cope with the long cold wet days. But maybe it was just my tastebuds calling out for something with the combination of fat and sugar. Either way, these basic oat cookies hit the spot every time!
The initial obsession with this particular ingredient combination started off when I spotted a flapjack recipe on Instagram. Over the course of my trial and errors developing this recipe, I learned that the ratios of sugar/oats/butter/honey will affect the texture and quality of your end product. More butter – Less oats will give you a crispier kind of cookie. Increasing the ratio of oats and you’ll end up with more of a flapjack, chewy kind of bar.
To be honest, what I was aiming for was something like the Swedish oat cookies called ‘Havreflarn’, which is a crispy candied type of cookie. The thing is, the recipe for Havreflarn uses wheat flour also and I wanted to try and recreate something without it. You know how it goes though… Baking, apparently, is an exact science so if you go changing any one component, you most likely will not end up with what was the intended outcome of the original recipe. Never the less though, it can be equally tasty and satisfying! Which which I am, self proclaiming about this recipe experiment that I am sharing with you here.
So let’s get to it! This is NOT a dairy free, sugar free kind of cookie. This is an all in treat made with a few things you can buy in your corner shop, or small country village shop to whip up in no time when you need something to go with that comforting cup of tea / coffee / hot chocolate. Those days when we need something to light up a dreary cold day (and when you live in Ireland those are part of every season…)
Basic Oat Cookies
Makes about 12
75g butter ( I use salted)
45g dark muscovado sugar (but any type will do. I just like the flavour of muscovado sugar more)
50g porridge oats
25g oat flour (porridge oats milled in your blender)
1 tbsp milk of choice (dairy or non dairy is fine)
1 tbsp of runny honey (get the best quality you can find and afford)
1/4 tsp baking powder
This recipe is super handy because you can mix all the ingredient directly into the saucepan that you use to melt the butter. Less washing up that way!
Heat the oven to 185°C and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
In a medium sized saucepan, melt the butter. Once the butter has melted remove from the heat and add the rest of the ingredients and stir until you have an even mix of deliciously tasting butter, sugar, honey and oats. (Don’t eat it all this way though, I know it is tempting!)
Using two spoon, spoon a dollop of cookie mixture on to the lined baking sheet. If you want them a bit neater looking than mine then shape them up a bit. Leave some space between each dollop as you don’t want your cookies flowing into each other.
Bake for about 7 min until golden and a little brown around the edges. Let the cookies cool on a rack before tucking in. They will firm up a little as they cool.
Store in an airtight container. Will probably keep for a few days. (Mine never lasts long enough to go off.)
I think it was about time I shared another sweet recipe here on the blog again. And if you read my last post, about my own personal history with food (sugar in particular) and how I made eventually made peace with it all, then you will know that I love the taste of sweet.
Dates are such a versatile food. They are sweet and sticky and actually good for you with a high amount of fibre, but also the vitamin and mineral content like zinc (for immune system) magnesium (for energy production), iron (for red blood cells) and potassium (for nervous system).
Because of their “stickability” they work really well in all types of raw desserts as they so seamlessly hold everything together. I also love that when we are using dates as sweeteners we tend to use the whole fruit, just like nature intended.
This recipe is based on a typical traditional Swedish recipe and one we made time and time again as kids – Choklad Bollar.
The original recipe calls for butter, sugar, oats and cacao powder. And perhaps a little coffee too.
Here I have replaced the butter and sugar with the dates and added some melted cacao butter as fat. You can use coconut oil too.
Traditionally “Choklad Bollar are rolled in desiccated coconut, which I personally like though I made another version of these for a recent talk I did locally and rolled them in some melted dark chocolate and some roughly chopped toasted hazelnuts. Much like a giant Ferro Roche… Yeah, just imagine! Totally worth the extra effort.
Chocolate Oat & Date Balls
Makes about 10 medium sized balls
½ cup rolled (porridge) oats
20 small pitted dates – or use about 10 soft Medjool dates
2 tbsp raw cacao powder
6 tbsp strong coffee – or use same amount of water
2 tbsp melted cacao butter – or coconut oil
Shredded coconut to coat the balls in
First blend the oats in your food processor until you have a rough ground texture. Soak the dates in some hot water for about 1 min, then drain. Just to soften them a little. If you are using Medjool dates you can skip this step as they tend to be much softer. However don’t forget to remove the pits!
Add the rest of the ingredients to your food processor and blend until it all comes together like a sof dough.
Roll the dough into small balls with your hands and roll them in some shredded coconut.
Store in an airtight container in the fridge. They will keep for a few days.
(I’m always musing to myself about the difference between the words “keep” and “last”. To be honest, I am actually just guessing how long they will “keep” for, since I’ve never had any “last” long enough to see when they would be gone off…)
It’s that time of the year again, when you get to indulge in making and giving, without anyone questioning it. Actually it seems much expected that you do so.
In this time of “shoulds”, “musts” and “have-tos”, a midst overwhelm and busyness perhaps a desire to slow down and take time, doing what really matters instead, is what we are truly looking for?
OK… So I do realise that it’s not everyone sees the kitchen as their creative playground (though this is surely all about perspective?!) but for those of us who do like to play in the kitchen, making sweet or savoury treats, bakes or dishes that can double up as gifts is a win-win!
And why not make a play date, not just for you and the kitchen, but invite a friend or two to come along too. The experience of cooking and eating is often elevated (in my experience) by sharing, so have fun.
These raw chocolates are really quick and easy to make and only require five ingredients. You’ll have them whipped up in no time.
Mint, chocolate and coconut is a classic combination, so if you know that you already like this combo, you will not be disappointed!
Raw Mint-Coconut Chocolate
Makes 14 hearts
100g creamed coconut ( ½ packaged)
6-8 drops of mint extract
40g cacao butter
4 tbsp raw cacao powder
2 tbsp maple syrup
Roughly chop the creamed coconut and melt it on low heat in a small saucepan. Creamed coconut is available in most healthfood shops and also in Asian grocery stores. It is dehydrated fresh meat of mature coconuts and solid at room temperature.
Once the coconut is melted add the mint extract and then give it a good stir to make sure it is dispensed evenly. Add the melted coconut mix to the molds. Try to fill each mold to about ½. Place in the fridge to set, while you proceed to make the raw chocolate.
Melt the cacao butter in a heat proof bowl on top of a saucepan with simmering water. Once the cacao butter has fully melted, add the cacao powder and then mix until you have a smooth blend. And the maple syrup and mix again until your chocolate mix is again lovely and smooth.
Remove your mold tray from the fridge and spoon the chocolate mix on top of the coconut mix. Place the tray back in the fridge and let the chocolate set. This will take a few hours.
Once your chocolate has hardened, pop them out of the moulds and place in an airtight container in the fridge until you want to serve them. Or gift them!
***I use silicone ice cube molds to make these and it makes the process very easy. You can use any shapes you like of course and if you don’t have a mold, then you can try simply pouring the coconut layer out first on a lined tray and once set, add the raw chocolate layer. I haven’t actually tried that technique with this particular recipe, but I don’t see why it wouldn’t work.
If you want some more ideas of edible sweet gifts here are a few ideas from the archives:
Date Truffles Three Ways
Fruit and Nut Truffle Cake
And here are a few other ones that I really would like to try out myself, from some of my favourite bloggers:
Maple Butter Roasted Nuts
Cardamom & Rosewater Caramels
Raw Apricot, Dark Chocolate Coconut Bites
Let the purple theme continue! And the smoothie one too, of course. Purple is my favourite colour. So of course it made total sense to create a smoothie that was purple. It seems like late summer / early autumn is the natural season for purple foods.
In the past few weeks I’ve foraged some wild blueberries / bilberries as well as blackberries from the hedgerows out the back of where I live. On my last few walks I’ve also spied some lovely damsons and lots of elderberries. If the weekend allows I think I will go ahead and make some of this, which will make a nice one to keep any colds and flues at bay as the weather shifts. This transitional time of the year is one when I’m most likely to get sick, so it may just be a good idea to stay on top of it!
You know, the idea for this smoothie came initially from creating something “hidden”. Not everybody enjoy drinking the colour green. So what I did was put a few green leaves with something that would blend them into another colour. I’ve mentioned before that blending red and green is usually not a brilliant idea. You might get away with a few leaves of spinach with beetroot as it is so bright, but if you’ve ever tried spinach and strawberries… you know what I am talking about.
In this smoothie it is the blackberries that are providing most of the purple colour, but the blueberries bring equal beauty in form of taste, colour and nutrients. And if you have some blackcurrants throw them into the mix too! All these berries are a great source of vitamin C which is a major contributor to a healthy immune system.
Purple Smoothie with Hidden Greens
1/2 cup of blackberries – fresh or frozen
1/2 cup blueberries – fresh or frozen
a handful of green leaves like kale (stems removed) or spinach
1/2 small avocado
Juice of 1/2 lime
1 tbsp pea / hemp / rice protein
1/2 tsp ground caramom – optional, but delicious!
250 ml coconut water or plant milk of choice
Place all the ingredients in your blender and blend until smooth.
Serve with your favourite toppings.
Feast your eyes on the purple delight.
And feel the nourishment spreading throughout your body!