Simple Nut & Seed Granola for Nutty Granola Addicts (Like Me...)

Who doesn't love a bowl of crunchy granola, creamy yogurt and fresh berries? I could eat one any time of day. Like actually. 
This granola is for the simple-hearted (or at least, when you're craving a classic granola!). There are no funky flavors, no trendy twists, no superfood surprises. Instead, this boasts pure, unadulterated nuttiness enhanced by cinnamon, nutmeg, vanilla and maple. Almond butter and coconut oil are mild, yet flavorful wet ingredients that allow for the *oomph* crunch factor that this granola has. 

This recipe is super customisable to your nut & seed preferences, but I wouldn't go so far as to add dried fruit or too many other flavorings, as although it may (okay, probably will) still be delicious, it will lose its charm as a simple, classic granola. The best part about the simplicity means you can get totally creative with what you pair this granola with. 
Here's how I like to build my 'nola bowls:
I love the thick creamy texture of yogurt and most often use greek yogurt (Fage is my go-to brand - full fat all the way!). Next best are Skyr or coconut yogurt. Any dairy or non-dairy milk works too but I would pour these on at the end rather than use them as the "base"!


I tend to pile on the granola next. And loooaaaads of it. Because go hard or go home, eh?


No 'nola bowl is complete without fruit. 90% of the time I use fresh fruit, but if I don't have any on hand or if absolutely nothing good is in season, I use homemade peach or berry compote. If fresh fruit, I use some combination of the following - berries, peaches/nectarines, apricots and/or bananas.

The "extras"

These really just take your bowl to the next level. Toppings I frequently use include chia seeds, cacao nibs, nut butter (holla to the nut buttah), shredded coconut, Brazil nuts and blanched & toasted almonds.
Feel free to get even more extravagant, but this is all I got for you.
And don't forget to think further than granola bowls - this can be used as an ice cream topping, a super quick deconstructed crumble topping and of course, for straight-up snacking!

It's super simple, super quick and insanely addictive. But granola addictions are allowed, right?
Go. Go now. Go make it.

2 cups of whole rolled oats
1 1/3 cups of mixed raw nuts, chopped coarsely (I used a mix of cashews, pecans, walnuts and pistachios)
2 tbsp sunflower seeds
2 tbsp pumpkin seeds
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
pinch of salt
3 tbsp white almond butter
4 tbsp coconut oil, melted
4-5 tbsp pure maple syrup 

Preheat the oven to 160°C. Low(er) and slow(er) is the way forward here! 

Place the oats on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper and bake for 10 minutes.

Meanwhile, roughly chop the buys. Very roughly! Big and chunky is key.

In a small saucepan, melt together the almond butter, maple syrup, coconut oil and vanilla. Let cool.

Once the oats have slightly toasted, remove them from the oven and let them sit for 5 minutes. Then pour them into a large mixing bowl and stir in the nuts, seeds, spices and salt. Finally, mix in the wet ingredients until the oats and nuts are all coated. 

Pour the mixture back on the sheet lined with parchment, spread it apart and bake for 20 minutes, stirring once or twice in between at regular intervals. Do keep a close eye past 15 minutes as this can go from golden brown to burnt in a matter of seconds. If the mixture hasn't browned enough, let it stay in a bit longer than 20 minutes.

Remove from the oven. It may be soft at this point, but it will become crunchy as it cools! Let it cool on the baking sheet until completely cool then pour into an airtight container and store in a cool place (not fridge!!!) for up to a month. But it's never going to last that long anyways. Hehe.



A Superpower Breakfast or Lunch Plate (of Dreams!)

I am squeamishly ashamed to admit that this post is over five weeks pending... SORRY. But it is so SO worth it.

Five, okay maybe even two, years ago, if you asked me to eat sweet potato anything, I'd probably roll my eyes and make a face at you wondering if you were crazy. Me? Eat sweet potatoes? No way. I just couldn't stand them. Not sure whether I was cooking them "wrongly" or what the problem was, but just the thought made me queasy.
Fast forward to today. I. Literally. Cannot. Live. Without. Them. But actually. Ask anyone who knows me well/check out my Instagram and you'll definitely believe me. If you didn't already... And for those of you wondering, when, why and/or how did the change come about? To be completely honest, I have absolutely no idea.

I eat them any time of day. Breakfast, lunch, dinner, snack. I haven't yet got on the dessert train yet, but in all honesty, I'm really not sure why. I mean, sweet potato muffins, sweet potato casserole, sweet potato yogurt bowls, sweet potato ice cream... who wouldn't want these things?

My favorite way to prepare/eat them is to cut them up into chunks or wedges, roast until tender on the inside and ever-so-slightly crispy on the outside and serve with a "dip" of some sort. For me, this could be mashed avocado, tahini yogurt, a pesto-based dip, runny egg yolks, hummus and the like. Just something creamy, rich and delicious. Bonus points for two "dips". And that was my not-so-subtle segway into this plate.
It features just these things. Delicious paprika cumin spiced & roasted sweet potato chunks, two "dips" in the form of soft eggs and mashed avo, fresh greens and crunchy seeds. Trust me. I crave this just as much as I do chocolate. Or just about. And that is saying A LOT.

This plate is really packed with everything super - healthy fats from the eggs, avocado, seeds and coconut oil. Complex carbs from the sweet potato. Protein from the eggs and seeds. Micronutrients from it all. Salty, sweet, creamy, crunchy, indulgent, fresh. BLISSFUL, I tell ya.

This is my go-to savory(ish) breakfast or a simple, yet utterly wonderful lunch and sometimes, a super duper lazy dinner. Oh, wait. It can also be a very substantial snack on those days your body just needs a lot of fooooood. Well, mine feels like this almost everyday #noshame.

2 eggs (ideally organic and free range, but this doesn't always happen - even for me!)
1 medium or 1 ½ small sweet potatoes, scrubbed and chopped into chunks (ideally organic, but if not, peel before chopping)
½ tsp paprika
½ tsp ground cumin
1 tsp coconut or olive oil
a handful of mixed greens, organic if possible
1 small or ½ of a large avocado
juice of ½ a lemon
some pumpkin and sunflower seeds, for sprinkling
sea salt, to taste
red pepper flakes (optional)

Turn your oven on and heat to 180°C. 

Toss the sweet potato chunks in the coconut/olive oil, paprika and ground cumin. Place them on a roasting tray lined with parchment paper and bake for 30-35 minutes or until very tender and fluffy on the inside, but just slightly crispy on the outside. Once done, remove from oven and set aside. 

Meanwhile, prep your eggs. Heat a pot of water and once it has come to a boil, gently place the two eggs and boil for 6 minutes for a soft-boil or 8 minutes for a medium-boil. I generally just do somewhere between the two. Once the time is up, put the eggs in a bowl of ice or very cold water to "shock" the eggs and prevent them from cooking further. Leave them there for 3-4 minutes, then peel. 

The last step before plating is to prep the avocado mash. Surprise surprise - mash the avocado with the lemon juice and some salt, if you wish. 

Now time to get plating. Throwing it all in a wide bowl will yield an almost just as good result! I mean, it is proven that pretty food tastes better... or is that just me? :P

Put everything (eggs, sweet potato chunks, avo mash, greens) in your dish of choice, sprinkle with seeds, salt and red pepper flakes. Then snap a few quick pics of your masterpiece, share on social media to make people jealous and finally, relish, or devour, the goodness.

I know you will, but, as always, ENJOY!


Crunchy Fruity Nutty Everything Granola Bars

I know, I know. It's been a while (again). But, in the midst of revising for my last ever exams (of my undergrad degree!), I'm back! And this time, with a snack attack!

This term has been filled with all sorts of feelings. As my last term as an undergraduate, I feel this need (want?) to make the most of it, yet I know that days in the library are necessary and that exams are important. Yes, there's more to life than school and grades, but it's equally important to reign each opportunity and that means studying when it's necessary... And it most definitely is right now.

And my best friend when studying? Snacks, duh. Just kidding. But only kinda....

I love keeping lots of snacks around to make sure I have something to grab when the snack cravings hit. I also make sure they'll hit the spot depending on what I'm feeling at that point - sweet, savoury, crunchy, creamy, light, hearty, healthy and yes, sometimes totally indulgent. Here are a few of my favs:
  • An apple or banana with almond butter
  • Mashed avo on toast/rice cakes or with pita chips/tortilla chips 
  • Dates with greek yogurt and nuts - the tart, sweet, crunchy combo is a winner
  • Banana walnut smoothie
  • Cookies (check out the many recipes on the blog here)
  • A handful of nuts - I've been loving sprouted, blanched & toasted almonds as well as brazil nuts
  • Chocolate in any form!
I definitely eat my fair share of store-bought snacks (which are really great nowadays as new companies launch new products with minimal additives), but it's nice to have portable snacks that are homemade too. Mashed avocado and smoothies are great, but they're generally best eaten/drunk fresh and not the easiest things to bring around. 

That's where these bars fit in. Once cut/broken apart, they can be wrapped in cling film and stored for up to a month (if they last even close to this long, you've got willpower!). Grab one for a quick, small breakfast on-the-go, toss one in with your packed lunch, carry it in your handbag for when the munchies hit when you're out shopping, need I continue? Basically, they're absolutely delicious, hearty, easy to carry and good any time of day. Even as a post-dinner sweet treat! 

Another thing I love doing, not necessarily intentionally, is using it as granola on yoghurt. I tend to do this with the crumbled bits (yes, they do crumble a bit when you cut them), but am also known to take a bar and crush it straight on top of my bowl of yogurt when I'm really feeling it.
They are 100% customizable with whatever you like/what mix-ins you have on hand. As I'm writing this, I'm envisioning a super summery tropical version with dried mango, apricot, pineapple and coconut. Or an indulgent almond chocolate variety. Really whatever floats your boat. 

But getting back to these ones - they are definitely classic, but fun. They are chock full of allll the nuts, seeds and dried fruit. They're perfectly sweet├╝ber crunchy and just straight up heavenly. Oh, and did I mention your home will smell just incredible when these are baking?

Makes 12-15 bars depending on what size you like 'em

Treat these only as a rough guide - feel free to increase/decrease proportions of the nuts/seeds/fruits as you wish!

3 cups whole rolled oats
1 cup desiccated coconut (medium ground)
1 cup chopped nuts (I used walnuts, pecans and pistachios, but any mix of nuts will do!)
1/4 cup pumpkin seeds
1/4 cup sunflower seeds
2 tbsp white sesame seeds
3/4 cup chopped dried fruits (I used dates, figs and apricots but other options I could definite imagine working well are cranberries, cherries. raisins or goji berries)
1/2 cup coconut oil
1/2 cup honey
1/4 cup pure maple syrup
pinch of salt

Turn on your oven and heat to 160°F. Yes, this somewhat lower than "usual" baking temperatures, but it's important not to go any higher. The bars need to bake for a while to get nice and crunchy, so working with this temperature prevents them from burning/browning on top too quickly.

Line a 13" x 9" baking dish with parchment paper. 

In this, pour the dry rolled oats and place in the oven for 10 minutes to toast slightly. Once 10 minutes is up, add the coconut, nuts and seeds to the same dish and place back in the oven for another 5 minutes. Once they're done, remove from the oven, but leave the oven on.

Meanwhile, work on the wet mixture. Don't forget about the dry ingredients, though! You don't want to let them brown or cook too much at this stage. 

In a small pot or saucepan, whisk together the maple syrup, coconut oil, honey and salt and place on the stove over medium heat until it just starts to simmer. Turn off the heat as soon as you see bubbles.

Let both the toasted dry ingredients and hot liquid mixture cool for 2-3 minutes until you can handle them. Keep the same parchment paper!

Then, in a large mixing bowl, throw in the toasted oats/nuts/seeds and the chopped dried fruit. Give it a quick stir. Pour in the wet ingredients and stir well until all the dry ingredients are well coated. 

Pour the mixture into the lined baking dish and press down firmly until even and compacted. I find the easiest way to do this is to actually cut another small piece of parchment paper and use that to avoid sticky fingers.

Bake for 40-60 minutes until gorgeously golden brown, aromatic and crunchy. Keep a close eye ever 5 or so minutes as these can go from golden to burnt very quickly.

Once they're out, lightly cut into bars to make the final cutting apart a bit easier. Let them cool in the dish for 10 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely. 

Cut/break apart the bars, wrap in cling film and store in an airtight box. Make sure to leave one unwrapped so you can enjoy it... now!


Healthier Two-Toned Cookie Brownie Bars

Cookie + brownie? Yes, all the way. I mean, how could you not want this?

Ever since I was young, I was obsessed with all things that were essentially a layer of cookie + a layer of brownie (aka. slutty brownies), so recently I got thinking - how could I make something similar out of whole(r) food ingredients?

So I turned to my favourite go-to ingredients and whipped up this delicious batch of cookie dough come brownie come banana bread. Basically the epitome of delicious. It has all the elements - crunchy, chewy, soft, nutty, chocolatey and not too sweet at all! I've recently been all into sweet treats that aren't overly sugary because as I said, I've been really enjoying savoury foods a lot lately, but that doesn't mean the sweet tooth doesn't strike. And when it does, I don't need something over-the-top sweet to curb those cravings.

The cookie layer is like a softer, fluffier blondie with a tinge of banana bread feel while the brownie "blobs", as I like to call them, are reminiscent of a baked version of a chewy date-based brownie. For me, this combination is everything I could dream of.
The great thing about these is that they hit the spot anytime you want something sweet, yet are healthy enough for breakfast, light enough for an afternoon snack and decadent enough for dessert. You'd better be convinced by this point!

Don't let the long-looking ingredient or instruction list dissuade you. These are actually super easy to throw together (mostly all down in a food processor/blender) and taste absolutely incredible!

For the cookie layer:
1 cup rolled oats
1/2 cup coconut flakes
1/2 cup blanched almonds
2 tbsp plain flour
1 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp baking soda
pinch of salt
1/4 cup coconut oil, melted
1 egg
1/3 cup honey
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
1 banana, mashed
1/3 cup dark chocolate chips

For the brownie "blobs"
1/4 cup cocoa or cacao powder
1/2 tsp pure vanilla extract
8 pitted medjool dates - soak them in hot water for 10 minutes if they are quite dry
1/4 cup almond flour
2 eggs
3 tbsp coconut oil
1/3 tsp baking soda
pinch of salt

For the blondie layer:
In a food processor or high-speed blender, pulse the oats, coconut flakes and almonds until they turn into a coarse flour. Pour the mixture into a medium-sized bowl and stir in the plain flour, cinnamon, baking soda and salt.

In a separate, smaller bowl, whisk together the coconut oil, egg, mashed banana, vanilla and honey. Pour the wet ingredients into the dry and mix until just combined.

Fold in the chocolate chips.

For the brownie "blobs":
In the same food processor or blender (no need to wash out!), blend together all the ingredients until a mostly smooth (thick!) paste-y mixture forms, remembering to drain the dates first if you had previously soaked them.

Putting it together:
Preheat the oven to 170°C and line a standard square baking dish with parchment paper. 

Pour in the blondie layer. Spoon big dollops of the date brownie layer across the blondie layer, making sure to leave space between the dollops so the blondie layer shows through.

Place the dish in the oven for 25 or until a toothpick inserted in the blondie layer comes out clean. It should be a gorgeous golden brown on top, too!

Remove from the oven and cool in the dish for 15 minutes, then carefully transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.

It is essential that you wait until it is completely cool to get nice squares, else it may crumble. That's not to say digging in immediately is not allowed! Who needs perfect squares anyway?

Grab your favourite drink alongside for sipping and/or dunking and as always, enjoy!