I have been feeling like I should apologise for my cooking style of late – everywhere I turn there are diet ‘suggestions’ – paleo, low GI, low-fat, high protein, gluten-free, grain free, dairy free, sugar-free, taste-free (oops, did I really just say that!). It’s extremely overwhelming & at times just plain frustrating. While I do agree it’s wonderful there is such increased awareness of, & options to address serious issues like food allergies & chronic illness, I also find it difficult not to scoff at some of the recommendations – especially when you see the consumer costs associated & the parties who benefit. My main frustration comes into play when I allow myself to feel unnecessarily pressured with regards to food choices, particularly as a parent. Navigating this complicated world of nutrition & health is hard work & being constantly bombarded with negative messages about more traditional methods of cooking does nothing to ease the confusion & guilt!
Ironically though, I continue to find myself drawn to lots of these alternatives – my blogroll is filled with healthy eating, whole food, organic, allergy friendly blogs that I love & adore, but trying to wrap my head around the extremes people need to go to has me feeling like I’m doing everything wrong because I like to cook, OCCASIONALLY, with products like wheat flour, butter & refined sugar! I love the recipes I have that use those ingredients & I’m not ready to give them up, or feel bad for sharing – though I do have a preference for using organic versions of the same. Ok, rant over – thanks for listening!
All that said, this week, I wanted to throw together a healthy family snack that meets the requirements of being considered ‘healthy’, ‘nutritious’, ‘low GI’ & ‘butter’ & ‘refined’ sugar free, child friendly & satisfying to a sweet tooth like mine. I’m not sure if I feel I have something to prove, or my body was craving a massive whole grain injection, but either way, I can & do cook this way often – just so you know.
All ingredients in this recipe are organic – I use organic ingredients in my cooking wherever possible & affordable. I also prefer alternative natural & unrefined sweeteners, like coconut sugar, agave & rapadura sugar to replace processed & refined products like white & brown sugar for our ‘everyday’ type snacks & meals.
This muesli bake is a great all round snack for the whole family & can be put together in lots of ways depending on your taste preference & pantry stocks. While this recipe has lots of ingredients, it is quick & easy to make & will fill you with energy to get you through the day. The finished muesli bar is sticky, crunchy, sweet but not sickly, nutty & in parts soft & gooey. The different flavours & textures roll across your tongue & blend magically as you swallow. This bar is more crumbly than most bought muesli bars, (all part of the fun I assure you), so use a plate or napkin to catch the crumbs.
If you are a raw foodie type, there is nothing to prevent you from eating this before baking – as above – just pop it in the fridge & let it set & you are good to go.
For me though, the toasty golden flavours of baked muesli is lip smackingly good – especially with a cuppa & some good company! Awww … she’s so delicious I could eat her up too!!
So … if you are after a delicious & nutritious snack, this one is a true winner. Here’s how it goes;
Tips / Suggestions – If you do not have products like agave, coconut sugar & oil or cacao nibs, just use the alternatives mentioned below, or replace them with ingredients you prefer. Dry ingredients can be added or omitted without fuss – do not feel bound – if you like sultanas or dried figs, use them, if you want to avoid chocolate, leave it out. Easy!
Homemade Organic Muesli Bars
(Makes about 12 standard muesli bar size pieces)
3 1/2 cups rolled or quick oats
1/2 cup shredded coconut
1/2 cup roughly chopped pistachios – (omit for allergy friendly school snack)
1/2 cup wheat germ
1/4 cup sesame seeds
1/4 cup mixed pepita & chia seeds
1/4 cup cacao nibs – or chocolate chips
1/4 cup roughly chopped dried apricots
1/4 cup roughly chopped pitted dates
3/4 raw agave nectar – or honey
1/4 cup coconut sugar – or soft brown sugar
1/2 cup coconut oil – or light tasting vegetable oil
- Preheat oven to 140 degrees celsius.
- Lightly grease a 25 x 35 cm (or similar) baking tin & line with baking paper, taking it up the sides as well.
- Put the oats, shredded coconut, pistachios, wheat germ, sesame seed, pepitas, chia seeds, dried apricots & dates all together in a large bowl
- Place the agave, coconut sugar & coconut oil in a small saucepan & stir over medium heat until sugar has mostly dissolved – (coconut sugar becomes more frothy than dissolved, just check it is not grainy)
- Pour the wet mix over the dry ingredients & stir until well combined – don’t be afraid to get your hands in there, this will help & is fun!
- Press the mixture as evenly as you can into the baking tin.
- Bake for 40 – 50 minutes, or until golden brown.
- Allow to cool & set slightly, before cutting into bars.
Store in airtight container once completely cooled.
Tips / Suggestions – To make this a kindergarten / school friendly snack, simply omit the nuts.
I hope you like this as much as we do!
Oh, BTW, I am resolved to UNAPOLOGETICALLY continue cooking with wheat flour, butter & sugar from time to time no matter how many blogs I keep liking that tell me I shouldn’t! Can we still be friends? I hope so!
Cook! Eat! Enjoy!
PS – I have been playing around with my photo format a little. I like the changes – hope you do too. Feel free to leave a comment & let me know.