The other day I found myself buying two books at the same time: “I Quit Sugar” by Sarah Wilson and “Saved by Cake” by Marian Keyes. I am aware of the irony. Unfortunately both appeal to me equally. For at least ten minutes I decided I absolutely would give up sugar for good. Then I realised that I could either bake cakes for a living or give up sugar but not really both at the same time. Not to mention that although I don’t, surprisingly, have a particularly sweet tooth, I do love a good cake. So I consoled myself by looking through the recipe book by Marian Keyes, the international best-selling novelist, who was literally saved by cake when she took up baking in the midst of a deep, dangerous depression. While it hasn’t cured her it, baking has really helped her: baking, and particularly bread-making, can be extremely therapeutic. I can highly recommend it.
I have been wanting to try these coconut and chia oat bars for a while now, partly because I thought they qualified as a healthy treat and I am trying to be more healthy. Whether or not they are healthy will depend on which variation of healthy you believe in. Because although these bars contain chia seeds, oats, coconut, almonds and cinnamon, all of which are currently on the “superfoods” lists, they also contain brown sugar, honey and dates. So while they are considered much better options than white sugar, they are still all sources of fructose. I have always been a believer in everything in moderation (even if I don’t always practice what I preach), so for now, at least, sugar is staying in.
We all have a good idea of what we probably should and shouldn’t be eating, although that’s not helped by the fact that just because it was good for you last week doesn’t mean it will still be good for you next week. I work on the theory that if I cut out as many processed foods as possible I can avoid a lot of the dangerous trans fats, high fructose corn sugar, palm oil and sugar, additives and preservatives in food as well as “processing aids”, which are not even on the label. And I have friends who range on the scale from those who are almost evangelical about what we should and shouldn’t be eating to those who subsist on a diet of wine, crisps and chocolate: there is always room for discussion!
This is a Donna Hay recipe that I found on a New Zealand newspaper website and the original ingredients list is all measured in cups. I have converted it to grams and mls below but if you would prefer to see the amounts in cups, please see the original recipe here. Even the kids enjoyed these, although I have to admit I did have some requests from the adults for “proper cake next time” when I handed them out at my son’s rugby training. Although that didn’t actually stop anyone coming back for more…
100g dessicated coconut
125g almonds, chopped
35g chia seeds
100g chopped dates
½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
60g coconut oil
30g dark brown sugar
Set the oven to 180ºC and line a baking tin approximately 20x30cm with baking parchment.
Combine the oats, desiccated coconut, chopped almonds, chia seeds, chopped dates and cinnamon in a large bowl.
Put the coconut oil, honey and sugar into a saucepan and heat gently until the ingredients are melted and combined.
Pour the honey mixture into the dry ingredients and mix well to combine.
Tip the mixture into the prepared tin and press down evenly and firmly using the back of a metal spoon.
Bake for around 20 minutes or until dark brown.
Leave to cool in the tin. Once cold, remove from the tin and slice into squares or bars.
They should keep for up to a week in an airtight tin.
Can be enjoyed in moderation as part of a healthy diet – probably! I’d love to know what you think.