Tag Archives: nut butter

Chocolate and nut oat bars

I live in hope of finding some sort of cereal bar, that I can make, that my children will like. I think a good cereal bar is an excellent thing to be eaten when you don’t have much time, but need something that will keep you going. But so many bought cereal bars are full of crap.

Many years ago, I co-ran a parenting website called I Want My Mum (because that’s all I said when I was pregnant and not long after having my baby, “I want my mum, I want my mum!” I would lament. Luckily she wasn’t far). I posted a recipe on there for some sort of healthy cereal, chewy bar. Loads of people went crazy for it, saying that their children loved it.

Not mine. My children have never liked any sort of bar that I’ve made, but they look at the Kellogg’s Special K Raspberry and Chocolate bars with longing every time they go past them in the supermarket aisle.

So I saw these in my Dale Pinnock Healthy Every Day book. He’s the one I got the chocolate/coffee smoothie idea from. I adapted his recipe, changing the proportions and also, he said you should sandwich the chocolate/peanut butter layer in between the layers of oats. But this didn’t look great to me, and also, in a bid to entice my children, I thought it’d be better to coat the whole lot in chocolate. I even wrapped them up in little bags to make them look shop bought. Did they love them?

No.

The ungrateful bastards. But I really like them (just as well as I have about 18 of them now) and if you need a healthy but delicious, quite treaty snack, you can try these. Or, if you’re lucky, your children might like them.

65g unsalted butter

50g coconut oil

45g raw honey

1 teaspoon of vanilla extract

300g porridge oat flakes

125g 70% cocoa chocolate

80g nut butter of choice – not one that’s full of sugar but if your nut butter doesn’t have salt in it you may want to add a pinch

Melt the  butter, coconut oil and honey in a pan. Add a pinch of sea salt if your nut butter doesn’t have it. When melted, add the vanilla extract and the oats, and coat everything.

In a bowl atop another pan of simmering water, melt the chocolate and nut butter. When melted, add to the oat mixture and stir really well.  Tip into a tin (I use one that’s about 20cm square but you can see how much mixture you have so use a tin accordingly. I line mine with baking parchment to make thing easier). Then just chill for an hour or two, cut into slices and offer to your children and when they refuse, sit down and eat the lot yourself whilst writing them out of your will.

IMG_1243

How I make porridge

People are quite often scared to cook pasta for me, on account of me being Italian. I think they think I spend my whole time at home making pasta from scratch and that my kitchen is covered with spaghetti drying from the ceiling.

I never really understood this intimidation, until I started getting into porridge. For such a simple food, there seem to be an awful lot of rules about how you should make it. Porridge features not at all in the Italian diet, so I didn’t have any claim to it.

All I knew is that whenever you read about how to make porridge it would say forceful things such as “all you need is water and salt, anything else isn’t porridge”.

But I don’t like porridge made with water and salt and it’s taken me years to admit this. Furthermore, feeling that that’s the only way to eat porridge isn’t really helpful because porridge is really good for you, so it’s worth working out how YOU like to eat it. After all, I know some people who eat pasta with ketchup and do I judge?

You guess.

Anyway, this is how I make, and eat, porridge.

For one portion. I put the saucepan directly on my digital scales and weigh everything.

30g porridge oats

100g of milk

150g water

a pinch of salt

half a teaspoon of cinnamon (I didn’t think I liked cinnamon but it really works)

Some berries

Maple syrup

Nut butter of your choice

Weigh the porridge, water and milk straight into a saucepan, then add the cinnamon and salt and put on the stove. It seems quite a lot of liquid but this is the key (I’ve found) to making a lovely creamy porridge.

Simmer and stir for quite a long time, 5-10 mins. You can leave it periodically and come back to it and I find it meditative and I like to think about the day ahead whilst doing it. Also whilst doing it I can’t POSSIBLY do anything else so I say to my partner “the children need breakfast, I can’t POSSIBLY do it because I’m stirring my porridge”.

Once the milk and water has been largely, but not totally, absorbed – you will still have a fairly wet porridge – take it off the heat and leave it for a minute whilst you plate up your berries and nut butter. I nearly always have blueberries. In the winter I buy frozen ones and stick them in the porridge for that last minute standing time.

I also add to the plate a large – very large – tablespoon of nut butter, usually cashew or almond and always Meridian as it’s the best by far AND I LOVE IT. This is because, contrary to popular opinion, porridge on its own does not, and never has, filled me up til lunch time. If I eat porridge with no protein in it (i.e. the nut butter) I am as hungry as a pregnant woman in the first trimester by 10am. Sometimes 9am. But adding a huge dollop of nut butter not only adds useful nutrients and good fats, but helps fill me up.

On top of the porridge, berries and nut butter I add a teaspoon of maple syrup. A teaspoon of maple syrup has 30 calories which is nothing really, but it really adds to the yummyness of the porridge.

This is how I make porridge.