I have been horribly busy at work lately. Hence the inactivity. I really don’t like it when I have to stay until 10 or 11pm and I get home and have to go straight to bed so I can be up at 7am to go in again. But that’s the dark side of having a job in the city, and I really don’t see myself staying in this place longer than I have to be. It pays well but it’s just not worth it. Everything else in my life gets swallowed up by the great crevasse of my job, and what’s the point in that? Of course, it begs the question, what on earth do I do next? But I have to stick with this job until my contract is up in 2019, so I have some time to try and plan my next move at least.
I only had time for a quick bake last weekend, so I thought I’d whip up a batch of flapjacks which would surely only be in and out of the oven before they were crisp and delicious. Unfortunately, this wasn’t quite the case – my ‘quick bake’ turned into an hour-and-a-half epic as the way I made these required a lot of liquid to be heated off before any sort of crispness could be obtained – and even then I think they should have been in longer but I just ran out of time and had to take them out.
They’re delicious, though. They’re like flapjacks but softer and stickier. They’re gluten free (if you buy gluten free oats), sugar free and dairy free, but as with so many of my other recipes – this is not obligatory. I don’t actually cut anything out of my diet at all, because I have no proof that doing so is beneficial at all. Current medical opinion is don’t cut out unless you have a diagnosed reason for doing so, e.g. coeliac or lactose intolerance. I do appreciate that some people are pretty sure they have a problem digesting gluten/dairy/fructose etc, and feel the need to cut out. However, do remember that the mind is a powerful thing, and the nocebo effect (placebo’s dark twin) really can play its part. I would say it’s probably true that there is too much gluten and sugar in the average person’s diet, however.
So, on with the bars! They’re sweet from the bananas, and tangy from the berries, and just generally quite homey and comforting from the oats. They’re almost like oat porridge in solid form, so they’re good for breakfast in a hurry. I need to refine the timings, because I don’t know how much longer in the oven would be required to make them crisp – or if they would just bypass crispness and go on to be burnt round the edges.
- 180g jumbo oats
- 150ml coconut milk
- 2 ripe and spotty bananas
- 1 1/2 tsps cinnamon (optional)
- 1 tbsp melted coconut oil
- 3 tsp cashew butter
- 2 tbsp chia seeds (optional)
- A handful of chopped nuts (I used hazelnuts) (optional)
- 150g berries (I used a mix of raspberries and blueberries)
- Pour the milk over the oats and stir evenly. Leave to soak for 10 minutes.
- Preheat the oven to 180 degrees or 165 fan and line a medium sized baking tray, about 1-1.5 inches deep.
- Mash up the bananas with a fork so you get a sticky paste.
- Mix together the coconut oil and cashew butter until evenly blended.
- Add everything except the berries to the soaked oats and thoroughly mix together.
- Add the berries last so they don’t get too crushed – stir them in gently so they’re evenly incorporated without smashing them to a pulp if you can. If you use frozen berries this reduces the risk of disintegration during mixing.
- Pour the mix into the baking tray and flatten out evenly. It should be quite tightly packed in, and about 1-1.5 inches deep. If it’s thicker, it will take longer to bake and may be more stodgy in the middle.
- If you have a sweet tooth you can drizzle with maple syrup or honey at this point.
- Put in the oven and bake for 40 minutes until it starts browning round the edges. There is a lot of liquid to burn off before this starts going crispy at all, so don’t feel alarmed at how long it takes. Keep an eye on it to ensure it doesn’t burn though!
- Once it’s out it will still be rather soft, but should harden up as it cools.
- Transfer to a wire rack as soon as it’s cool enough to hold its shape – otherwise it will sweat in the pan and become soggy.
- Eat within a few days or store in the fridge as the fruit will go mouldy quickly at room temperature.