Pumpkin and honey flapjacks (healthy deliciousness!)

pumpkin and honey flapjacks

My attempt at pumpkin pie didn’t go well. So I decided to try making flapjacks with grated pumpkin in them instead, and luckily they were more successful!  The flapjacks also contain honey, sesame seeds, mashed banana, orange zest, raisins and, of course, porridge oats. There are pretty nutritious and the honey and raisins make them sweet enough without sugar. My son described them as ‘yummy!’ and reminded me that ‘you can make flapjacks with different things’. This is true. We have also made them using grated carrot instead of pumpkin; chopped dried apricots or cranberries instead of raisins; pumpkin seeds or linseeds instead of sesame seeds; and peanut butter instead of banana. We eat them as an after school snack, when out and about or as dessert.

Small seeds such as sesame seeds and linseeds (very cheap to buy!) help the mixture to stick together. Honey, mashed banana and peanut butter also act as a good binder. It’s easiest to cut the pumpkin in to large chunks and then grate (don’t grate the chunks too thin or you might lose some skin!)

pumpkin and honey flapjacks

pumpkin and honey flapjacks

This recipe makes 16 flapjacks, which will last a few days in a sealed container. Allow about 10 minutes to prepare the mixture and 45 minutes to cook. Hope you like them!

pumpkin and honey flapjacks

Pumpkin and honey flapjacks (makes 16)

150g butter

100g honey

200g grated pumpkin

1 mashed banana

150g raisins

50g sesame seeds

Zest of 1 orange

250g porridge oats

Preheat the oven to 160 degrees/gas mark 3.

Put the butter in a pan and heat gently until it is melting, then add the honey. Once all melted take off the heat and add the pumpkin, mashed banana, raisins, sesame seeds, orange zest and porridge oats. Mix well. You want the mixture to be thick but still be able to stir it with a spoon (with a bit of effort).

Line a smallish square or rectangle baking tin with foil and spoon in the mixture. Flatten it out and squash the mixture down with the back of the spoon to help it stick together. Bake for 35-45 mins, until it’s firm and deeply golden at the edges and sides. Take out and leave to cool. Carefully lift out the foil with the flapjack mixture inside it then cut in to pieces with a sharp knife.


20 min cauliflower and broccoli cheese

cauliflower and broccoli cheese

This speedy 20 minute winter warmer is a twist on cauliflower cheese.  Cauliflower is combined with broccoli (both in season until December!) and onion.   A quick sauce is made by grating cheddar in to creme fraiche then adding a crumbled stock cube.  The whole dish is topped with breadcrumbs and grilled.  It is rich and delicious, with added crunch from the onions.

You could have the cauliflower and broccoli cheese as a main course with sausages or salad, or as a side dish.  It would work well with a roast dinner. My boyfriend reckons the dish would also be nice with added chopped chorizo (he says that about everything though!)

cauliflower and broccoli cheese

If you are making the breadcrumbs yourself you can use frozen, fresh or slightly stale bread (defrost frozen bread in the microwave on full power for 30 seconds).   You could make extra then store the breadcrumbs in freezer bags in the freezer for up to three months (spread thinly so they defrost quickly).  You will then have instant breadcrumbs that you can use to top future bakes/gratins and pad out burgers/fish cakes.  If you want to dry the breadcrumbs out before using from the freezer then spread them on a baking tray and leave somewhere warm ish overnight.

Cauliflower and broccoli cheese (serves 2 as a main course or 4 as a side dish)

1 medium head cauliflower, cut in to smallish chunks

1 medium head broccoli, cut in to smallish chunks

1 small onion, chopped

280ml creme fraiche

180g cheddar cheese

1 stock cube

Dried herbs

50g breadcrumbs (1.5 pieces of bread, blitzed to breadcrumbs, or use premade breadcrumbs)

Boil the cauliflower and broccoli for a few mins, until tender, adding the onions 1 min before they are done.  Drain.  Meanwhile make the sauce by heating the creme fraiche until bubbling then adding 150g of the grated cheese and crumbling in the stock cube.  Shake over some dried herbs, mix and heat a little longer until everything is combined and the cheese has melted.

Add the sauce to the cauliflower, broccoli and onion and mix well.  Pour in to a casserole dish and top with the breadcrumbs and remaining cheese.  Grill on high heat for around 5 mins until golden and crunchy on top.  Eat!

Chinese-style cauliflower fried ‘rice’

Did you know that you can grate cauliflower and fry it, as a delicious rice substitute?  Cook it alongside some red onion, garlic, sesame oil, soy sauce and egg, sprinkle it with coriander and chilli and you have a gorgeous, filling, low calorie dinner.  This Chinese-style cauliflower fried ‘rice’ takes 20 minutes to make and is also great with added prawns or tofu!  You could  use spring onions instead of red onions.

cauliflower fried rice

Grating cauliflower is easy and only takes a couple of minutes.  I grate it whole, using what I can of the florets and leaving the stalky bit in the middle.

The recipe is based on one from http://www.domesticsluttery.com and recommended by my very helpful friend Noush!

Chinese-style cauliflower fried ‘rice’ – serves 2

Sesame oil

1/2 red onion or 4 spring onions, chopped

1 large clove garlic, crushed or finely chopped

1 head cauliflower, florets grated

2 eggs, lightly beaten

Good splash soy sauce

1 red chilli, finely chopped

Small bunch coriander, roughly chopped

Heat a good glug of sesame oil gently in a frying pan and add the onion and garlic.  After a few minutes and once the onion has softened add the grated cauliflower and stir regularly.  Add a little more sesame oil if need be.  After a couple of minutes make a well in the middle of the pan and add the beaten egg, stirring it in the middle of the pan and keeping the rest of the cauliflower mixture to the side.  Keep stirring the egg until is scrambles (don’t worry if some of the cauliflower mixture gets mixed up with it).

Mix everything together for a few more minutes, adding a good splash of soy sauce until it is salty enough.  Spoon in to bowls and scatter over the chilli and coriander.  Eat and feel satisfied!

Muffin tray dinner – a novel meal idea for kids!

Just as my oldest child (aged 5)  is becoming more adventurous with food, his younger brother (aged 3) is saying ‘no!’ more and more.  So I decided to try this great ‘muffin tray dinner’ idea I read about in ‘Getting the Little Blighters to Eat’ by Claire Potter (a book recommended by a local mum – link here:  http://www.amazon.co.uk/Getting-Little-Blighters-Eat-children/dp/1408190745).

muffin tray dinner

For a muffin tray dinner you create an exciting kids meal by filling the holes of a muffin tray with different foods (my kids ate theirs in front of the tv as a treat).  It’s a great way of using up food that needs eating and encouraging kids to try new stuff.  Instead of trying to think up 12 different foods to prepare, you can put the same food in some of the holes.

Have a mix of mostly savoury (including one or two veg), a couple of sweet treats, fruit and one or two new foods.  Most of the food can be instant so it doesn’t have to be time consuming.  Today we had: two sweets; oat biscuits; chorizo slices; rye bread with peanut butter; chopped plum; a kitkat finger; cheese; pre-cooked chicken chunks; satsuma segments and homemade chips.  You could try anything you think of!  Other ideas Claire Potter suggests are: any fruit; twiglets; seeds; chocolate buttons; veg sticks with humous; crisps; marshmallows; tofu chunks; popcorn; dried fruit and cereal.

muffin tray dinner

My oldest ate every last crumb on his tray and my youngest ate everything apart from the chicken.  They both (to my surprise and excitement..!) enjoyed the rye bread (a new food in our house).  And my oldest decided that the melted chocolate from the kitkat was actually quite nice (having run a mile from anything gooey in the past).

We are going to try and have a muffin tray dinner every week, which the kids are very happy about.

Oat, apple and banana pancakes (gluten-free and ready in 20 mins)

oat, apple and banana pancakes

These pancakes are packed with goodness, gluten-free and take about 20 minutes to prepare and cook.  They are made from oats (which you blitz to a flour in a food processor), walnuts (also blitzed), apple, banana, milk and cinnamon.  They have a slightly thicker and grittier consistency than more traditional pancakes but are still delicious with honey on top.  Don’t worry if they look a bit scruffy – it’s all part of their charm!

oat, apple and banana pancakes

My kids enjoyed making a tower of the pancakes and then devoured them – we ate them American-style with blueberries, and yoghurt.  I will have to make another batch and use as an after-school snack soon too (with honey, obviously).  If you are a pancake traditionalist or don’t have a food processor you could leave out the oats and walnuts and simply use plain flour instead!

oat, apple and banana pancakes

Oat, apple and banana pancakes (makes 10 small pancakes)

80g oats

50g walnuts, pecans or almonds

OR replace the oats and walnuts with 120g plain flour

1 apple, grated

1 banana, broken in to a few bits

150ml milk

1/2 tsp ground cinnamon

Put the oats into a blender and blitz until you have a rough scruffy flour.  Put the nuts, milk, apple and banana into the blender and blitz until combined.  (Alternatively, use 120g plain flour instead of the oats and nuts and mix with the apple, finely chopped banana, milk and cinnamon without using a food processor).

Heat a non-stick pan on a medium heat and add a little butter, until there is a thin melted coating of butter gently bubbling in the pan.  Add the pancake batter (1 tbsp = 1 pancake) to make small pancake rounds. Cook for 2–3 minutes on each side, or until golden brown. Eat messily and happily.