23 April, 2013

Savory Oat Bars with Olives and Sun Dried Tomatoes

One of my most popular recipes, here on the blog and at home with my family, are the Breakfast Oatmeal Bars whose recipe I posted 3 1/2 years ago.
Countless time I have baked these because they are so good: wholesome, crunchy without added sugar, and very tasty and filling. My husband has these for breakfast and my kids as a snack when they come home from school. Making them is easy as pie too.

A few weeks back, my husband suggested to make a savory version of it. I was immediately hooked onto the idea. My first try wasn't so successful, as I just threw random chopped veggies in. I realized, it needed strong flavors to stand up against the mild taste of the oats. I doubled the spices and herbs and opted for olives and sun dried tomatoes. A winning combination. The first batch that came out of my oven, I ate all by myself. The second batch was for my husband to try whose idea this was. He tested and approved and now loves to take a few bars in his lunchbox every now and then.

The recipe is very new and I haven't experimented yet with other flavors. I can imagine capers in there too. Or fresh rosemary. Perhaps bacon bits or even smoked salmon if it doesn't have to be vegetarian? It's worth a try and if you experiment with the add-ins, let me know how it came out. Enjoy!

(Print Recipe)

1 1/2 cups rolled oats
1 cups milk

1 teaspoon sea salt
2 tablespoons dried oregano
2 tablespoons ground flax seeds
1 teaspoon cumin seeds
1/2  teaspoon chili flakes

1/4 cup sun dried tomatoes, finely chopped
1/4 cup Kalamata olives, pitted and finely chopped
1/4 cup almonds, roughly chopped

Serves 9
Preheat oven to 180C/350F. Line 8-inch square tin sheet with parchment paper.
In a medium bowl, combine oats, salt, herbs & spices and ground flax. Add milk and let stand to soak for 10 minutes or so. In the meantime finely chop the sun dried tomatoes, olives and almonds. Add to oat mixture and stir well.

Pour mixture into prepared tin sheet and spread evenly. Bake for 30-35 minutes.
Let cool on wire rack. Then cut into bars/squares. Store in airtight container. Keeps well in the fridge for 3 days.
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16 April, 2013

Vanilla Sesame Cookies with Rosewater

I am as much a runner as I am a food blogger.

I need to get off my chest how disgusted I am about the bomb attacks at the Boston Marathon yesterday. There will never be a right space or time for incidents like this. But targeting sports events is one of the most distasteful things that can happen.

The Boston Marathon is the oldest and one of the most prestigious marathons. People train for years to qualify. People train for months to prepare for it. People and their families travel around the world to run the Boston marathon. And then, some idiots plant bombs at the finish line. How sickening that is!

I know someone who ran Boston yesterday. She finished about 45 minutes before the bombs went off. She is fine. She did a Personal Best, but what does it mean in the light of the bomb attacks? I see pictures of the runners that were held back a few metres before the finish line, just after the bomb explosions. Held back to finish a marathon that they trained for really hard. I think about the 8-year old boy that has been killed. I imagine that his mother or father might have been running the marathon.
I know several runners who will run the London marathon next Sunday, and equally big sports event through the streets of London.

It's a sad day for running. It's beyond my comprehension. I am at loss for words to describe my bewilderment. But we mustn't submit. As long as there is light in respond to darkness, there is hope. I know a group of runners here from Dubai that have qualified for next year's Boston marathon. Nothing will stop them. Keep on running!

(Print Recipe)

1 3/4 cup almond meal
pinch of sea salt

1/4 cup honey (or agave syrup for a vegan version)
2 tablespoons coconut oil, melted
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon rose water

3/4 cup sesame seeds

Yields 30-35
Preheat oven to 150C. Line baking sheet with parchment paper.

In a bowl, mix almond meal and salt.
In another bowl, combine honey/agave syrup, coconut oil, vanilla extract and rose water.
Combine wet and dry ingredients. The dough should be solid enough to form balls. If it's too wet, add some more almond meal.

Form balls of the size of a cherry. Roll in sesame seeds, then flatten it to 1/4 inch thickness and place on the prepared baking sheet. Repeat until all dough is used up.

Bake for 30-35 minutes or until bottoms are golden brown. For extra crispy cookies, flip them upside down and leave in the warm oven for a few more minutes.
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10 April, 2013

Broccoli Pistachio Burgers

 I acknowledge the fact that broccoli is not the most exciting vegetable. I can see on my kids faces every time they find on they lunch plate. However, I think the nutritional value of broccoli makes it worth exploring all the possibilities of making it tasty.

I am somewhat infatuated with veggie burgers these days. They offer endless variations when it comes to the vegetables that can be used, and the flavors being added. They make light and nutritious lunches or dinners. Leftovers are good to pack into lunch boxes the next day.

When I saw a recipe for a broccoli burger, I was intrigued immediately. The original recipe called for broccoli and cashews. I remembered my broccoli pistachio soup whose combination of ingredients resulted in an amazing cheesy flavor, despite being vegan.

Veggie burgers are pretty fragile creatures if you don't want to use a mountain of glutenous breadcrumbs in it. I tried to bind the burger mixture with oat and quinoa flakes. I admit, it's not quite the same as breadcrumbs, but it helps a lot. What I am saying is, don't give up when the the burgers don't hold together as much as meat burgers or veggie burgers with breadcrumbs. The flavors are amazing and are definitely worth a bit of experimenting. Good luck!

(Print Recipe)

1/2 cup/80g pistachios, shelled
4 cups/400g broccoli florets

1/2 teaspoon sea salt or to taste
1/2 teaspoon chili flakes

1/4 cup quinoa flakes or fine GF oat flakes
1/4 cup mixed seeds (e.g. white and black sesame, pumpkin or sunflower seeds)

1-2 tablespoons olive oil for frying

Yields 6
Steam the broccoli florets for about 5 minutes or until tender.
In a food processor blend cooked broccoli, pistachios, sea salt and chili flakes until mixture sticks together. 

Transfer mixture to a bowl and knead in quinoa or oat flakes and seeds. Let stand for about 10 minutes, so the flakes can absorb some moisture. Form patties of the size of the balm of your hand. Handle the patties with extra care, as they break quite easily.

Shallow fry the patties in a little olive oil over medium heat, about 3-5 minutes on each side. Serve in burger bun or with your preferred burger sides.
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02 April, 2013

Lemon Rosemary Bundt Cake

Life has been good recently as two 10k races were on the agenda. The first race included a 2.5k junior race that my son participated in. His first official race, with bib number and timing chip and all. He is seven years old. I couldn't watch him running, as I did the 10k race that only started minutes after the juniors went off. Naturally, I was still running when he finished.
He cheered me on for my race after he was done, proudly holding up his finisher medal when I ran past him. It looked like he really enjoyed it. I had no clue what time he ran, how he finished (as there were age categories too), and whether he would be in the prizes.

We stayed on until the award presentation, as I knew I would be in the prizes in my age category. It turned out I finished 3rd in my category, and he finished 2nd in his. His trophy was bigger than mine! I couldn't have been a prouder mum at this moment!

Fast forward a week, and the next 10k run is on. It would be the last serious race of the Dubai season. Weather is getting hotter, so the race season is over winter from October to March/April. The course was well known to me, flat and fast with just a few sharp corners. My performance would be depending on temperatures and wind. I didn't expect too much, as I thought I already mentally closed down my season. However, when I arrived at the race site, the weather was just PERFECT. No wind and cool temperatures promised a good race with fast times. I had nothing to lose and threw all race strategies overboard. Instead I would just go for it. If I blew up halfway, then so be it. It worked out just perfectly, and I finished in 41:46, a personal best time by over one minute. What a great closure of the season. Just a year ago, when I was still hovering around 44:00 for 10k, I thought only fast people can run 41:00 times over 10k. Now I am doing it myself!

On my return from this awesome 10k race, my father had arrived from Germany for a 2-week visit, and the Easter weekend was just about to start.

So we had many reasons to celebrate with a little cake that would call out to the Spring season. Lemons hav always been my favorite fruit to invigorate life into food after a long and heavy-ish winter food season. This cake is refreshing and wholesome, grain-free and without added sugar. Even good to enough to have for breakfast, if you have nothing imminent to celebrate. Enjoy!

1/2 cup coconut flour
1/2 cup almond meal
1 teaspoon baking soda
4 eggs
1/2 cup grated jaggery or palm sugar
1/3 cup olive oil
1/2 cup coconut milk
1 lemon, juice of
2 lemons, zest of (ca. 2 tablespoons zest)
2 tablespoon fresh rosemary, minced

Lemon Drizzle
3/4 cup powdered raw sugar*
1-2 tablespoons lemon juice

* You can make your own powdered raw sugar by grinding granulated raw sugar in a spice or coffee grinder. Alternatively, just use, regular (less healthy) powdered sugar.

Serves 8-10
Preheat oven to 180C/375F. Lightly grease a 8" or 9" bundt cake tin.

In a bowl, sift together coconut flour, almond meal and baking soda.  Set aside.

In another bowl, cream eggs and sugar/jaggery with an electric mixer. Blend in oil, coconut milk and lemon juice. Stir in finely chopped rosemary and lemon zest.

Combine wet and dry ingredients until just combined. Pour batter into prepared cake tin. Bake for about 30 minutes, or until cake tester comes out clean. Let cool for a few minutes, before turning the cake out. Let cool completely on wire rack.

Lemon Drizzle
In a bowl, combine powdered sugar and lemon juice. Start with one tablespoon and add more little by little until you reach desired consistency. It should be liquid but not too runny. Drizzle or pipe the mixture over the cooled cake.
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