No-bake Energy Balls

Eating clean is hard. It’s not finding things to eat. Recipes are easy to find but there is a part of my brain that wakes up every now again and demands that I eat four times my body weight in Haribo. The hard bit is ignoring it.

I have found a way of shutting it up, getting something yummy in my gob and getting a little boost of energy at the same time.

No-bake Energy Balls are quick and easy to make and just as quick and easy to eat. They make for great snacks that provide a good balance of complex carbohydrates, fibre, protein and omega 3, as well as keeping you away from the Haribo. For now.

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Ingredients (makes around 10 balls)

  • 30g Desiccated coconut
  • 60g Porridge oats
  • 30g Ground flaxseed
  • 40g Crunchy peanut butter (approx 2 tbsp)
  • 30g Runny honey (approx 3 tsp)
  • 1/2 tsp Vanilla extract
  • 1 Medium banana
  • 53g milk chocolate (approx 4 squares of a bar)

Directions
Put it all in a bowl. No particular order needed. On my second batch I left the honey until last so the oats didn’t soak it all up, but it really didn’t make a difference.

Mix it all about. You may need to mush the peanut butter down a bit so you don’t end with one energy ball that is just a lump of peanut butter covered in oats and coconut.

Once that’s done you can get on to making the balls. Grab a small handful of the mixture, wrap your hand around it and squeeze. I then push the excess back into the ball at both ends with my thumb while my hand is still closed. Shape the lump into a ball and there you have it. Your first no-bake energy ball! Well done!

Repeat 9 times or until your mixture runs out.

Pop them gently into an airtight container and keep in the fridge. I say that last for a week but they could last longer. They’ve never survived long enough for me to find out.

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You can add different things in there to make your own versions. I’ve been tempted to replace the chocolate with some cranberries or similar dried fruit. I did try leaving out the chocolate, melting it down and using it to cover the outside of the balls. Fancy trying that as well? Don’t. They’re too delicate for that. They fall apart and you’re left with an oaty, cocnutty, chocolatty mess instead of an awesome snack.

Nutrition
Per ball (recipe makes around 10 balls)

Calories 120

Total fat 7.2g
Saturated: 2.0g
Polyunsaturated: 0.7g
Monounsaturated: 0.7g
Trans/hydrogenated: 0.0g
Cholesterol 0.0mg
Sodium 10.1mg
Potassium 0mg
Total carbs 9.6g
Fibre: 1.7g
Sugars: 2.8g
Protein 2.9g
Vitamin A 0.0%
Vitamin C 0.0%
Calcium 1.0%
Iron 3.9%

I adapted this recipe from one I found through Pinterest, but omitted a few things (chia seeds?) and changed a couple of measurements as it was an American recipe using their silly cup system…

Banananut Butter Overnight Oats

After the initial boyish excitement of signing up to throw myself around an obstacle course for charity my brain quickly realised that I would need to eat well, not just train well.

That’s why I’ve been trying to eat clean as often as possible, eating less processed things and trying to balance out my diet. Lunch and dinner are easy to vary, but I’ve struggled with breakfast recently. Porridge was a first call for breakfast but after 3 weeks this has gotten a bit boring, so I’m trying something that I don’t think any person has ever achieved before: making porridge oats interesting.

But I found an answer and that answer is banananut butter overnight oats.

They sound fancy, they look fancy, but they’re really incredible easy and yummy. Get the ingredients, pile them into a jar, shake, pop into the fridge, go to bed, eat in the morning. Done.

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Ingredients

  • 65g Porridge oats
  • 10g Ground flaxseed
  • 50g Crunchy peanut butter (approx 2 tbsp)
  • 150ml Skimmed milk
  • 18g Runny honey (approx 2 tsp)
  • 80g Greek yoghurt
  • 1 Medium banana

Directions
Didn’t you read the bit above the ingredients list? Whack everything but the banana into a jar. Shake it up. It doesn’t even matter what order you do it in!

Once you’ve had enough fun trying to not throw a full jar across your kitchen, pop it into the fridge and then go to bed. When you get up and are ready for breakfast, slice the banana over the top and dig in!

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I thought this was easy and yummy, really giving porridge oats the lift I was searching for after 3 weeks of bland.

You can change the thickness of the oats by using semi-skimmed instead of skimmed or just add less milk and more yoghurt. I found the above amounts to be a bit stodgy so I’d suggest adding 25ml more milk and 10-15g less yoghurt, or even both. Sort your own breakfast out. I’m not your mum.

You can also add in different things, like fruit, nuts or coconut. Once I’ve had my second helping of this one tomorrow I’m either going to make an apple and cinnamon version or one packed with berries! Nom.

Nutrition
Per serving (recipe makes 2)

Calories 493

Total fat 18.4g
Saturated: 3.3g
Polyunsaturated: 1.6g
Monounsaturated: 0.4g
Trans/hydrogenated: 0.0g
Cholesterol 0.0mg
Sodium 139.4mg
Potassium 181.1mg
Total carbs 49.9g
Fibre: 7.2g
Sugars: 18.7g
Protein 16.7g
Vitamin A 0.5%
Vitamin C 7.5%
Calcium 4.8%
Iron 16.0%

I adapted this recipe from one I found on Pinterest, but had to change some amounts and also work out measurements as it was an American recipes using their silly cup system…

Baker Days – a cake in the post

Want some cake? Of course you do. Everyone loves cake.

That made this review tough. Cake is glorious cake and can’t really have anything to make it stand out other than its amazing cakiness right? Well, Baker Days have something different.

Not only do they personalise designs, in a similar way that Moonpig does cards, they also offer cakes that are small enough to be posted through your letterbox!

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My cake arrived – in perfect condition thanks to it’s tin – with a special message, a party whistle, candles, a blank card for a message and some balloons. This means you can order it and have it delivered to your house or office, confident you just need a pen and matches and you’re away. I would say that the tin makes a handy container to keep the spare cake for up to 14 days, but whoever heard of such thing as spare cake?

There are tons of designs. Choose from humour, celebration, occasion, all sorts. And on top of that there are a few choices of cake as well; sponge, carrot, chocolate chip and gluten free.

I was sent a carrot cake, which was nice enough. Being letterbox-sized means that you don’t get a cream filling in the middle meaning that you would expect the cake to be a tiny bit drier than usual but it was still lovely and moist and the quality of the sponge was top notch. And trust me, I double-checked with another slice to make sure it was like that the whole way round.

While it ticks all the boxes of fun and functionality, the big sticking point will be the price. The personalised letterbox cakes, including the party bits and delivery, come in at £14.99 for the standard sponge. That’s a big number for 3-4 slices.

I’d be delighted to receive one, not so much to pay for one but if you’re stuck for a last-minute present that is different from a bottle of fizz or some chocolates they are a fantastic option.

The above products were sent to me for an independent review by Baker Days team. I was under no obligation to provide a positive review. You can read my review policy here.

Down With Boring Ice Cream. Long Live Berry Meringue Semifreddo!

Ice cream is great, right? Right. What is your favourite flavour? You probably answered automatically, without blinking, but I’ll bet it was one of the top ice cream flavours everyone always says is the best.

I’ve got news for you. Ice cream is boring. You can argue with me all you want, but the flavour most people opt for is vanilla. That’s the culinary equivalent of beige paint. Yawn.

This is where the semifreddo comes in. Semifreddo means ‘semi frozen’ and it goes down very well with Italians, and they know frozen desserts. It is a fruity, creamy, crunchy, frozen bit of awesomeness.

Easy and cheap to make. Fun to eat. Like boring ice cream, but a little different… and not boring.

Berry Semifreddo Recipe

Ingredients
400g frozen berries
125g icing sugar
3 tbsp fruit liqueur
1 lemon, seated and juiced
4 large eggs whites
600ml double cream
50g meringue nests, crumbled

1: First line a freezerproof serving dish with greaseproof paper. Or one that isn’t freezerproof. Depends how many bits of dish you want in your dessert.

2: Add the fruit to a saucepan with 50g of the icing sugar, the fruit liqueur and the lemon juice. Heat gently until the berries start to get a little mushy and the surrounding liquid is syrupy. This should take about five minutes.

3: Lift out half the berries (with a slotted spoon if you’re fancy enough to have one) and set aside. Whizz the remaining berries and juice to a pulp in a food processor. Leave them both to cool.

4: In a bowl whip the egg whites until stiff peaks form. If you’re feeling like a show off, turn the bowl upside down over your head. If it is stiff enough it’ll stay in the bowl. If it isn’t you’ll at least provide everyone with a laugh. Showmanship out the way, add the remaining icing sugar and beat until thick and glossy. In a separate bowl whip the cream until it holds its shape.

5: Gently fold the egg whites and lemon zest into the cream then fold in most of the crumbled meringue. I’ll tell you not to pinch a little bit here and there but what’s the point? You know and I know that you’ll ignore me.

6: Drizzle in most of the puréed fruit and all the whole fruit. Gently fold until marbled, which is a posh way of saying “all swirly”. Empty into serving dish and drizzle over the remaining puréed fruit and meringue. Freeze for at least 8 hours. Try not to poke half way through.

7: 20 minutes before you want to eat it remove it from the freezer, let it soften for those 20 minutes before serving in dollops. Or straight into your mouth. Depends if you have company or not.

It melts better than ice cream. Tastes better than ice cream. Looks better than ice cream. Is easier to make than ice cream. Summary: better than ice cream.

Plus, make it for when people come round and you’ll look like a kitchen wizard when all you did was make ice cream fun again.

Pavillon Ledoyen Truffles

Chocolates. Everyone loves them, right? Right. So when I was offered to be sent some luxury Parisian truffles I umm’d and ahh’d for about never and bit their arm off.

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The one-armed people in question are Pavillon Ledoyen. They are a company that create elegant macaroons  chocolates, biscuits, coffees, teas, champagnes, spirits, foie gras and many other gourmet specialties, in order to provide you with the best of Paris.

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I was sent the truffles, all natural and dusted with cocoa powder.

While the $34.00 (£21.64) price tag will put off most, Pavillon Ledoyen certainly do their best to make you feel like they’re worth it. They arrive in a well crafted decorative box (right), that my wife is keen to keep for make-up storage, housing a golden packet in which hides the truffles.

Once you get past the elegant packaging, the truffles themselves are immensely luxurious. They’re rich and velvety, taking you from the bitter cocoa dusting to a buttery middle before giving you a light chocolaty aftertaste. They’re very rich, leaving you with a thought that is rare with most chocolate products: “I could only eat two of those”.

They would certainly make a nice treat for a special lady in your life, as they really are something very different from your classic Milk Trays and Lindor balls. They feel like they’d suit a special anniversary, alongside a trip to the country and a bottle of champagne. (He says having tried them at home, with a tea and Glee on the telly…)

Jamie Oliver Griddle Waffles

Technically this wasn’t trying a new thing, but it almost felt like it as it had been about a year since I last made them – and in that year a lot has changed.

We had cancelled some plans, so had a lot more time for breakfast than we had scheduled for. And Amelia was asleep, so I suggested making Jamie Oliver’s Griddle Waffles as a nice, snowy breakfast treat. I was met with a sarcastic “oh if I must” so I set to it.

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First of all, the ingredients:

  • 2 eggs
  • 300ml milk
  • 100g butter (unsalted if possible)
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 225g self-raising flour
  • Pinch of salt
  1. So I started by cracking in the eggs, whisking them along with the milk. Add the salt and the baking powder (slightly less than Mr Oliver suggests otherwise you’ll feel it on your teeth).
  2. Sieve in the flour to make it nice and smooth and lump free. Whisk it up. Whack the butter – I used unsalted at room temperature – in the microwave until just before it explodes all over the inside of it. Then put a third in. Whisk. Another third. Whisk. Final third. You can guess what is the next step… Yup. Whisk.
  3. Rest for 30 mins so the baking powder and flour get to work.
  4. Heat up your griddle pan until it is about to melt. Pour in the batter and make sure it spreads evenly about in your pan. Turn the heat down to medium and cook for 8-10 minutes.
  5. Mr Oliver wants you to flip it with a spatula. Don’t. It’ll collapse on you and your hob and probably set your house on fire. Instead slide it onto a plate, then put the pan over the “raw” side and turn the plate and pan upside down. Voila. It’s turned. Cook the other side for another 8 minutes.
  6. When it is done, slide onto a chopping board, drizzle with maple syrup. It looks like this…
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  7. Once it’s all soaked in, cut in half, then cut again into batons. Serve with a ramekin full of more maple syrup so you can dip them.

I had mine with a mug of hot chocolate as it was about 11.30am by then, so it seemed an ok time for a sugar overload. The baking powder and self raising flower make them quite thick, but that allows for more goodness to soak in when you dip.

They’re wonderful, easy and make you look like you know what you’re doing in the kitchen, so they will always be a winner in my book.

Thanks to Recipe Rifle for archiving the recipe as it had disappeared off of the Channel 4 website it was on last year, although I have changed it ever so slightly.