Soft and Chewy Granola Bars with Sweet Potato

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Healthy chewy oatbran granola bars.  Photography by CJ Baldacchino during a live tv show

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‘These dense, moist and chewy granola bars can be made using your favourite cereal and putting in them exactly what you like.  They are loaded with seeds and I bind them by using a mix of dates and sweet potato.  The chocolate and nut topping is optional.  If you prefer a crunchier texture, cut the granola bake into bars when it cools down and bake them in a hot oven for 12 minutes on each side in the same way you would do with biscotti’

healthy granola bars 3

You will need:

300g dates
150g sweet potato
400g oatbran granola
1 teaspoon mixed spice
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 vanilla pod
50g gogi berries
50g sunflower seeds
50g cocoa powder
100g pumpkin seeds
100g linseed [flaxseed]
30g Chia Seeds

Preheat the oven to 170C.

Spray a baking tin [20cm square or similar] with cooking spray and line it with baking paper.

Remove the stone from the dates and roughly chop them up.

Peel the sweet potato and roughly chop it.

Place the dates and sweet potato in a saucepan and cover with cold water.

Bring to a boil and then reduce the heat and simmer for about 7-10 minutes until the potato is soft and the dates are mushy.  Make sure that there is enough water during this process.

Remove from the heat, puree by using a hand held blender and allow to cool.

In a large mixing bowl mix the granola with the gogi berries, sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds, linseeds and chia seeds.  Add the mixed spice, vanilla and cinnamon.

Mix well so that the mixture is consistent.

Add the date and sweet potato mixture to the granola and seed mix and combine by mixing well.

Place the mixture in the prepared baking tin and use a spatula to press the mixture down.  Then use your clean hands to press down tightly.  Bake in a preheated oven for 25 minutes.  Remove from the oven and allow to cool completely.

Optional topping:

300g dark sugar free chocolate
1 tablespoon olive oil
250g mixed nuts

Chop the nuts roughly and use a very hot pan to dry roast them.

Melt the chocolate in a bain marie or in the microwave.  Add the olive oil and stir until it is smooth and glossy.

Pour the chocolate on to the granola bake and scatted the nuts on top.

Allow to cool and then cut into bars or squares.

You can store them in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 2 weeks and in the freezer for up to 3 months.

        I use Oat Bran Granola by Mornflake at Rimus Group, nuts, spices and seeds by Good Earth, olive oil by Costa D’Oro and sugar-free, lactose-free chocolate by Valor

Vegemince Loaf with Sweet Potato and Oatbran

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Vegemince Loaf with Sweet Potato, a great wholesome weekday meal.  Photo by CJ Baldacchino during a live tv show

‘This vegemince loaf is healthy comfort food and proved to be a crowd pleaser satisfying many dietary requirements.  It is an very quick recipe to prepare and looks amazing when brought to the table.  It is also delicious served cold the next day’

Linda McCarthney's Vegemince

I use vegemince by Linda McCartney Foods to make my Vegemince Loaf with Sweet Potato and Oatbran

You will need:

400g vegemince
1 onion
1 clove garlic
250g tinned chopped tomatoes
150g fine oatbran
4 eggs
1 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest
1/2 teaspoon dried herbs of your choice
1 sweet potato
Butter Flavour Cooking Spray
some fresh mint leaves for garnish
Salt and Pepper to season
Large Loaf tin [900g]
baking paper

Use a spray oil to coat a large frying pan.  Chop finely the onion and garlic and cook in the pan over low heat, stirring frequently until the onion becomes translucent.

Add the vegemince and cook for a few minutes then add the tinned chopped tomatoes, and dried herbs.  Simmer over low heat for 5 minutes.  Remove from heat.

In the meantime beat the eggs in a bowl and season with salt and pepper. Prepare the loaf tin by covering with baking paper.

Add the oatbran to the vegemince mix and then the eggs. Combine and add the lemon zest. Pour the batter into the lined loaf tin and press down with a wooden spoon.

Wash the sweet potato and chop into thin slices with skin on. Arrange over the top of the loaf tin and press down again. Spray with butter flavoured cooking spray and use a brush to spread all over. Bake in a preheated oven for 35 minutes. Allow to cool slightly before removing from the loaf tin by easing it out of the tin by pulling the baking paper. Place on a serving dish and garnish with fresh mint leaves.

 

Trade Enquiries:

Rimus Group for Linda MacCartney Food, X-Tra Polpa and Tomato Products, Fry Light Cooking Spray and Mornflake Stoneground Oat Bran

Good Earth  for dried herbs and spices

Big Fresh in Mosta for fresh fruit, eggs and vegetables

Deyma Shop Gzira: Table

Loft Naxxar: Tableware

Tescoma: Kitchenware

AMC: Baking paper and disposables

Lea’s Good Food Everyday is available in most bookshops and via Midsea Books

Quick No-bake Easter Treats

‘No celebration is complete without a sweet treat. Here are a few quick and easy chocolate recipes that require no baking that will be a hit for Easter. ‘

Carrot and date coconut balls

1 large carrot, grated
A pod of vanilla
2 cups oats
1/2 cup dates
A pinch of salt
1/4 cup mixed chopped almonds and Pistachios (optional)
A pinch of cinnamon
A grating of fresh nutmeg
A pinch of mixed spice
Grated zest of a tangerine
Water
2 cups coconut for rolling the balls

In a saucepan, place the dates and grated carrot. Add 1/4 cup of water, the spices and grated citrus zest and allow the dates to break down on low heat. Add more water, a few tablespoons at a time, if necessary, and do not allow the mixture to dry up. When the dates are soft and mushy turn off the heat, mix and allow to cool.

In a large bowl place the oats, add the vanilla and then add the cooled down date and carrot mixture. Add the chopped nuts (optional) and mix until the consistency is even.

Use a melon scoop to measure out the balls. Shape them lightly in your hands and roll in coconut. Place on a tray covered with baking paper and, if you are making them last minute, place them in the freezer to set quickly.

Chocolate Nests

100g chocolate
50g butter
1 tbsp honey
150g Cornflakes, organic and gluten-free
An assortment of mini Easter eggs

Quick and effective, these gluten and dairy free chocolate nests can be prepared last minute and frozen until needed, then decorated with mini Easter eggs.

I use gluten free organic cornflakes and dairy-free chocolate with no added sugar.

Break up the chocolate and place it in a large bowl with the butter and honey.

Place the bowl on a simmering bowl of water (bain marie) making sure it does not touch the water. Stir the ingredients until the chocolate and butter melt and it appears consistent.

Remove the bowl from the heat and add the cornflakes. Mix until the cornflakes are all coated with the chocolate mix.

Prepare a muffin tin with muffin cases, or line the whole tin and cavities with cling film.

Divide the mixture into the 12 spaces and use a spoon to press down and make an indentation in the middle of each chocolate nest.

Put in fridge for a couple of hours. Peel off the muffin cases or cling film. Arrange the nests on a decorative plate and place the mini Easter eggs in each nest.

Baci

2 packets gluten-free, plain biscuits
4 tbsp cocoa powder
100g crushed hazelnuts
50g whole hazelnuts
2 tbsp ground hazelnuts
3 tbsp honey
2 tbsp brandy/rum
100ml coconut milk
200g melting chocolate
4 tbsp coconut

Our Easter meal nearly always finishes with Baci, either the delicious store-bought ones all the way from Perugia, or homemade ones made with condensed milk. My recipe has reduced sugar and reduced fat and contains no condensed milk.

They still taste marvellous and you would not know the difference. They are also gluten-free!

Crush the biscuits very finely. In a bowl, mix together the biscuits, cocoa powder, crushed hazelnuts, coconut, honey, rum and skimmed milk. Mix well.

Bind the mixture into very small balls. On top of every ball put a hazelnut.

Leave to set for four hours before you cover using the melting chocolate. Cool down quickly and allow to set in the freezer.

Rocky Road

135 g butter
300 g dark chocolate
4 tbsp agave
250 g Digestive biscuits
100 g marshmallows
100g Smarties, or M&Ms
100g milk chocolate
Chocolate confetti

This mix of chocolate, marshmallows and biscuits is a firm favourite with children and a great occasional treat.

Melt the butter, dark chocolate, carob syrup and golden syrup in a saucepan.

Put the biscuits into a plastic bag and crush them roughly with a rolling pin, so that there is a mix of pieces and crumbs.

Mix the biscuit pieces into the melted chocolate mixture, and then add the marshmallows and mix.

Tip into a tin foil tray (24cm / 9 inch square) lined with cling film. Melt the milk chocolate and drizzle over the top. Scatter the Smarties or M&Ms over the surface, followed by the chocolate confetti.

Place in freezer if using on the same day (or overnight in the fridge).

Cut into fingers before serving.

Lea’s Good Food Everyday is available via Midsea Books

Trade Enquiries:  Rimus Group  for President Butter

Easter Biscuits with Oatbran and dried blueberries

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Easter Biscuits with Oatbran by #Mornflake, photography  CJ Baldacchino during a live tv show

You will need:

200g butter
150g raw cane sugar or 1/2 cup stevia
2 egg yolks
300g plain flour
100g oatbran
150g dried blueberries
1 teaspoon mixed spice
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
vanilla
1/2 teaspoon grated lime zest
water if needed to bind the dough

Preheat oven to 170C.

Line an ovenproof dish with baking paper and use a cooking spray to lightly coat it.

Place the butter and sugar into a food mixer and beat until the mixture is light and fluffy. Add the egg yolks and mix again. Sieve the flour twice and add the spices, oatbran, vanilla, lime zest and a pinch of salt. Add to the mixing bowl and use a low speed until the mixture forms a dough. Add the blueberries and pulse the mixer a few times to combine them into the dough.

Lightly dredge a clean surface with flour and use a rolling pin to roll out the dough to a thickness of about 4 cm. Use a cutter to cut into rounds and place the biscuits on the baking tray. Brush with some egg white and spring some more caster sugar and mixed spice. Bake in a preheated oven for 20 minutes until they are a pale gold. Allow them to cool before removing them from the baking tray.

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Lea’s Good Food Everyday is available via Midsea Books

Trade Enquiries: Mornflake Oatbran Products are available from Rimus Group