These malted superfood bars with mango and coconut chocolate are just what’s needed to give a boost when spirits or body are flagging. They are vegan, almost refined sugar free and are loaded with so many nutritious ingredients, it’s hard to stop bouncing around with energetic abandonment once one has been consumed.
I’ve been hearing a lot about bowls recently, smoothie bowls, Buddha bowls and rice bowls seem to be all the rage. I thought it was time to join in and come up with my very own take: the quinoa bowl. It was also a chance to showcase not only the contents, but the beautiful Japanese vessel in which it was served.
Porridge was a breakfast mainstay when I was growing up and it’s given me a love of oats that’s never left me. I use them in porridge, in my smoothies and in baking. But I rarely think about soaking them overnight and having a bowl of raw goodness for breakfast. Bircher muesli or overnight oats, call them what you will, is another tasty addition to have in one’s breakfast repertoire.
When Natalie of Hungry Hinny chose pumpkin for this month’s We Should Cocoa, my first thought was not a happy one. Normally we manage to grow a fair few winter squashes; this year, if we are very lucky and the mild weather continues for a bit, we might get one. So, for the first time in many a long year, I had to buy a winter squash, in this case a butternut. Once I got over this unfortunate turn of events, a number of possibilities went flying around my head. Last year, I made a really light almond and squash cake and some really dense pumpkin and ginger cakes, both were delicious although very different. I quite fancied making a marble cake to get the bright orange from the pumpkin contrasting with the chocolate, but others got there before me. In the end, I thought I’d go for a triple whammy and do something using pumpkin oil, pumpkin seeds and squash flesh.
- Roasted 350g of cubed butternut squash in a little olive oil at 200C for 20 minutes.
- Toasted 40g of pumpkin seeds by dry frying them in a pan for a few minutes until a substantial number had popped.
- Put 300g flour (100g wholemeal spelt, 200g white) in a mixing bowl.
- Added 2 tsp baking powder, 1/2 tsp bicarb of soda and 1/4 tsp salt.
- Added 2 tbsp cocoa powder & whisked together to ensure all was incorporated and there were no lumps.
- Stirred in the cooled pumpkin seeds.
- Grated in 30g cheddar cheese.
- Divided 70g goats cheese into two.
- Chopped half into small pieces and stirred into the flour.
- Chopped the other half into 24 portions and put to one side.
- In a separate bowl beat 3 small eggs with 200ml yogurt.
- Beat in 50ml of pumpkin seed oil and 50ml sunflower oil.
- Beat in 100ml milk and a good good grinding of black pepper.
- Chopped a few tarragon leaves into tiny pieces and beat these in too.
- Mashed the roasted squash roughly with a fork and stirred into the milk mixture.
- Made a well in the centre of the dry ingredients and added the batter.
- Stirred as lightly as possible until everything was just incorporated.
- Divided between 12 silicone muffin moulds.
- Topped each with a few raw pumpkin seeds and two pieces of goats cheese.
- Baked at 200C for 20 minutes
- Left for a few minutes in their moulds, then turned out onto a wire rack to cool.
As I hoped, these were a match for the beetroot muffins and made a very tasty lunch for CT and I for the next few days. Toasting the pumpkin seeds first worked really well, bringing out their rich nutty flavour. The squash was more subtle, but played its part very well in keeping the muffins moist. The tarragon added a nice aniseed hint, although a few more leaves would have given a better flavour; it was only just detectable. The cheese added that yummy umami quality which just makes you want to come back for more.
One Ingredient is also featuring pumpkin this month, so in addition to entering this, I’m also looking forward to seeing the other entries – squash is one of my favourite vegetables. This month’s challenge is hosted by Nazima of Franglais Kitchen, but is co-hosted by Laura of How to Cook Good Food.
As the last of our tarragon was used in these muffins, I am entering them into Herbs on Saturday, hosted by Karen of Lavender and Lovage.
I’m also submitting these to Weekend Herb Blogging as I’ve used both tarragon and pumpkin seeds. This is a weekly challenge where any recipe featuring some part of a plant can be submitted. This week is being hosted by La Cucina di Cristina.
Now here is an intriguing idea – chocolate covered seeds. If you need an excuse to eat chocolate, this might just be it. Pumpkin and sunflower seeds all enrobed with our favourite ingredient. I was sent the new chilli and ginger Munchy Seeds to try as well as a packet of an apricot mix. Well, chilli and ginger combined with chocolate was not something I was going to say no to.
Belgian Dark Chocolate with Chilli & Ginger – unlike my chocotos, these are not going to cause a major melt down in your mouth, but they do leave a pleasant, if subtle warmth behind. Covered in Belgian Plain Chocolate (65%), the seeds were more palatable than they might otherwise have been. Although I enjoy raw pumpkin seeds, I’m not so keen on sunflowers in their raw state. The best bits were the ginger chunks, the chilli contributing to their overall heat and deliciousness – shame there were so few of them.
Belgian Chocolate Mix with Apricots – the pumpkin seeds and apricot pieces were covered in the same 65% dark chocolate whereas the sunflower seeds were covered in 30% milk. This made for an interesting combination. Again the sunflowers benefited from their chocolate covering and the dark chocolate offset the sweetness of the apricots.
These Choccy Munchy Seeds come in packets of 50g so are just about right for a moorland walk. They cost between £1.50 and £2.00 and are available at Harvey Nichols or directly from Munchy Seeds online. The seeds have a decent amount of chew to them and this slows down consumption and increases the enjoyment.
Tasty treats these are indeed, but I’m not sure they are quite as healthy for you as the manufacturer would have you believe – sugar is, after all, quite high up in the list of ingredients and these did taste rather sweet. That said, if you’re looking for a chocolate snack, these are likely to be better for you than a standard confectionary bar.
All in all, these were a fun and interesting way to increase our intake of some useful vitamins and minerals. They were, actually, good enough to inspire me to have a go at making my own. I’ll let you know how I get on.
In a bid to have a slightlier healthier breakfast in the mornings than our normal toast, I thought it was time to make muesli again. This time though I wanted to add some highly nutritious cocoa nibs which have the added bonus of giving a nice chocolatey crunch.
- Toasted 1lb of rolled oats in oven 175C until very slightly brown and smelling nutty – left to cool.
- Toasted 6oz mixed nuts (walnuts, brazils and hazelnuts) chopped into pieces in oven at same temperature for about 10 mins – left to cool.
- Toasted 4oz mixed sunflower and pumpkin seeds in oven at same temperature for about 5 mins – left to cool.
- Spooned these into a large jar, then added: 2oz cocoa nibs, 1 tbsp pollen, 2oz raisins, 2oz dried papaya chunks, 2oz dried pineapple and 2oz goji berries.
- Gave jar a jolly good shake until all nicely mixed together.