Recipes, Snacks, Sweet treats

Christmas gingerbread biscuits

Time to get into the festive season! If you’re anything like me, whilst you’re enjoying the excitement, school performances and parties, you may be getting a little overwhelmed by the amount of sugar, refined carbohydrates and processed foods being offered to your children… But Christmas is a celebration, and eating treats really is a part of it, I really don’t believe in any food being completely off limits (within reason of course!) so I wanted to share a recipe with you that ticks a lot of the boxes when it comes to enjoying treats in moderation.

These biscuits are made with:

  • Wholemeal spelt flour – higher in nutrients than refined white flour, and slower to digest thus reducing the sugar spike.
  • Unrefined sugar – again, slightly slower to release it’s glucose, and also still retaining some lovely minerals to support overall health.
  • Black Strap Molasses – did you know that this is actually a rich source of iron and calcium?
  • Cinnamon – helps to naturally balance blood sugar levels
  • Raw cacao – this retains its healthy antioxidants in a way that processed chocolate bars just don’t
  • Natural fruits, nuts and seeds – beautiful and healthy at the same time

Biscuit recipe:
(makes about 20)

Ingredients:

  • 350g wholemeal spelt flour
  • 1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
  • 2 tsp ground ginger
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 125g unsalted butter
  • 150g unrefined sugar (I used Biona Rapadura, Billingtons also make unrefined cane sugar or you could use coconut palm sugar)
  • 1 egg
  • 4 tbsp black strap molasses

Method:

  1. Mix together the flour, bicarb, ginger and cinnamon and put into a food processor. Add the butter and blend until well-mixed and resembling fine breadcrumbs, then stir in the sugar.
  2. Lightly beat the egg and treacle together, slowly add to the food processor and pulse until the mixture clumps together. Tip the dough out on a floured surface, and knead lightly into a ball. Place in a covered bowl in the fridge, and chill for at least 15 minutes
  3. Preheat the oven to 180C and line two baking trays with greaseproof paper.
  4. Roll the dough out on a lightly floured surface to a 5mm thickness, then using cutters, cut out the biscuits and place them on the baking trays.
  5. Bake for 12-15 minutes, until golden brown. Leave on the tray for 10 minutes and then move to a wire rack to finish cooling.

 For the chocolate buttercream:

  • 50g unsalted butter
  • 50g maple syrup
  • 50g raw cocao powder
  • 1tsp vanilla paste
  • 1-3tsp milk
  • To decorate: Dried fruit such as cranberries, desiccated coconut, seeds such as sunflower seeds, nuts

 Method:

  1. Blend together the butter, maple syrup and vanilla paste using a mixer, then slowly add the cocoa bit by bit, adding in some milk if needed for consistency and texture. The buttercream needs to be reasonably thin in order to be easily piped.
  2. Once the biscuits are cooled, decorate using the chocolate buttercream and toppings. I used cranberries, desiccated coconut and sunflower seeds

I hope you enjoy baking them, with your little ones or without, and please leave me a comment if you like them!

Lunchboxes, Recipes, Snacks, Sweet treats

Chocolate courgette brownies

Cakes are a great way to sneak veggies into kids right? And ourselves, not to forget – I’m all about maximising the nutrients from my calories. We’re coming to the end of the courgette season now, but I’ve had a bit of a glut in the final weeks so this was a great way to use some up in a batch. Most of the brownies have gone into the freezer, ready for a quick dessert or to add to a lunchbox.

Ingredients:

  • 120g softened unsalted butter or coconut oil
  • 125ml olive oil
  • 200g rapadura (unrefined sugar cane) or coconut sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla bean paste
  • 3 eggs, lightly beaten
  • 125ml milk or dairy-free milk (I used oat milk)
  • 350g wholemeal spelt flour (or gluten free flour)
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 4 tbsp cocoa powder
  • 450g courgettes, peeled & finely grated
  • 50g hemp seed hearts
  • 70g dark choc chips (optional)

Method:

  1. Preheat the oven to 190C (fan), and grease and line a 20 x 35 cms baking tin
  2. Put the butter / coconut oil and olive oil in a bowl, add the rapadura (or sugar) and vanilla bean paste and beat until well combined and fluffy (the colour will lighten) – I use an electric mixer for this.
  3. Add the eggs gradually whilst mixing, following each with a tbsp flour to help prevent them curdling, then add the milk and combine well.
  4. Sift the flour, baking powder and cocoa powder into the bowl and gently stir in, then finally add the grated courgette, help seed hearts and dark choc chips (if using) and fold gently together.
  5. Pour the mixture into the baking tray and lightly smooth for an even distribution. Top with some extra 100% cocoa dark choc chips to make Insta-worthy (but cause loud objections from your children) and bake for approx 40 mins until a skewer comes out clean.
  6. Cool in the tin, then turn out, chop into bite-sized pieces and enjoy. They are delicious served warm with a little ice cream or frozen yogurt, but also nice cold (easier to remove any offensive 100% cocoa chips from the top!)

Please do leave me a note to let me know what you think of these! I love the hemp seeds for extra texture (and nutrients – a great source of omega 3), and using the chocolate chips gives it a more authentic brownie decadence but actually adds a few extra antioxidants too. These have definitely stopped the kids lunchboxes looking “too healthy” but they’re a treat I’m very happy to see eaten with joy!

Lunchboxes, Recipes, Savoury, Snacks

Homemade hummus

Hummus has to be a lunchbox staple for us, the kids love it, and it’s the perfect dip for a whole host of veggies from carrots and cucumbers, to peppers, beans and celery. Whilst it’s readily available, store-bought versions can contain inferior sources of fats and include unnecessary preservatives, plus the tendency is to go through hundreds of throw-away plastic tubs.  It’s actually very easy to make, and once you get the hang of it you can add other nutritious ingredients like peppers or beetroot or avocado…

Ingredients:

  • 1 400g can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
  • 4 tsp tahini
  • 1 garlic clove, crushed
  • 4 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • juice ½ lemon
  • pinch cumin or paprika
  • 3-4 tbsp water

Method:

Put all ingredients in a food processor and blend. Add a little more water if the consistency is too thick, and season with salt and pepper to taste. Serve with veg sticks or oat cakes, on or off the picnic blanket!