Happy Easter Everyone! I’m so relieved and happy that spring is finally here. Time to crawl out of hibernation, laze in the sunshine (when it arrives), choose to eat meals in tune with the new season and do more – be it exercise or socialising (both are good) and hopefully feel as fresh as a daffodil 😉
First up – apologies for having disappeared over the winter too. I’ve felt quite frustrated about not having the time to keep up my blogging, but I had to put my exams first. You could also say I’ve been on a learning sabbatical and now I’m ready to share more knowledge and insight.
A lot of things have been happening, one being the start of my first cooking club for juniors and infants at a primary school in Brixton. And it’s been really fun, inspiring and surprising to learn how open-minded children are to vegetables and healthy ingredients. They will try anything if you sell it right (I always tell them it’s delicious) and they also have a burning desire to make smoothies just as much as they do cupcakes. We’ve also made courgetti, carrot & flaxseed crackers, flapjacks, pea & parsley frittas, these granola bars, brownies and chewy cookies for balance and morale – they are 5-11 years old after all.
I chose these granola bars because they are healthy enough to be eaten for breakfast but also make a great snack at anytime. Full of protein, good fats, fibre and natural sugars. I actually tried Deliciously Ella’s recipe first, but after a few complaints from my cooking club that they weren’t sweet enough, decided to make a few changes to boost the taste without compromising on healthy goodness. Ella’s had pumpkin seeds, which I love in smoothies, but can be too bitter in these. And what’s the point if it puts you off eating the rest? I also took out the flaxseed, even though this fitted well, so I’ll leave this up to you. I also added a chocolate coating, which is optional of course, again I wanted to see how I could make them an appealing choice over cake, rather than a second best. Going gluten free is hard and I want to make it as easy and enjoyable as possible. It’s a horrible feeling to be in a social situation and having to eat something second rate to everyone else. I believe gluten-free options can be the better option even taste-wise. The trick is to re-set your taste buds and understand what happens inside the body when you eat gluten-containing foods – a subject I am also planning to do a talk on in the autumn!
What’s interesting is that I have been learning about gluteomorphin and casomorphins and this explains why we bite into white bread with great pleasure and have the well-known cheese addiction. These foods are addictive! It’s not necessarily because they taste better and I’ve found on returning to the foods (after an elimination diet) I’ve lost my taste for them. They cause an opiate reaction in the brain when they trespass the blood / brain barrier and have been likened to drugs such as LSD. They can be very sedating and addictive and help to explain why 75% of the calories in the standard American diet (S.A.D.) come from wheat and dairy alone. Food addiction is a very real thing and these opiods play a huge role. There are no healthy addictions and food is no exception. If an individual feels that they cannot give up cheese or bread, then they are very likely to be having a problem with one of these foods. Realising my previous dependency has helped me see that those very foods are a major contributor to my IBS and early stages of a thyroid dysfunction. They also play a role in autism, fibromyalgia, neuropathy, arthritis, depression, chronic fatigue and these pathologies are typical signs associated with food intolerances.
A bit off track, although I fully intend to dedicate a full blog post on the subject of gluten and auto-immune diseases, as it’s something I’ve been researching quite a lot recently and the findings are pretty alarming!
So without further a do, here’s the recipe:
350g chopped dates +4 chopped figs
175g sunflower seeds
240g gluten-free oats
100g dessicated coconut (or you could use flaxseed)
100g pecans (or any chopped nut / seed you prefer)
3 tbs chia seeds
2 tbs raw cacao
3 tbs ground cinnamon
Drizzle maple syrup (no more than 1 tbs)
Coconut oil for greasing
- Preheat the oven to 180 degrees
- Place the chopped dates and figs in a saucepan and add 600 ml of water – boil them gently and simmer for 15 mins (until they are really soft and create a syrup to bind the ingredients).
- While the dates cook, place the sunflower seeds, oats, cacao, coconut, pecans and raisins in a large mixing bowl.
- Once the dates have cooked, place them and the remaining ingredients (cinnamon, chia and maple syrup) over the oats and seed mix and stir thoroughly until everything is coated and sticky.
- Grease a large 40 x 28cm baking tray with coconut oil, then pour in the granola and press it down firmly so that it is tightly packed and smooth on the top.
- Bake for 20 – 30 mins until the top turns golden brown.
- Remove and cut into bars or squares
N.B while I am diary free, I personally find that I can digest dark chocolate fine. So if you’d like to coat in chocolate, simply melt at least 100 – 200g of dark chocolate in a glass bowl over a saucepan of boiling water. When this has melted, spread it over the bars immediately and leave to cool. I put them in an airtight container in the fridge to harden quickly.
Let me know how yours came out in the comments below. And tag images with #feelingpeachy on social media, I’d love to see how they came out!