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!


A Sweet Potato Kale Salad You Never Knew You Needed

So, I told you you'd be seeing more savoury recipes here on the blog. And I'm kicking it off with a reeeally good one. Like so good, even I didn't know how delicious it was going to be. Full credit to my mom for being the brains behind this incredible creation.

Definitely aware of my sweet potato obsession, she came back one day from lunch at her friend's place and shared that she had eaten a "delicious sweet potato and kale salad with all sorts of crunchy nuts, maybe some feta, a sprinkling of pomegranate and a sesame soy dressing". 

The minute her words entered my ears, I knew I had to make something with similar ingredients. My thoughts at the time: Sweet potatoes? LOVE. Kale? Love too but haven't bought or eaten in forever. Nuts in salad? Big fat yes. Feta? Uhm, hundred percent yes. The pomegranate and dressing were elements I was going to play around with, as wasn't really feeling them.
And then this salad was born. It feels almost silly calling it a salad because it is so far removed from the bowls of lettuce, cucumber and tomatoes that we still often picture in our heads when someone says "salad". This one is hearty, delicious, nutritious and full of texture, healthy fats, greens & carbs. It's sweet and salty, creamy and crunchy, naughty yet nice. It's just full of all the good stuff. I replaced the pomegranate with naturally dried cranberries and the soy sesame dressing with a lemony honey simple dressing and I could not have imagined this any other way. It turned out im-pec-ca-ble.

The sweet potato lends a delicious starchiness, the kale adds a boost of greens and earthiness, the feta gives just the right amount of creaminess and saltiness, the nuts have the perfect crunchiness and the cranberries and dressing just rack up the deliciousness. This salad screams yumminess.

With spring officially having arrived - it has here in London, at least - this salad will be a new favourite addition to your lunch rota. As the weather gets warmer and sunnier, I love eating colder lunches (that often end up being much more colourful too!). 

Another great thing about this salad is it's great made ahead because kale, unlike many other greens, doesn't get soggy in a matter of hours and in fact, almost gets better the longer it sits. In other words, it's a great way to get you greens in daily by making a larger batch on Sunday or the beginning of the week. It would also make a fabulous packed lunch for school or work. 

So.... what are you waiting for?

For two lunch servings (or four side portions)
2-3 large sweet potatoes 
1/2 tsp paprika
1/2 tsp ground cumin
1 1/2 cups kale, chopped quite finely
1/2 lemon
1 tsp honey
2 tbsp pine nuts, toasted
2 tbsp walnuts, toasted and chopped
1 tsp sesame seeds, toasted
1 tbsp dried cranberries
1/4 feta, crumbled
spring onion, chopped, for garnish
olive oil, for roasting sweet potatoes and for dressing
salt, to taste
pepper, to taste

Start by peeling and chopping the sweet potatoes into chunks. Toss them with some olive oil, paprika, cumin, salt, pepper and paprika. Bake in a preheated oven at 170°C for 25-35 minutes, or until tender and cooked through. Set aside to cool. 

Meanwhile, in a large bowl, add the chopped kale, juice from the lemon and 1 tsp of olive oil. Use your (clean!) hands to really massage the kale until it starts to wilt and tenderise. Once the kale has been massaged to your satisfaction, stir in the honey.

Then, add the cooled sweet potato chunks, pine nuts, sesame, walnuts and cranberries and toss together. Add a touch of salt to taste.

Pour into two bowls and top with chopped spring onion and the crumbled feta.

Snap a quick pic, post on Instagram, tag #strawberrychocolateconcoction and ENJOY!