{Recipe} Healthy Berry Muffin Bars (Cane Sugar Free, Dairy Free)

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Yesterday I had a punnet of blueberries in the fridge that weren’t being eaten, some strawberries approaching the end of their days, and 2 year old having an uncharacteristically early nap.  Basically the stars had aligned for me to get my baking experiment hat on.

I like play around with recipes to make them a bit healthier without losing yumness.  Cos healthy is good, especially with a fussy toddler, but if you ain’t got yumness, there ain’t much point, in my book.

I’m rather pleased with how this one turned out!  You can make it in a normal muffin tin but I thought a muffin bar/slice was just a bit different and fun.  I based it on this blueberry muffin recipe.

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The muffin is not over sweet and I really like how the subtlety of the flavour allows the berries to shine.  You could definitely play around with using different fruits in this one – let me know if you come up with a yummy variation!

My version is cane sugar free and dairy free, but you can adapt to taste and preference.  Although I have to say, it’s pretty darn yummy as it is!

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Ingredients

1 3/4 cups flour (I used organic white flour, I may try wholemeal next time)
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 cup almond milk (or milk of choice)
1/4 cup vegetable oil
1 egg
1/3 cup organic pure maple syrup (or 1/2 cup cane sugar if you prefer)
1/2 tsp Heilala vanilla paste (or 1 tsp vanilla extract)
1 small punnet of blueberries (around 1-1 1/2 cups)
3-4 medium/large strawberries, chopped

Method

1. Pre-heat oven to 200 degrees Celsius.
2. In a medium bowl, combine flour, baking powder, salt and cinnamon.
3. In a large bowl, combine milk, oil, egg, maple syrup and vanilla.
4. Stir in flour mixture until just combined.  Do not overmix.
5. Fold in blueberries and strawberries.
6. Pour into greased or lined slice tray (or muffin tray).  Cook until lightly golden and an inserted skewer or knife comes out clean.  In my oven this was about 30 minutes but it will depend on the tray you use and my oven can be a bit slow, so just keep an eye on it.

Easy and yum!  Let me know if you try it!

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Chocolate Chunk and Chickpea Biscuits

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I found this rather interesting recipe on the Stay at Home Mum website (see original here) and had to give it a go.  Chickpeas are wonderfully nourishing and I love trying to find ways to make treats healthy.  I adapted the recipe slightly and I think it would be easy to play around with your own ideas.

I had mixed reviews from these biscuits.  One mum asked me for the recipe while a little boy told me they were “yucky”.  Hehe!  Personally I like them, they taste healthy in a really satisfying way with just the right amount of chocolate sweetness.

 

Ingredients

1 cup firmly packed brown sugar (I used coconut sugar, a more nutritious alternative)

3/4 cup butter

2 large egg whites

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

1 can (420g) chickpeas, drained and rinsed

2 cups choc chips (I used one chopped up packet of Green & Blacks Organic Milk Chocolate and 1/2 cup raw cacao nibs)

3/4 cup chopped walnuts (optional)

3/4 cup raisins or sultanas

2 cups wholemeal Self Raising flour

1/2 cup oats

1 teaspoon bicarb soda

1/4 teaspoon salt

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Method

Cream butter and sugar.  Process chickpeas, vanilla and egg whites in a food processor until smooth then add to the butter and sugar.  Add the rest of the ingredients and mix to form a thick dough.

Form into biscuits and place on baking tray.  I just used my hands.

Bake at 180 C for 11-13 minutes or until golden – they will still seem soft when you get them out but trust me, this makes for the perfect soft texture.

 

Would love to hear what you think if you try them out!

 

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Baby/Toddler Recipe: Oaty Cereal Bars

A little while ago I came across the fabulous One Handed Cooks blog, full of recipes perfect for little fingers and busy mums.  One of the first recipes I tried for my little spoon feeding boycotter was the Chew-me Oat Fruit Bars.  As soon as they were out of the oven, she devoured three big fingers of it straight away!  They have been a big hit and I have made them a ton of times since – in fact, I like to pretty much always have them to hand, they have become a staple.  They are so quick to throw together and are great for afternoon snacks or even a hand-held breakfast.  I also love that it is a way to get oats into her, with all their folate containing goodness.

Bubba has always preferred finger food, but she has been pretty much refusing spoon feeding altogether lately.  So I decided to come up with a way to get the iron-enriched baby cereal into her and this recipe seemed the perfect vehicle.  So this is my adaptation of the recipe, with a few other tweaks based on what I have in the cupboard and my general laziness (I hate grating things, hence no grated apple as per the original recipe!).  The original recipe is also wonderful as is!

Ingredients:

1 cup rolled oats
1/2 cup iron enriched baby cereal (Farex or the like – I use Rafferty’s Garden)
1/2 cup wholemeal flour
3/4 cup dried fruit (I use whole sultanas, or a mix of sultanas and chopped dried apricots)
1 overripe banana
2 tbsp bran (I put this in for fibrous, poo-promoting goodness)
1 tsp cinnamon
1 1/4 cup milk
1 egg

Method:

1. Preheat oven to 180 degrees Celsius.

2. Put all ingredients in a bowl and mash/mix with a fork until combined.  Seriously, just chuck it all in at once.  I don’t even beat the egg first.

3. Pour into (baking paper lined) slice tin and cook until firm to touch – in my oven, this is about 30 minutes.

4. Cool and cut into fingers.

Not only is this recipe quick and easy, it’s very forgiving and fun to  play around with.  If you’d prefer them without the baby cereal, just substitute in an extra 1/2 cup of rolled oats, as per the original recipe.  I’m thinking of trying it with blueberries or raspberries in place of the dried fruit – yum!

Let me know if you try this recipe – or come up with any of your own variations!

Baking Tips: A Few Eggs Short Of A Sixpack?

If you’re like me, then you have started on a recipe, got to the wet ingredients, and then upon pulling the egg carton out of the fridge, realised that you’re an egg or two short.  Or rather, I should say, if you have a partner who likes eggs for breakfast like I do.  Hurumph.

Anyway, if it happens to you, you don’t have to abandon your baking!

The most successful substitute I have found for an egg or two in baking is actually… mayonnaise!

Simply add 3 tablespoons of mayonnaise for each egg the recipe calls for.

I usually use this when I do have some eggs, but am missing one or two.  I have used it with great success, and you would never know the difference in the end result.

I have also heard of using applesauce in place of eggs, but I haven’t tried it myself.  If you have had success with any egg substitutes in baking, I would love to hear about it!