Thursday, July 29, 2010

Muesli Bars

I was doing the supermarket shopping with mum on the weekend and I decided to try the healthiest looking muesli bars I could find. Having decided (by looking at the packaging - incidentally, bad idea) I proceeded to wander the aisles reading the nutritional information. I was staggered to see that a simple muesli bar that had not been roasted, had no chocolate added and the packaging of which boasted various health claims could be so packed full of sugar and trans fats. They were rather expensive so mum and I decided to put them back and make our own. 

And here they are!

These bars were wonderful, nice and chewy, easy to make and very adaptable. The original recipe came from Australia Food which I found through Taste Spotting but (as always) I’ve altered the recipe to suit what I’ve got. Do you see the theme developing here? I sure do!
We’ll start with the down side, these didn’t set quite hard enough to enjoy if you were on the run. I had to lift them carefully out of the tray an even then they could crumble. To prevent this from happening I put them in the fridge and all was well. Next time I make them (and believe me there will be and next time, and probably and next and a next ...) anyway, next time I’ll be using a smaller tray so that they’re thicker and hopefully they’ll stick together. Secondly, I’ll experiment with the butter levels as I found these ones too buttery. Though it did give a depth of flavour I found it too much and it somewhat detracted from the healthy image I had in mind. 
Now onto the positives, there’s a lot. The bars were delicious!! They were inexpensive to make, can be altered as you wish and didn’t take long to prepare or set. The bars were sweet (but not sickeningly so), chewy and looked stunning. You can make them healthier by changing the fruit, for example instead of using dried fruit which can high in sugar you could use fresh fruit and dehydrate them yourself. Try cutting some apple, pear, apricot, nectarine, plum, cherries, fig or any other fruit that’s in season and drying them in an oven or in a dehydrator. The combinations are only limited by your green grocer ;)
I wonder how a little passionfruit would would go with nectarine for a summer one ... Anyway before I fall into a dreamlike state I need to finish this :D
1 cup rolled oats
1 cup unsweetened desiccated coconut
1/4 cup sesame seeds
1/4 cup poppy seeds
1/2 cup walnuts
1/4 cup currents
1/2 cup dried cranberries
1/4 cup dried cherries
1/4 cup sultanas
1/4 of flax seeds
100g butter 
1/2 cup honey
1/8 cup brown sugar
* If you wanted to make these vegan simply substitute coconut butter and maple syrup for the honey.
- Line square or rectangular baking tin with grease proof paper. Set aside.

- Combine oats, coconut, sesame seeds, poppy seeds in a fry pan over low heat. Stir every few minutes for 8 minutes or until golden. Be careful not to burn the mixture. Transfer to a bowl to cool. Stir in the fruit and flax seeds.

- In a small sauce pan stir the butter, honey and sugar over a medium heat until the sugar has melted. Bring to the boil and then reduce the heat to low. Simmer, without stirring, for 4-5 minutes. Add butter mixture to dry ingredients. Stir well until combined.

- Spoon the mixture into the tin. Use a large metal spoon to press the mixture down firmly and evenly. This must be firmly compacted otherwise bars will fall apart when being held. I put a layer of grease proof paper over the top of the semi compacted mixture, then placed a heavy book on top and used that to smooth out the contents. 

Allow to cool and then cut into squares or rectangles. The bars can be stored in a foil-lined airtight container for up to a week.

Friday, July 23, 2010


I've been following Sami from A Teenage Gourmet since she began her blog and I have to say that she's wonderful! Her recipes are generally low calorie and very healthy but without omitting ANY flavour which can be a real life saver some days. The following is her granola recipe, which was adapted from Bon Appetit. This is perfect in the morning with some milk or sprinkled on top of yoghurt or even as a mid day/night snack. I recently went to Queensland for a holiday with some friends and I brought a snap lock bag of this with me - they loved it and we sat for at least 10 minutes feasting. 

I’ve altered her recipe further to work with what ingredients were in stock. You can leave out the chocolate if you want to go healthier, personally I leave it in as it will clump together this way providing more variation in the texture.

3 cups oats
1 cup coarsely chopped pecans (I've changed this to almonds and cashews which both worked well)
2/3 cup unsweetened shredded coconut 
3 tablespoons brown sugar
3/4 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground ginger
1/3 cup honey
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 cup assorted dried fruit (I use raisins, currants, cranberries and sultanas)

Preheat oven to 150°C and line a baking tray with baking paper.

Combine the first 7 ingredients in a bowl. Stir honey and oil in saucepan over medium-low heat until smooth. Pour the hot honey mixture over dry ingredients, toss to coat oats in the honey as evenly as possible.

Spread onto baking tray. Bake until golden brown, stirring every 10 minutes, for roughly 30 minutes.

What can I say, incorporating the chocolate wasn't working too well with the spatula so hands were resorted to :P
Place the tray on a wire cooling rack and stir granola, allow to cool. Mix in fruit. If you’re adding chocolate do so when it come out of the oven, you can either chop VERY finely or melt an individual dark chocolate bar, I tend to use about half a packet (50g) of dark chocolate and toss it through the hot mixture once it’s left the oven.

This will stay at it’s best if kept for about a week in an airtight container.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

CRISIS (and Fudge babies!)

I'm afraid my camera cord has performed a disappereing act so there won't be photos for a while. However when I find it/buy another I'll edit the posts and add the photos. I've had a look over the house and the enitre family is now involved a manhunt to find said escapee - don't worry I have the equivelent of MI5 on my side.

Wish me luck!

In the mean time however:

Fudge Babies

Recently I've stumbled upon a lot of vegan and vegetarain blogs so I decided to try a few of the recipes out. These are an adaption of Chocolate Covered Katie's  chocolate cookie dough babies. She's written and photographed a veriety of flavours and I have to say they're rather good. I found them very rich and could only manage two at breakfast today. Don't worry the rest weren't wasted, they made wonderful snacks throughout the day with no added sugar or anything un natural I'm giving them a sticky smile of approval!


80g pitted dates
30g cashews (I used almonds and cashews though you can use any nuts you like)
20g almonds
1/2tsp vanilla extract


In a food processor add all the ingredients and process until combined and finely cut. Then Simply form them into balls, bars or other shapes of your choice. To form them into other shapes spread the mixture out thinly onto baking paper and place in the fridge for 10 minutes. Then using a cookie cutter stamp out the shapes as you want them.

That's all for now, it's time to resume the search!

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Seared Salmon with Lentil Tabouleh

A few days ago whilst browsing in David Jones food section I stumbled across a Lebanese salad which was essentially a cross between tabouleh, lentils and couscous, I bought a small tub to try it out and had about half of it for lunch. That night I came across the recipe below which was featured on Tastespotting. Feeling inspired I used the remaining Lebanese salad to make my own version of the Lentil Tabouleh below. I didn’t follow their directions for the salad, but here’s the link to the original recipe.
I found the salmon very delicate, it definitely needed the salad to carry it. I would not recommend preparing the salmon this way if you’re having it with roast vegetables as it’s not strong enough. To counteract this you could always add different spices or make a sauce so it to avoid the fish being lost in the dish. If you like it to be medium or well done add either another 1-2 minutes.
The following is for one person.
I’m afraid this will not be very accurate, as it is a matter of taste, plus I don’t know exactly what was in the Lebanese salad, here goes anyway. However I cooked the salmon according to their directions.
green lentils
cous cous
lemon juice
I added 
3 asparagus sticks 
1/4 cucumber
1 tomato 
few thin slices of red onion
squeeze of lemon juice
drizzle of olive oil
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp black pepper
1 salmon fillet, skin removed
Preheat oven to 180℃.
Pour about an inch of boiled water into a steamer and add the asparagus with their ends broken off, cover and allow the steam until cooked - about 3-4 minutes. Remove from the steamer and cool for a few minutes. Make a small cut through the asparagus lengthways at the base of it. Turn the asparagus 90 degrees and make 3-4 cuts lenghtways. This is so the asparagus will curl through the salad. Toss together the salad ingredients and top with a squeeze of lemon juice.
Brush salmon in oil and rub in the seasoning to your taste. Place in a oven proof frying pan  on a medium-high heat top side down for 2 minutes to sear the top of the fillet. Turn the salmon so it’s the right way up and transfer to the heated oven for 8 minutes. 
 Remove salmon from the oven and allow it to stand covered for 5-7 minutes, this lets the juices settle. Give the salad a final toss and serve. 

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