Sticky Ginger Faux-Cookie Dough…

img_20160930_190029.jpgIt’s October guys, and that means I can now indulge in all things autumn related!

Autumn is my favourite season- the months through September to November make me happier than any other (unless its raining and my face or hair gets wet). And what is one of the first things that comes to mind? Gingerbread (or, in Yorkshire, we have Parkin. This is a moist, dense, and sticky gingerbread). When I was younger my brother and I made gingerbread biscuits with my dad regularly- and most of the dough would go missing before the biscuits went into the oven. And I don’t think it was necessarily me and my brother who were to blame 9 times out of 10.

Following my  Healthy Chocolate-Chip Chickpea Cookie Dough, I suddenly began to wonder if I could feed my gingerbread habit by playing around with this recipe. And yes, yes I could.

This is great spread on rice cakes, or with sliced pear, or just on its own. If you really want to take it up a notch, then throw in some dark chocolate chips. This is probably my favourite way to enjoy the recipe below…

Ingredients

  • 1 can chickpeas, thoroughly drained and rinsed (this is about 280g)
  • 4tsp almond butter (or cashew butter; the only nut butter I wouldn’t recommend for this is PB. I feel that it’s similar to tahini in flavour, and so lends itself to savoury recipes over this sweet one)
  • 2tbsp almond milk, unsweetened
  • 1/2 cup oats
  • 1 scant tbsp maple syrup (or honey)
  • 2tsp ground ginger
  • 1/2tsp cinnamon
  • 1/4tsp mixed spice
  • 1/4tsp salt
  • 4 fresh, pitted medjool dates, torn into pieces, and soaked in water just off of the boil, with a little grating of fresh ginger for 24hours. Store this in the fridge, and allow the dates to infuse with ginger.

 

Method

  • Empty all of the ingredients but the oats into a food processor, and blitz until as smooth as possible (don’t worry: this will take a while, especially if you’re using a knackered blender like mine instead of an actual food processor)
  • Now, add in 1/4 cup of the oats and blitz again. Once incorporated, empty into a bowl, and stir the remaining oats through the mixture.
  • Divide between four ramekins for a healthy snack party, or store it in a tub in the fridge for your own personal healthy snack stocks. It will last about 2-3 days in an airtight container.

 

If you aren’t into chocolate then you can also top this with a couple of extra dates, as seen in the picture. But if you are a chocolate fan…CHOCOLATE CHIP IT!

Healthy Chocolate-Chip Chickpea Cookie Dough

wp-1484392750797.jpgFinally, finally, I have a perfect chickpea cookie dough. This has taken three attempts and numerous cans of chickpeas to perfect, but I think that I’ve cracked it. It has the perfect thick, doughy texture, melting pockets of chocolate, a slight saltiness, a subtle sweetness…its just more than satisfying to eat. And it’s also just in time for biscuit week on GBBO.

Now, I am not a sweet person; if you are then one change I would recommend you with this recipe is adding in another 1/2-1tbsp maple syrup, or a couple of fresh medjool dates (do try it without first though, as it tastes great already). If you choose to add the maple syrup, then you may want to reduce the milk by 1tbsp to maintain the thick texture.  As I haven’t personally made this adjustment you’ll have to let me know how it goes!

For this recipe I decided to use some sugar free chocolate I was kindly sent by Discover (review right here:https://ecstaticallyem.wordpress.com/2016/08/24/discover-mini-gianduiotto-review/ ). The texture of this chocolate worked so well in this recipe, but I know that it can be hard to get hold of in shops as its made down south (you can order online), and it’s also a little pricy for the Gianduiotto. The bars themselves are cheaper if you can get hold of them, but alternatively you can use any chocolate you have to hand and it will work just fine. These little chocolates have a hazelnut taste to them, and it really adds something to the recipe, so definitely try a nutty chocolate in the recipe.

With all that said, enjoy this super-easy recipe and let me know what you think! You can eat this just as the dough, serve it with some ice-cream, spread it onto sliced apple- or any other way you can think of. Let’s get going…

Continue reading “Healthy Chocolate-Chip Chickpea Cookie Dough”

Maple, Pecan Butter & Banana Blender Muffins

I used to bake a lot. I don’t think a week went by when I was in high school, when I wasn’t baking something. Then uni hit, and you don’t really have much time to bake. I did manage a few banana breads, because they’re incredibly easy, but anything else just wasn’t going to happen. It didn’t help that our oven in second year was slightly temperamental- I called it a pile of crap one evening, and the next day it burnt the sole batch of muffins I had attempted to make in the year I had been there.

But, I am now home and so some baking can commence. But it still has to be quick: I have an estimated 30 or so books to read, and I’m keeping my fingers crossed for a job in August, and I have work experience at the end of this month.

So: blender muffins. I found the recipe I adapted over on Pinterest, and I shall link this fabulous blog right here: http://www.wellplated.com/banana-oatmeal-muffins/ . I fell in love with this blog, and so I really recommend you check it out. Anywho, these muffins are healthy, tasty, and create minimal mess- ideal for desserts, snacks, or breakfasts. The pecan butter made them incredibly soft, and the house smelt of maple syrup for a couple of days- these muffins also disappeared in record time. I only made half a batch, and my family had eaten them in about 3 hours. I hope that you enjoy them- and experiment with this recipe. Add in some chocolate chips, switch up the syrup, or play around with different nut butters…


Ingredients (makes 10-12)
this recipe also halves well to make a smaller batch

  • 2tbsp maple syrup
  • 1/2 cup pecan butter (I used Meridian; it’s the only brand I know of that makes pecan butter so far)
  • 2 & 1/3 cups  oats
  • 2 bananas
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 cup yoghurt
  • 1.5tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2tsp vanilla essence

Method
  • Pre-heat the oven to 200*c, or if you’re using a fan oven 190*c. Line a tray with muffin cases, or silicone muffin cases (I just bought some for £2, and it was one of the best investments I ever made)
  • Throw all of your ingredients into the blender, yes all of them. Blend until a smooth batter forms.
  • Pour into muffin cases, and place into your preheated oven for 15 minutes, until risen and golden. If the muffins are done, they should spring back when you press down on them lightly.
You can let these cool before you dig in, but they are amazing warm with a layer of pecan butter spread on top…

Peanut Butter Rice Crispie Bars

First up: I cannot take full credit for these bars. The recipe I used as a base (swapping brown rice syrup for honey, and chucking in vanilla and cinnamon) can be found right here: http://thebigmansworld.com/2015/09/23/healthy-3-ingredient-rice-crispy-treats/ . This blog is AMAZING for recipe inspiration, and I encourage you all to head over and have a good rummage around. Other ways I thought I could change up these bars is by adding some dried raspberries, blueberries, dates, or cranberries- or dipping them in dark chocolate. Keep your eyes peeled for that.

Fun fact: someone commented on the instagram picture said that in New Zealand they call these bubble cakes instead of rice crispie buns (when in bun form). I had my family try these bars, and though my brother was at first disgusted that I had added peanut butter to a “classic”, it didn’t stop him eating one or two. We used to make these bars in bun form with my dad, this being the only “baking” he could actually handle. And pans with burnt marshmallow and golden syrup welded onto them say that even this “baking” was a bit of a stretch. If you want, pile this mixture into bun cases instead of making bars, to really get that childhood treat back. I have to admit, I do want to see these encased in brightly coloured bun cases some time soon.

Ingredients

  • 2 cups rice crispies (I used the Kallo wholegrain puffed rice cereal)
  • 1/2 cup chunky peanut butter
  • 1/2 cup runny honey
  • 1tsp vanilla
  • OPTIONAL: 1/2tsp cinnamon

Method

  • In a large bowl combine the rice crispies with the honey, vanilla, and cinnamon (if using).
  • Place the peanut butter into a microwavable bowl, and melt slightly in the microwave; add this to the crispies too.
  • Stir until well combined, and then press into a lined baking tray, before chilling for at least 1 hour. These keep well in the fridge, and are good to go for around 3-4 days.

Snack Attack: 30 + Snack Ideas

    1. Boiled eggs (You can prep these and keep them in the fridge for times of need)
    2. Shredded wheat with hot milk and fruit, (actually one of my favourite night-time snacks because its so comforting) or…
    3. Mini shredded wheats (I can eat these like crisps, but they’re really good dipped in nut butter, or yoghurt mixed with honey. You can also add them to snack number 7, for a larger snack, or great breakfast)
    4. Hummus with veggie sticks/ wholemeal pitta (or both)
    5. Dark chocolate (go for 75% and above)
    6. Dark chocolate coffee beans (wonderful before an afternoon workout for a bit of a caffeine hit)
    7. Yoghurt + nut butter + honey + berries (mix up the first three ingredients in a ratio of 100g:1tbsp:2tsp, and throw in your chosen berries. Wonderful as a dessert as well- especially if you use frozen berries, and throw in some cacao, or cocoa)
    8. Smoothie (there are plenty of recipes on the blog, simply type head over to the “Drinks” section)
    9. Medjool dates, straight up, or…
    10. Dates stuffed with nut butter (use 1/2tsp of almond or peanut butter per date), or…
    11. Dates stuffed with nut butter and dark chocolate (simply add a small square of dark chocolate to each date. This also makes for a great dessert)
    12. Dried apple rings (Holland and Barratt’s Apple Snaffle is wonderful- chewy and marshmallowy in texture, with a strong apple flavour, but no added sugar. You can also make them yourself using this recipe: http://ecstaticallyem.blogspot.co.uk/2016/02/easy-chewy-apple-rings.html ).
    13. Fresh fruit (pick your favourite and dig in; I opt for pears, apples, plums, berries, and bananas above all else)
    14. Baked banana (Peel most of the banana, leaving some of the peel along the sides and on the bottom. Sprinkle with cinnamon, wrap loosely in foil, and bake for 15-20 minutes in an oven preheated to 180*c. Alternatively, if you aren’t sick of nut butter or chocolate, and want to turn this into dessert, then go for this peanut butter and chocolate baked banana: http://ecstaticallyem.blogspot.co.uk/2015/03/peanut-butter-chocolate-baked-banana.html)
    15. Energy balls (type this into the blogs search bar, and choose from snickers, bakewell tart, chocolate mint, and better than bounty)
    16. Sweet potato wedges (chop a small-medium sweet potato into wedges, add a little salt, pepper, and smoked paprika, and microwave until tender. Serve as it is, or with condiments. My choices would be ketchup, salsa, guacamole, or mustard. If you want something fancier, and have a griddle pan or grill, then check out my tiger wedges: http://ecstaticallyem.blogspot.co.uk/2015/10/tiger-wedges-creamy-avocado-dip-with.html)
    17. Banana bread (Recipe for a chocolate, hazelnut and banana bread can be found right here: http://ecstaticallyem.blogspot.co.uk/2015/12/hunky-monkey-banana-bread.html )
    18. Pumpkin bread (Why wait for autumn? This recipe can be made all year around, which is perfect for pumpkin addicts like myself: http://ecstaticallyem.blogspot.co.uk/2015/09/the-easiest-tastiest-pumpkin-bread.html)
    19. Cappuccinos (Okay, so it isn’t a snack snack. But when I want something, but I’m not quite sure what, and it needs to be quick and warm and wake me up, then its a semi skimmed naked cappuccino I go for, and I usually have a banana on the side. This is actually one of my go-to pre gym snacks.)
    20. Banana Nice-cream (One for the veggies and vegans and lactose intolerant/ allergic people. Slice up and freeze one ripe banana- or keep a stock of chopped banana in bags in freezer- and then blend until smooth and creamy. You can add in cocoa powder and honey, peanut or almond butter, berries, chocolate chips…and you end up with a cheap and healthy ice- cream substitute) 
    21. Tofu sticks (Season 100g tofu, cut into chunks, with your choices of herbs and spices, then place into an oven preheated to 190*c for 10-20 minutes, tossing half way through. This can be stored in the fridge too for up to two days, and so can be picked up on the go)
    22. Nakd bars (For days you want it really quick and easy. I love the bakewell tart, gingerbread, and chocolate orange. They’re also amazing when microwaved for literally a few seconds, until gooey)
    23. Baked chickpeas (You can by these at health food stores, but can also make them at home- recipe coming soon!)
    24. Rice cakes + nut butter + banana (I spread three rice cakes with my chosen nut butter, top with sliced banana, and add some cinnamon)

 

  • Rice cakes + jam + nut butter (Like a PB&J, but with more crunch)

 

 

  • Rice cakes + avocado (Mash up 1/3 of an avocado, and spread over three rice cakes. Add salt, pepper, and a squeeze of lemon- you can also add tomato)
  • Rice cakes + cottage cheese, tomato, and black pepper (dollop of cottage cheese, sliced tomato, and add black pepper. Easy.)
  • Chia pudding (I have a couple of recipes here on the blog, simply type ‘chia pudding’ into the search bar)
  • Oatcakes (thick ones are the only way to go. I opt for straight up, ginger, or black pepper)
  • Homemade granola with yoghurt (Check out a granola recipe by typing it into the search bar, or simply add a handful of your favourite to a good dollop of yoghurt)
  • Toast + Topping (this is one of my more substantial snacks: toast 1-2 slices bread of choice- I usually opt for sourdough, which I buy and then freeze to save money- and top with 1/4 avocado, or a little butter, or cottage cheese, or jam, or nut butter…)
  • Mini Ploughmans (whack 50g cottage cheese into a little dish, chop up an small apple, grab 2 oatcakes, some grapes, and form a filling mini-meal)
  • Salted Popcorn (I tend to go for Metcalf’s salted version; if you don’t go for the toffee, chocolate etc. flavours, and keep it simple, popcorn is a really great snack. It’s rich in fibre, and takes on flavour well, so add some cinnamon, or another spice blend if you fancy.)

 

 

Easy Chewy Apple Rings

If you read my monthly favourites, then you’ll know that I have been all over dried apple rings recently- more specifically, the ones from Holland and Barrett’s. But sometimes I like to make things for myself, or at least have a go. And to be honest, these apple rings look after themselves once they’re in the oven, following minimal prep. They make a great pre-workout, or on-the-go snack, and have a wonderful chewy and naturally sweet thing going on. Simply grab some apples of choice, some optional spices, and a baking tray…

Ingredients (makes 3 servings)

  • 3 large apple, I used pink lady
  • Cinnamon, to taste (this is completely optional)

Method

  • Preheat the oven to 120*c, and grab a non-stick baking tray.
  • Cut your apple in half, and remove the core from each half, then turn the apple so the flat side is down on the work surface, and cut into equal sized slices. I keep them fairly chunky, about the thickness of the very end joint of your little finger. It isn’t an exact science. If you have a mandolin slicer then have some fun using that though.
  • Place in one layer onto the baking tray, and sprinkle with cinnamon if desired.
  • Now, throw them into the oven and set the timer for 1 hour. After this hour is up, turn the slices over, and bake for another 30-40 minutes.
  • Remove from the oven and allow to cool completely before placing into resealable bags. Store for up to three days.

Chia Mocha Pudding

I have to say it: I don’t think I’ve made anything this good in a while. Of course, anything with coffee in it is a winner for me, but this snack/light breakfast/dessert hits so many other marks: great texture, indulgent taste- pretty looking as well.

A little while ago chia seeds were really hard to come by- Holland and Barratt’s was the only place I could ever find them. Now Tesco, Asda, Sainsbury’s, and even Home Bargains stock them. I picked up a massive bag from Home Bargains for around £2, and so am now currently testing out a few different chia pudding recipes- for any of you who enjoy getting hold of slightly more “out there” ingredients.  Same with the cacao; I bought this on offer at Holland and Barratt’s, but I understand that it can be expensive, and harder to find than a chameleon in a wallpaper shop. A great alternative is unsweetened dark cocoa powder. You won’t notice the difference flavour-wise, I swear. With all of that said, lets get on with it… 


Ingredients
  • 1.5tsp coffee, made up with 1/2tsp boiled water
  • 1tsp maple syrup
  • 1/2 banana, mashed until smooth
  • 1tbsp chia seeds
  • 1/4 cup coconut milk
  • 1tbsp cacao
  • Small dash of cinnamon
Method
  1. Into a bowl place your chia seeds, milk, maple syrup, mashed banana, cinnamon, and cacao. Mix it all up, whisking thoroughly until smooth. This may take a while due to the powdery texture of the cacao, but persevere: it comes together suddenly.
  2. Pour into a pot or glass, and place into the fridge to chill overnight.
  3. When required, lift out of the fridge and get ready to enjoy- if you want to, mix up a little topping using 30g Greek yoghurt, 1tsp almond butter, and a few drops of maple syrup…