Sunday, 21 February 2016

Quinoa, Coconut, and Apricot Muesli Bars (vegan option)

Oh yeah, it's that time of year again! Lunches are being made frantically every morning (for the kids, for husbands, wives, yourselves) and its handy to have ideas to create something different every now and then to save yourself from the well known lunchbox rut!

These Quinoa, Coconut, and Apricot Muesli Bars are perfect for luncboxes or a morning/afternoon tea snack, or even a high protein breakfast on the run. They are free of gluten, grains, dairy (optional), nuts, soy, eggs (optional), and refined sugar.

These ones have apricots and raisins in, but you could substitute for any dried fruit you like, and you  could add in things like chopped nuts if you prefer. The option with eggs does hold together better, but if you are vegan or have egg allergies the egg free version tastes equally as delicious, just slightly more crumbly.

Egg free

Quinoa, Apricot, and Coconut Muesli Bars

Gluten free, grain free, dairy free (optional), soy free, nut free, free of refined sugar, egg free (optional)

2 cups Quinoa Flakes
1 cup desiccated coconut
1 cup dried apricot, diced
1/2 cup raisins
2 tsp cinnamon powder
1 tsp baking powder
100ml coconut oil or butter
2 tbsp honey
1 tbsp vanilla extract
2 eggs (or if you want a vegan option you can substitute eggs with 1/2 cup apple puree and 2 tbsp chia seeds)

1. Preheat oven to 180C. Grease or line a square or rectangular cake tin
2. In a large bowl, add the dry ingredietns (quinoa, coconut, apricots, raisins, cinnamon, and baking powder. Mix well to combine
3. In a small bowl whisk the eggs (or apple puree and chia seeds) with the honey and coconut oil (or butter). If your honey and butter (if using) are hard you may want to melt them slightly to use. Same applies if it is winter and your coconut has hardened.
4. Add the wet ingredients to the dry, and mix well to combine
5. Press the mixture in to the baking tin. Press down so that it is firmly packed and the top is fairly flat.
6. Bake for 25 minutes until golden brown.
7. Remove from oven and allow to cool on a wire rack, then slice into museli bars of the size you desire.



Monday, 1 February 2016

Jaffa Cakes

What do you do when you have leftover orange wedges from your daughters birthday party, it's Auckland Anniversary Weekend, and you need to stock the pantry with school lunchbox food for going back to school? You make Jaffa cakes of course!! For those of you who don't know, Aucklanders are referred to throughout NZ as JAFA's (stands for Just Another F'ing Aucklander for those from other parts of New Zealand, or Just Another Fabulous/Friendly/ Fantastic - or whichever other positive F word you can think of - Aucklander). Of course this then translates to the classic Jaffa flavour combination of Chocolate and Orange... hence the Jaffa cakes that were created,

The smell while cooking these is fantastic - the sweetness of the orange really permeates the house. I used fresh oranges that were part of the fruit platter at my youngest daughters fifth birthday celebrations and they were no longer at the stage where anyone was willing to eat them (they'd gone a little limp looking) but still perfectly edible! I have a major pet peeve in regards to food waste to anything that can be reused gets reused... leftover strawberries got frozen for future baking, leftover juice got make into gummy 'lollies', leftover watermelon got frozen to make watermelon slushies on a hot day, leftover cake....well that just got eaten!!

The jaffa cakes are free of gluten, grains, dairy, soy, and refined sugar, and smell amazing. I put plenty of cocoa in to make them nice and chocolatey but then they have that sweet note from the oranges and just a hint of that citrus tang. You could ice these if you wanted to make them a little more special, but this batch were for lunchboxes hence keeping them plain.

Jaffa Cakes

Gluten-free, grain-free, dairy-free, soy-free, free of refined sugar

1 cup almond flour (you can choose a flour of your choice if you cannot use nuts - you may just need to adjust your quantities)
1/2 cup cocoa
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp baking powder
2 large oranges, chopped into wedges, skin on
3/4 cup water
3 eggs
3 tbsp honey
1 tsp vanilla extract

1. Preheat oven to 180C. Line a muffin tin with muffin cases or use oil/butter to grease.
2. In a pot bring water and chopped oranges to a boil. Simmer for about 15-20 minutes until oranges are soft and aromatic. Leave to cool for a few minutes,
3. In a bowl, combine dry ingredients (flour, cocoa, baking soda, baking powder) and whisk to combine and remove any lumps.
3. In a blender, combine oranges and honey (including the water the oranges were boiled in), and blend until smooth. Pour mixture in to dry ingredients. Whisk your eggs and vanilla extract (or blend in the blender after you have removed the oranges - not at the same time though as your orange mix will probably still be quite hot if you're impatient as I am and you will have scrambled eggs!). Add egg mix to the bowl too.
4. Mix well to combine all ingredients. The mixture will be quite runny. I filled my cases about half way as I didn't want them too big for the kids but you could fill them 3/4 if you would like a bigger cake. Speaking of cake, this recipe will also make a delicious cake, so you could simply cook it in a cake tin and adjust your cooking time if this is what you are after.
5. Bake for around 20 minutes (for the muffins) until springy to touch.
6. Remove from oven and allow to cool slightly before transferring to a wire rack to cool. Once cool you can choose to ice if you would like.