Strawberry and Coconut Energy Bars

strawberry-coconut-flapjacks

I took part in a 78-mile cycling event yesterday and, although I’d bought a Bounce Energy Ball and a Clif Bar to take with me, because I’ve got a bigger cycling event coming up in a couple of weeks and a) shop-bought products are expensive (the Bounce Energy Ball was £1-something and the Clif Bar was a smidge under £2); and b) I wanted to try a variety of different energy bars to see which I liked best, I wanted to make some of my own.

These strawberry and coconut energy bars are based on this Sunshine Bars recipe and they got me happily through 63 miles of cycling. I then had the Clif Bar, felt sick and abandoned the last twenty miles of the ride and got the train home instead. There’s something to be said for the ‘never try anything new on race day’ advice. But if you want something homemade with the right nutrients to get you through a long sporting event (don’t confuse protein bars with energy bars – protein bars contain a high amount of protein and are best after exercise to help repair the muscles, whereas energy bars contain a high amount of carbohydrate to fuel your muscles during exercise), these bars are for you. They taste amazing, too. I used dried strawberries from Urban Fruit because their dried fruit contains fruit and nothing else. I was shocked a few weeks ago after buying a bag of dried cranberries, to find out that cranberries were only about 40% of the ingredients.

Unfortunately, they’re not vegan, as most rice crispies contain Vitamin D, which is made from lanolin – a secretion from sheep skin, found in wool (and now I’ve just typed ‘a secretion from sheep skin’, I feel as sick as if I’d just eaten another Clif Bar) and I also bunged in a bag of Munchy Seeds honey-roasted pumpkin and sunflower seeds that I had lying around in the fruit bowl that never contains fruit. However, vegans need not despair – after finding out that all major supermarkets’ own rice crispies contain Vitamin D, I’ve found a vegan-friendly brand: Kallo Organic Wholegrain Breakfast Puffs, that you can get from Ocado or Holland & Barrett.

Strawberry and coconut energy bars

Strawberry and Coconut Energy Bars
 
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Author:
Recipe type: Energy Bars
Serves: 9
Ingredients
  • 50g dried strawberries or other dried fruit, chopped
  • 50g porridge oats
  • 25g puffed rice cereal
  • 40g desiccated coconut
  • 25g cashews or other nuts, chopped
  • 25g sunflower and/or pumpkin seeds
  • 50g demerara sugar
  • 60g Golden Syrup
  • 50g butter or spread
Instructions
  1. Mix the fruit, oats, cereal, nuts, seeds and coconut into a large bowl and mix well
  2. Gently heat the sugar, syrup and butter/spread in a saucepan until the butter has melted, then simmer for a couple of minutes
  3. Stir the syrupy mixture into the dry mix and combine thoroughly
  4. Tip into a 8" square tin and press down firmly (I do this by putting a piece of baking paper over the mixture, then rolling a tin backwards and forwards on top of it)
  5. Bake in the oven at 180C for about ten minutes, or until lightly browning at the edges
  6. Leave to cool, then put in the fridge for a couple of hours to firm up
  7. Cut into 9 pices

 


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Recipe: Easy Vegan Gingerbread Men

Vegan gingerbread men

As you know, I’m not a great cake or cookie person (actually, that’s a lie – I love cookies, I just don’t like making them because then I see exactly what goes into them and then I’m thinking HOW MANY CALORIES?)

But then Discount Supplements asked me to make something healthy for Christmas, using one of their products. They gave me a list of recipes to choose from and I chose the vegan gingerbread men because a) it looked the easiest; and b) I fancied playing with men-shaped cookie cutters.

Vegan gingerbread man and hot chocolate
Yes, those are vegan marshmallows in the hot chocolate

I didn’t quite follow the provided recipe (and when I say ‘quite’, I mean ‘disregarded 99% of it’) so this recipe is how I made the gingerbread men, using the ingredients I had available (e.g. I used applesauce as an egg replacer instead of a flax egg, wholemeal flour instead of gluten-free flour and Golden Syrup instead of molasses).

I’m not sure I’ve ever had a gingerbread man before (not sure I’ve had a ginger man before – bread or otherwise, actually, but let’s not go there, eh?) so I don’t know if these are how they’re supposed to be, but if gingerbread men are supposed to be crispy on the outside and soft in the middle, then I’m the boss at making gingerbread men.

Vegan gingerbread men

Recipe: Easy Vegan Gingerbread Men
 
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Author:
Cuisine: Vegan
Serves: 15
Ingredients
  • 350g wholemeal flour
  • 1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
  • 2 tsp ground ginger
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 125g dairy-free spread
  • 175g demerara sugar
  • ¼ cup applesauce
  • 4 tbsp Golden Syrup
  • ⅛ cup almond butter
Instructions
  1. Preheat the oven to 180C and line two baking trays with greaseproof paper.
  2. Put the flour, bicarbonate of soda, ginger and cinnamon into a food processor. Add the butter and blend until the mix looks like breadcrumbs. Stir in the sugar.
  3. Beat the applesauce, Golden Syrup and almond butter together, add to the food processor and pulse until the mixture clumps together. Tip the dough out and knead until smooth. Wrap the dough in clingfilm and leave in the fridge for 15 minutes.
  4. Lightly flour a chopping board or worktop and roll out the dough to a thickness of about 0.5cm.
  5. Using cookie cutters, cut out the gingerbread men shapes and place on the baking tray, leaving a gap between them.
  6. Bake for about 13 minutes, or until a light golden-brown.
  7. Leave on the tray for 10 minutes, then cool on a wire rack.
  8. Either use a skewer to make eyes and buttons, or decorate with icing.

Thanks to Discount Supplements for supplying me with the almond butter used in this recipe.

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Recipe: Quick & Easy Vegan Flapjacks

Vegan flapjacks

What I really fancied making yesterday were the chilli cheese flapjacks I made a while back. I wanted to veganise them though and wondered if swapping the cheese for Violife vegan cheese and the butter for Vitalite dairy-free spread would work but then when it came to replacing the eggs, I doubted if applesauce (which can be used to replace eggs in cakes, muffins and other bready stuff) would do the trick. I don’t know why I thought this as I’m no scientist but it sounded dubious so I decided against it. [It has just occurred to me while typing this, that chia seeds would have been a good replacement but I didn’t have any in and I wouldn’t have spent £7, or whatever they cost, on a packet just to make some flapjacks anyway.]

Vegan flapjacks

But, I still wanted to make some flapjacks and although I knew vegan ones wouldn’t be as good as the ones my friend Cassie makes (hers are full-on dairy and completely delicious if a tad unhealthy. When I say ‘tad’, I obviously mean, ‘totally’), I reckoned they’d do to quash my craving.

Vegan flapjacks

These flapjacks are quick and easy to make and are oaty, buttery and moist, just like a flapjack should be. I reckon next time, I’ll double the quantities and make them thicker.

Vegan flapjacks

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Quick & Easy Vegan Flapjacks
 
Prep time
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Author:
Cuisine: Vegan
Serves: 9
Ingredients
  • 125g porridge oats
  • 60g dairy-free spread (I used Vitalite)
  • 60g brown sugar
  • 2 tbsp Golden Syrup
Instructions
  1. Melt the dairy-free spread in a saucepan, stir in the rest of the ingredients, then press firmly into an 8" square tin.
  2. Bake in the oven at 180C for about 15 minutes, or until the edges are turning brown.
  3. Score gently, then leave to cool.
  4. Cut into 9 pieces.


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Vegan Crunchie Pieces

honeycomb

I’ve no idea why over the last few days, I’ve had an urge to make honeycomb. But I did have an urge and urges must be listened to, I reckon (well, not all urges, obviously, but honeycomb is harmless enough).

As I didn’t have a clue how to make honeycomb, I did a bit of Googling and saw it was ridiculously quick and easy and I had all the ingredients in the cupboard, so away I went.

My first batch was a disaster. When you add the bicarbonate of soda, it goes mental. Dooby dooby nutjob mental. Make sure you use the biggest saucepan you can find otherwise this will happen.

honeycomb-boiling-over

I’d left it to boil too long, too, and it was a burnt sticky mess but although it was a burnt sticky mess, it was still alive. I’d created a monster.

After it finally died, I threw it in the bin and started again.

This time, I used a much bigger pan (a casserole dish) and didn’t leave it to boil for so long, just 2-3 minutes. As you can see, it’s a much nicer colour and far less volcanic.

After it had set, it looked like a piece of honeycomb toast.

honeycomb-toast

I broke it into pieces, covered it in chocolate, put it on a wire rack and left it to set in the fridge and now I can’t stop eating it. Seriously, it’s soooooooooooooooooooo good. Make sure you have a bowl of hot water ready to dunk the whisk and saucepan into, that way they’ll rinse clean in seconds.

vegan-crunchie-pieces

Vegan Crunchie Pieces

100g sugar
2 tablespoons Golden Syrup
1 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda

  1. Heat the sugar and Golden Syrup in a massive pan slowly until the sugar has dissolved.
  2. Leave to boil for 2-3 minutes (do not stir at all) until the mixture is a golden colour.
  3. Remove from the heat and whisk in the bicarbonate of soda. It will foam up massively, but this is normal. Do not be scared.
  4. Pour into a tray lined with baking parchment and leave to set.
  5. Once set, break into pieces and coat with melted chocolate.
  6. Leave to set on a wire rack in the fridge.
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