Homemade energy bars and bliss balls

Photos: Marconia Schembri, Stefan Stafrace, Illumina Media, Felix Cesare

Photo George Aquilina during a live tv show

There are so many varieties of energy bars on the market today with whole sections in supermarkets filled with them. The different choices are overwhelming and some provide energy while others may be classed as low carb or high in protein. Most of them satisfy current food trends.

Dried fruit bars became fashionable when they were marketed to a sports audience in the 1960s and 1970s and they have evolved to become a quick meal replacement or possibly the most popular snack food today.

Making your own bars means that you can choose to use ingredients that you like. They require little or no cooking and you just need to make sure that your dried fruits are plump and the nuts you are using are fresh. If the dates, figs or prunes are on the small side, then you may need to add a few extra ones.

There is no magic formula like baking. Grind the ingredients very well so that they blend easily together and hold shape.

Energy bars can be stored in an airtight container and kept in the fridge or a cool place for around three weeks. Most of them freeze very well.

 

Ingredients I use in these recipes:

Maca Powder: the extract of a Peruvian plant best known for improving energy levels and vitality
Aronia: also known as chokeberry and can be found locally as a dried fruit or in liquid and powder concentrate.  It contains high antioxidants and is known to have many beneficial properties
Hemp Seeds: hard brown seeds with a light inner kernel that provide a good source of amino acids, protein and omega-3 fatty acids.

Carrot date bars with Maca powder

1 large carrot
a pod of vanilla
¼ tsp Maca powder
2 cups oats
1/2 cup dates
a pinch of salt
1/4 cup mixed chopped almonds and pistachio nuts
a pinch of cinnamon
a grating of fresh nutmeg
grated zest of 1 tangerine
water

Photo Illumina Media during a  live tv show

Preheat the oven to 170°C. Wash and grate the carrot.

In a saucepan placed the dates and grated carrot. Add 1/4 cup of water, the cinnamon, nutmeg and grated citrus zest. Allow the dates to break down on low heat. Add more water, a few tbsps at a time, if necessary. Do not let the mixture dry up. When the dates are soft and mushy turn off the heat and allow to cool down. In a large bowl place the oats, add the vanilla and Maca powder, then add the date and carrot mixture. Mix until the consistency is even.

Line a loaf tin with baking paper. Press down the mixture and use a spoon dipped in water to press it down until it is compact. Top with chopped nuts and press down again using the wet spoon.

Bake in the oven for 10 minutes.

Leave in the fridge overnight.

The next day, remove from the loaf tin by pulling the baking paper out gently and cut into bars using a sharp knife.

Chewy granola bars with hemp seeds

2 cups oats
1 cup nuts of your choice
12 pitted dates
3 tbsp coconut oil
Vanilla
1 cup coconut
¼ cup raisins
1 tbsp hemp seeds
½ tsp cinnamon
Grated zest of 1 lemon
Pinch of salt
Preheat the oven to 160°C.

Photo Illumina Media during alive tv show

Place the oats in a food processor and add the chopped nuts, pitted dates and the rest of the ingredients. Pulse to process, until you have a consistent but textured paste. Line a 20cm cake or pie dish with baking paper.

Bring the mixture together with your hands and place in the fridge for 15 minutes.

Firmly press down the mixture into the cake or pie dish. Make sure that the surface is level and that all the dish is equally covered. Wet your fingers with water and tap the surface gently all over again. Bake in a preheated oven for 15 minutes. Remove and, after it cools down, leave in the fridge overnight. Lift it out by pulling the baking paper and place it on a cutting board. Use a sharp knife to cut bars.

Sweet potato balls with ginger

Photo Stefan Stafrace during a live tv show

2 large sweet potatoes
3 cups coconut
5 tbsp agave
1/2 packet apricots
1/2 vanilla pod
1 cup shredded carrots
some freshly grated nutmeg
¼ tsp ginger powder
1 pinch of mixed spice
grated zest of an orange
To cover: 2 cups coconut or coarsely ground oats

These balls can turn out to be bright yellow or a creamy colour, depending on the variety of sweet potato you are using.

Cook the sweet potato with skin on in the microwave and allow to cool. Peel and mash very well with a fork until the mixture is consistent.

Mix all the ingredients together. Use a hand blender to make a smooth paste. Leave in the refrigerator for at least an hour. Form balls and roll in coconut or ground oats. Leave in the fridge overnight before serving.

Fig and date Balls with aronia

Photo Stefan Stafrace during a live tv show

2 cups pitted dates
2 cups coconut
1 cup figs
1/2 cup raisins
1/4 cup sesame seeds
1/4 cup grated citrus zest. (I used local tangerines)
1/2 cup agave
1/2 cup chopped almonds
2 tbsp aronia, liquid
1/8 cup unsweetened fruit juice of your choice
For rolling balls: 2 cups sesame seeds and 2 cups coconut in separate containers

Roughly chop the dates and figs into small pieces.

Place all the ingredients in a food processor and blend until the consistency is smooth. Add water if the mixture is too dry, a tablespoon at a time.

Line two flat dishes with a baking sheet and place the sesame seeds in one container and coconut in the other container.

Use a teaspoon to form equal-sized balls and roll with your hands.

Roll the balls in the sesame seeds and coconut and store and place on a dish lined with baking paper. Leave for a few hours to set and dry out and then store in an airtight container.

 

Maca Powder and Hemp Seeds are available via Good Earth.  Aronia is available via J Calleja Import Export Ltd

Kwarezimal by Devon


You will find Renato’s recipe for Kwarezimal using Honey and Almond Cookies by Devon on the Times of Malta.
honey almond cookies

Seasonal sweets – timesofmalta.com

no bake cardamon cookiesYou can find more of my festive recipes in today’s Sunday Times’

Source: Seasonal sweets – timesofmalta.com

Making Christmas Special – timesofmalta.com

‘You will find some of my easy Christmas recipes in today’s Sunday Times.’

Source: Making Christmas Special – timesofmalta.com

Raw Carrot Gluten Free Coconut Balls

‘Sweet potatoes are grown locally and they are becoming more popular as an ingredient.  The variety we used for this recipe had white flesh and if you use sweet potato with yellow flesh instead, the coconut balls will be a brighter yellow.  There are so many varieties of sweet potato and I believe our white ones here are known as the ‘Hannah’ variety.’

fit for a queen carrot

During the kids corner in the kitchen, they made Carrot Coconut Balls

For the Carrot Coconut balls you will need:

3 cups of sweet potato, cooked and mashed
3 cups coconut
5 tablespoons honey
1/2 packet apricots
1/2 vanilla pod
1 cup shredded carrots
a grating of nutmeg
a pinch of ginger
1 pinch of mixed spice
grated zest of an orange
And
2 cups coconut to cover

Mix all the ingredients together. Use a hand blender to make a smooth paste. Leave in the refridgerator for at least an hour. Form balls and roll in coconut. Leave in the fridge overnight before serving.

I use spices and vanilla by Good Earth, honey by 3 leaves and vegetables and fruit by Big Fresh Mosta

Fit for a Queen

‘Coconut balls are so popular at Christmas here and we made a variety of gluten free balls during our show.  We used mashed potato to make a few batches and also some dark chocolate and tahini coconut cake pops.’

fit for a queen blog 2

A selection of Coconut Balls, Lifestyle&Co TVM2 every afternoon

For the White Tropical Coconut Balls you will need:
3 cups mashed potato
3 cups coconut
5 tablespoons honey
1/2 packet of dried pineapple
1/2 vanilla pod
grated zest of 1/2 lemon
a pinch of cinnamon
2 cups coconut to finish off the balls

Mix all the ingredients together. Blend to a puree using a hand blender. Leave the mixture in the fridge for an hour. Form balls and roll in coconut. Leave in the fridge for a few hours or overnight before serving.

For the chocolate Coconut balls you will need:
3 cups mashed potato
3 cups coconut
1/2 cup cocoa powder
3 tablespoons honey
150g dates
half a pod vanilla
1/4 teaspoon mixed spice
And to cover: 2 cups coconut

Mix all the ingredients together. Make into a puree using an electric hand blender. Place the mixture in the fridge for an hour or 2. Shape into balls and roll in coconut. Refridgerate overnight preferably.

For the Chocolate Tahini Cake Pops with coconut you will need:

3 cups self raising flour
1 cup cocoa powder
1/2 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1 cup tahini with chocolate, I used prepacked
1 cup stevia
a few drops good vanilla extract
4 eggs
Enough water to add to the batter for dropping consistency, keep aside
1 spoon sesame seeds to sprinkle on the surface before baking

Sieve the flour and cocoa powder in a large bowl and the bicarbonate of soda and baking powder. Give a good stir to mix in the ingredients to an even consistency.

In a separate bowl place the eggs, tahini with chocolate (I use a shop bought mix) and the rest of the ingredients. Use a hand blender to make a puree.

Add the liquid mix into the dry ingredients and fold in using a large metal spoon. Add 2 spoons of water at a time until the mixture achieves a dropping consistency (a thick consistency that drops off the spoon).

Pour the batter into a 23cm springform cake dish with a film of non stick baking spray. Bake in a preheated oven at 170C for 35 minute. Check the center by piercing with a skewer.

Allow to cool completely. Break up the cake. Add 2 tablespooons of tahini with chocolate and 2 cups of coconut. Refridgerate for an hour. Form balls and roll them in two cups of coconut. Place in the fridge for another hour. Melt some dark chocolate and dip the balls in the dark chocolate. Place them on a dish covered with baking paper. Allow to cool and refridgerate until it is time to serve.

fit for a queen blog 1

Which were Brian’s favourite ones? Lifestyle&Co, every afternoon TVM2, Cakestand available at Paperparties, Lea’s clothes: Punt Roma, Styling: Rodianne Borg, Hair: Maria Genovese at Vogue Hair by Maria, Nails: Diane Ghiller

You can watch us every afternoon via live streaming

Coconut Chocolate Bakes, no added refined sugar, no added fats

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This bake contains no butter and no added refined sugar.  You will need:

  • 200g flour
  • 100g  coconut
  • 125g ricotta
  • 2 tablespoons agave
  • 2 drops good vanilla extract
  • grated zest of half an orange
  • 1 egg
  • cold water
  • 200g dark chocolate and 1/2 tablespoon olive oil to decorate plus roasted chopped almonds (optional)

coconut and ricotta bakes with  chocolate

Preheat the oven to 170C.  Sieve the flour.  Add the ricotta/  Rub it into the flour using your fingertips.  Add the coconut and honey and mix well.  Add the other ingredients except the water and egg and mix.  Now add the beaten egg and mix using a knife.  Add the cold water, starting with three spoons and mix and then add a spoon at a time until you form a dough. Wrap in cling film and leave in the fridge for half an hour.  Cut small pieces of dough and press into the almond shaped non stick moulds.  Flatten the surface.  Bake in preheated oven for 20 minutes. Remove from oven and place on a wire rack to cool down. Melt the chocolate and add half a spoon of olive oil.  Place in a small jug.. Hold the jug firmly and drizzle the chocolate over the bakes moving your arm quickly backwards and forwards until they are uniformly and neatly decorated.

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They are soft and moist.

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My kitchenware comes from Tescoma, flour and baking goods from St George’s Brand, chocolate by Valor.

Coffee Mug Almond Cookies

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My kitchen utensils come from Tescoma

You do need the right cutters for these cookies but I think they are such a good idea, just to serve something different :). You can also cut out an incision in the dough before baking to accommodate for the cookies to hang on the rim of your mug. I these are cookies, I wanted a cakey cookie texture and used self raising flour instead of all purpose. The slighted roasted taste of the balanced almonds is delicious .

You will need :

1 cup butter softened
1 cup sugar
2 cups self raising flour
Grated zest of 1/4 lemon
Blanched almonds for the top
Water to bind the dough

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In a bowl place the sifted flour and butter. Rub in until it resembles fine breadcrumbs. Add the sugar, lemon zest and mix. Add enough water, 3 spoonfuls at a time until the dough comes together and it is a good consistency.

Keep in the fridge for half an hour. Roll out on a floured surface. Cut out the cookies and press the almonds into the surface. Bake at 170 C for 20 minutes or until the surface starts to turn a golden brown. Do not overlook as you want a soft interior.

Push the cookies out of the moulds once they have cooled down. Serve.

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Ginger Crescent Cookies for Christmas

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Light textured ginger crescents , another straightforward easy recipe that I baked today …

You will need:

2 cups butter
1 1/2 cups icing sugar
3 teaspoons ginger powder
A few drops vanilla
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon mixed spice
2 eggs
4 1/2 cups flour

For coating:
2 cups Icing sugar
2 teaspoons ginger

If you wish to decorate:

100g white chocolate buttons
Golden and bronze sprinkles, gold sugar

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Preheat oven to 180C
Cream the butter and icing sugar. Add the eggs and mix until consistent.
Stir in flour, spices, vanilla and mix in. Bring the dough together.
Place in the fridge for half an hour.
Form balls. For a crescent shape by pressing your thumb in the middle.
Place about 1 inch apart on oven dish covered with baking paper.
Bake for 15 minutes.
Roll warm cookies in icing sugar mixed with the rest of the ginger.
Cool on wire rack.
Roll in icing sugar again.

To decorate:
Melt the white chocolate.
Put a small drop of chocolate on to of the crescent.
Scatter sprinkles before the chocolate cools.

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Mincemeat with dark chocolate bits

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I really like this mincemeat filling with dark chocolate pieces.  I use vegetable suet and this is mincemeat that you can use straight away without maturing.  You will need:

500g currants
500g raisins
500g sultanas
250g apples, peeled and cored
200g chopped almonds
1 lemon, juice and zest
100g vegetable suet
4 tablespoons brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon mixed spice
1/2 teaspoon ginger
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2teaspoon nutmeg
100g Grated dark chocolate
Pinch of Salt
6 tablespoons brandy

Thoroughly mix everything well in a large bowl. You can use this mincemeat immediately without leaving to mature !

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