Chocolate Bites

Chocolatebites

I’m not doing super well at heating healthily but I’m trying and I’m getting some other things done so I’m cutting myself some slack.

But if super yummy snacks are this easy every time I might be about to do a lot better at healthy eating without too much trouble!

There are so many recipes for these kinds of no-cook easy to eat naturally sweet bites.

Mine are made with:

1 Cup Oats

3 Tablespoons cocoa powder

1 teaspoon vanilla

1 teaspoon honey

8 dates

and a little water.

The dry ingredients go in the blender or food processor until they’re flour consistency.

Then the vanilla dates and honey are added and the food processor switched on again.

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As the mixture begins to come together a little water can be added so that it sticks together (but isn’t sticky).

The mixture is made into small bite size balls and then goes in the fridge to set.

The only problem with these is they are all gone already because they are too yummy.

 

 

 

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Moments

Prioritising has never been a strong point for me I’m good at getting bored easily and forgetting what I was supposed to be doing. I may have mentioned before I need lists. This is never more true than on weeks like this one when my youngest started full time school and suddenly I was already busy every day of the week. I’m trying to take things slow and appreciate the small moments so that all of the things that need to be done don’t become overwhelming.

I’ve been continuing to think about how we need to teach ourselves and our children to cultivate positive mental health and good practices and habits to help prevent potential problems rather than just firefight when the problems start to get bad. This week I’m trying to slow down and remember the most important thing happening in my life is my children are growing up. To do this I’m trying to make sure I look at them and listen properly when they talk to me. To spot the times of day they are ready to open up and to focus and listen. It’s not easy especially when all three want to talk at once but just because I don’t always succeed doesn’t mean I’m giving up.

Looking for recipes for lunch box friendly cakes and biscuits made me remember a favourite from my own childhood. Mary Berry (yes always the family favourite cookbook) Melting Moments.

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I’ve made one small adjustment because I don’t buy margarine anymore, sometimes I swap for butter but this time I swapped for coconut oil.

It’s a cream fat and sugar add egg and then flour and oats type of recipe. The biscuits are shaped by hand and rolled in oats then flattened on the tray. As with all the recipes in the book pretty simple.

They’re baked at quite a low temperature and for 20 minutes which was just about perfect, the tray on the top shelf slightly more well done than the one on the middle meaning those ones were crunchier and the middle shelf ones were chewier.

The taste team took their responsibilities very seriously and rated them ‘good’ on smell, snap, crunch and chew.

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Too much fun, too many nuts

It’s that point in the holiday when parents feel like it’s been going on forever and wonder if we’ve had too much fun and kids realise there’s very little time left before school starts and they need to squeeze in as much fun as possible. Also, the moment when the dreaded feeling we have to go on the school shoe shop occurs and everyone wonders if last year’s shoes will be ok still (they never are).

In our house, we’re facing the last year of school for the first time and the first year of school for the last time. Conversations are on how to keep motivated to study when the long term gain feels far away and there are other things that are much more fun to fill your time with. Lots of reassurance that friends will be made and fun will be had is required.

Everyone wants to know what I will do once I have no more preschoolers at home. The short term answer is “have a nap”. Then after that organise a conference. But in the long term, I don’t know. If I start to think too much I have to start managing anxiety.  Which of course is wasted energy that’s not going to help with anything right now while I can’t do anything solid about it. So I’m learning (always learning) to focus on today, what I’m doing right now and stay present because when the time comes I will find the right path. For this time of parenting, I need to be focused not distracted with possible futures.

I had some pears that weren’t being eaten fast enough so I looked for something to bake with some of them and decided to try out pear and honey flapjacks.

These have sugar in as well as the honey so I thought they might be a bit more indulgent. Turns out I’m so used to low sugar flapjacks now that I found them a bit sweet but the main issue for me was they use the same amount of nuts as oats which seems to be where they fall apart (literally) and I found them too chewy. The other member of the taste team to try them so far loved all the nuts though so I guess that’s more of a taste thing.

Grating the pear was a bit of a faff but other than that it’s a pretty simple recipe.

I made the mistake of thinking they weren’t completely done at the end of the first 30 minutes and then getting a little distracted during the extra 5 minutes so they turned into an extra 10 minutes. Which is why there are a few ‘caramelised’ nuts, but overall they weren’t overdone anyway.

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Cacao -it’s a bit like chocolate

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It’s week three of the holidays. Things keeping me sort of sane through the repetition of the same argument a million times:

  1. My lovely friends who reassure me it’s just the same in their houses and provide solidarity in the trenches.
  2. The mantra my lovely mum passed down which got her through our childhood (although obviously, she can’t have needed it much as we were all angels). “It’s not me it’s them”.
  3. A lot of chocolate.

I’ve also just had a health check due to my ancient age at which I discovered I am simultaneously ‘obese’, have slightly raised (from ‘ideal’ not average) cholesterol and am at very low risk of developing heart disease. Which is good motivation to keep up with finding ways to eat more healthy food (or at least a bit less chocolate).

I think this might be the most healthy version of my flapjack recipe so far.

Melt:

50g coconut oil

4 Tbsp Honey

1 Tbsp Molasses

Add:

50g cacao powder

Remove from heat and mix in:

150g Oats

Into a lined pan sprinkle over 50g cacao nibs and bake in a preheated oven gas mark 6 for 20 minutes.

Cool and cut into squares.

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Tastes less chocolatey than previous versions but still yummy. These are probably not sweet enough for you if you’re used to eating ‘normal’ amounts of sugar but for those who have already cut down, they’re sweet enough.

Taste team accused them of having funny rubbery bits on the top!

 

It’s not really carrot cake

Been struggling to write this week. Feeling a little bit lost and not sure how to put it into words. Last week my eldest had his last ever sports day. No matter how much you enjoy all the moments you can the time when your children are small the time still goes super fast and they are big and growing up so soon.

It’s a long time really until I’ll be finished with small people as my youngest is only just starting school in September but that does mean the pre-school baby days are all gone for me and the countdown feels like it’s on as this time next year we will be waiting for the first big set of exam results and school will be over (just school, not full-time education but still -college is a whole new thing).

It’s been 19 years since I left full-time education and I still feel like I don’t really know what I want to achieve with my life, what I’m going to be when I grow up. Making three people and trying not to ruin their lives before they reach 16 is amazing as well as really hard and often frustrating but even when you stretch it out by having a big age gap it doesn’t last forever. I wouldn’t have my life any other way than revolving around these three wonderful people but I still feel the sense of panic that haven’t really got a plan for what comes next for what it means to be just me when they don’t need me so much anymore. It’s a strange job parenting, you’ve only really succeeded when you’ve made yourself redundant. It’s so hard to want to reach that point, that feeling of success while also never wanting to reach it because it feels like part of who you are is not forever. We will always be their parents and always care for them and look after them of course but it won’t be the same. So who will I be, what will my time be spent on, how will I know I’m still me.

I can’t answer these questions and letting them run round in my head is making me anxious so I know I need to fill my days and really focus on enjoying today and making the most of these moments which are not forever.

This week I’ve made more bread -it was too crusty. Also, I found the cookbook I got for my birthday, so here’s a way of having more vegetables for breakfast. Having made it I think maybe it should be renamed just carrot granola because there’s really no cake involved.

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Drying the carrot was OK much like drying the almond pulp in the previous granola recipe but there were too much of the other ingredients to mix on the tray this time.

Luckily I have such a lovely bowl I love to find reasons to use it.

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I mixed once during baking but think maybe should have mixed twice because it got a little overcooked at the edges.

 

 

 

Still, it tasted good and made a healthy breakfast so that’s what counts.

 

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Perspectives

As a family in a time of mourning, we’re trying to learn more about empathy and taking each day at a time here. I’m struggling with car troubles and the teenagers are struggling with school work maybe not all big things in the grand scheme of life but when you’re already on edge it’s harder to keep perspective. Our four-year-old is learning sometimes cheering people up with a picture you’ve coloured works and sometimes people are just sad and maybe need a hug and that’s ok.

So we are all in need of good positive energy, trying to get good food into the family is sometimes easier said than done but at least I can lead by example.

This week I’ve baked energy bars. The taste test team mostly refused to try them due to the presence of dried fruit but those who did found them delicious, hard to believe there’s no refined sugar in there!

I used the food processor to chop the nuts -my first go at roasting them in the oven, turned out ok. I chose apricots and a couple of dates as I’m quite fussy about dried fruit (maybe where my kids get it from). Whisked the eggs by hand and that was the most work, back to using the electric whisk next time!

Just remembered to take the photo before taking a bite as had been good and waited for them to cool before cutting. They taste like a cross between flapjack and cake. Super yummy.

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Simple pleasures

This week’s blog is a little late, the baking challenge is still on track it’s just the writing that’s been pushed back by illness and crazy painting lady trying to get ready for carpet fitting which is happening as we speak.

This week we’ve had a lot of struggles with our natural tendency to be perfectionists and feel down on ourselves when we do things wrong. It’s an ongoing issue for both the adults in the house although we’ve both come a long way but it’s a whole new thing to teach our teenagers about how to work hard but be gentle with yourself and not put yourself under pressure or think that you will never be good enough. It’s a real reminder that what you tell your children is not as important as who you are, they will follow your example, not your teaching. There’s not a whole lot of joy in the feeling of your child struggling to see how awesome they really are but the joy has been there so much in having friends to turn to who can say in truth it’s ok, it’s normal. Also, a good time to remind ourselves that it really is difficult being a teenager and being there for them is important even when it’s hard .

This week my commitment to bake was challenged by not finding it fun, we made carrot cupcakes midweek. It wasn’t fun, the kitchen assistant didn’t like the smell and it all got a bit stressful. The cakes were ok but not really delicious and we still have some left. Made me remember the whole point of the challenge is to do something for me, something fun. My small person loves to bake too so I fell into the trap of feeling bad if I didn’t include her. But the point of the challenge is not to exclude her but to have fun and find the joy for me as there’s already plenty of joy in her life -it’s really an inspiration how much she loves the things she loves.

The second lot of baking this week was much more fun. I did lots of prep myself and asked for help with mixing which went well. I was looking for a low sugar flapjack recipe but I didn’t have dates or bananas. So I ended up mixing it up with several recipes as ideas and making my own one.

We melted: img_20170123_190910.jpg

50g coconut oil

2 tbsp nut butter

4 tbsp honey

1tbsp brown sugar

Mixed :

1 apple -peeled and grated

250g Oats

Added the wet ingredients to the dry and mixed some more.

It was a bit stiff to mix, probably not quite the right balance of wet and dry ingredients.

We baked it for 20 minutes at gas mark 4 in our extra hot oven so probably higher or longer. Looked good and was yummy enough to be gone within 24 hours. It was a little dry so I’ve got plans to adjust the ingredients and try again soon. It’s not perfect first try but that’s ok we try again and keep working and remember we are still awesome 🙂

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