Bowlfuls of wintery chocolate granola covered in milk and eaten from the comfort of your sofa wrapped up in a snuggly dressing gown… Perfect!
I love making my own granola, it’s so easy to do and you can pretty much throw flavours together and it’ll work – I’d even go so far to say it’s foolproof. For this granola recipe I’ve used chocolate as the main flavour, with a hint of cinnamon throughout. I’ve added in raw cacao but you could easily substitute for a good quality dark cocoa powder instead (perhaps add a little more than instructed below if using cocoa instead).
As Christmas is on the way, you could make batches of this granola and then pour into glass jars and tie a lovely ribbon around to make a pretty homemade gift for your family and friends. I’m sure they’ll love it as much as I do! I like to create little home-made treats for this time of the year, it’s a great way to play around in the kitchen and get creative, and then pass all the loveliness to your loved ones.
I’ve created a recipe tutorial over on my Instagram page @jennifermakes of how to make this granola, so after giving the recipe a read through below it would be worth watching the video first and then you’re good to go!
You will need:
- 2 tbsp of coconut oil
- 2 tbsp of maple syrup
- 2 tbsp of raw cacao
- 1/2 tsp of cinnamon
- 1/2 tsp of vanilla extract
- 150g of oats
- 100g mixed nuts
- 2 tbsp of pumpkin seeds
- 2 tbsp of sunflower seeds
- 50g chopped dates
How to make:
- Preheat the oven to 160°c.
- Begin by adding the coconut oil, maple syrup, raw cacao, cinnamon and vanilla extract to a pan. Gently heat together until the ingredients are melted.
- In a mixing bowl add the oats, mixed nuts and seeds and stir together.
- Pour the wet ingredients into the mixing bowl and using a spoon, stir together until fully coated and combined.
- Spread out the granola onto a baking tray in an even layer.
- Bake in the preheated oven for 12 minutes, stirring halfway through.
- Add the chopped dates when cool, store in an airtight container.
Soup, glorious soup!
It’s my favourite time of the year, when it’s chilly outside and you fancy something warm and comforting to eat, soup is the perfect option. It’s such an easy dish to make too, with endless amounts of flavour combinations – there’s no right or wrong when it comes to soup!
This soup is my take on the classic carrot and coriander, however I’ve included red lentils and a little spice to add a twist to the flavours. Also adding in lentils creates a much more wholesome and filling dish, so it’s perfect to take to work for lunch or even as a late night supper.
I’ve heard that some people have a love-hate relationship with coriander, so if you’re not particularly keen on the flavour you can easily swap it out for fresh parsley instead (although the flavour will alter slightly). Also I tend to create recipes that don’t have onion in them as I have a high intolerance to them, but this soup would lend well to half a chopped onion being thrown in at the early stage for a little extra flavour.
Also feel free to try different stocks when making batches of soup, I tend to use whatever I have in the cupboards and if I don’t have any at all I’ll just use boiling water instead.
So let’s get to the recipe! This soup make just over a litre, so it’s great to chill and eat throughout the week. You could also freeze it in containers to prevent any waste.
You will need:
- 500g of carrots
- 250g of potatoes
- 100g of dried red lentils
- 800ml of stock (vegetable, chicken or beef)
- 1 garlic clove
- 1/2 tsp of ground ginger (or fresh)
- 1 tsp of cumin
- 20g of coriander
- salt and pepper
How to make:
- Roughly peel and chop the carrots and potatoes into bitesize pieces, dice the garlic (and fresh ginger if using) and add to a large pan on a medium heat.
- Make the stock with boiling water, either using fresh or a stock cube. You can add spoonfuls of the stock to the pan to prevent the garlic burning.
- Add the cumin, salt, pepper and the ground ginger (if you’re not using fresh ginger) and stir together. Pour in the stock and bring to the boil.
- Rinse the dried red lentils and then add to the pan, bring down the heat to a high simmer.
- Tear off the coriander leaves and set to one side, chop up the stalks and add to the pan.
- Simmer the soup for twenty minutes or until the vegetables are soft.
- Leave to cool and then blend until smooth.
- When ready to eat, reheat in a pan and then serve with the fresh coriander leaves.
This week I was set a challenge… to come up with a healthier version of the humble flapjack. At first I thought to myself it would be pretty impossible to get anything close to resembling a ‘traditional’ flapjack… however with perseverance and lots of experimenting, I think I may have cracked it!
Now, don’t be under any illusion that these are ‘like for like’ flapjack swaps, as you’re never going to get a healthier version to taste like the buttery golden syrup stodge that we all know and love – that’s just crazy talk! However, I’ve developed a recipe that is sweet, sticky and doesn’t fall apart when you pick it up (key boxes ticked off) and they will make a delicious afternoon snack or if you’re in a hurry before work or school, grab a couple of slices and have for your breakfast.
To make these flapjacks lovely and sweet, I’ve used ripe bananas in the mix. I’ve tried a few recipes before that use mashed banana and they have always turned out a little bit hit and miss, sometimes too ‘banana-ry’ and have a strange chewy taste which I’m definitely not keen on. So as I’m aware of this issue with some healthier alternatives, I’ve made sure the banana isn’t the overpowering ingredient by adding honey, sultanas and coconut to equal out the taste.
Bananas can be overpowering, but this recipe is just right!
Another little tip is to use porridge oats instead of chunky steel cut oats, they tend to absorb the wet ingredients better and keep the flapjacks soft and held together. Also after baking turn out them out onto wire rack with the bottom facing up and this will help them to be more crispy – because nobody likes a soggy bottom!
Feel free to swap the sultanas for other dried fruit or even nuts, seeds or chocolate chips.
You will need:
- 200g porridge oats
- 25g desiccated coconut
- 100g sultanas
- 1/4 tsp of cinnamon
- 1/4 tsp of ground ginger
- 200g ripe banana (approx 2 medium)
- 1/4 tsp of vanilla extract
- 40g of coconut oil
- 40g of honey or maple syrup
- Optional – 2 tbsp of milled linseed
How to make:
- Preheat the oven to 170°c and line a square tray with baking paper.
- In a large mixing bowl, add the oats, coconut, cinnamon, ginger and sultanas (or other dried fruit) and stir together.
- Peel and mash the banana in another bowl until puréed.
- Add the coconut oil, honey (or maple syrup) and vanilla extract to a pan and gently heat until melted.
- Pour the melted ingredients in with the oat mixture, and add the mashed banana. Stir together until completely mixed and a sticky texture starts to form.
- Tip the mixture into the square tray and using the back of a spoon, squash it down to about 1cm in depth and smooth over the top making sure the flapjack is compact.
- Pop in the oven and bake for 30 minutes until golden brown.
- Leave to cool for 5 minutes and then transfer to a wire rack with the bottom facing up, this helps to make the flapjack more firm while it cools. Cut into 12 slices and store in an airtight container.