Ever fancied eating a chocolate orange for breakfast? Well, now you can. This gluten-free granola is infused with fresh orange and cocoa powder to make delicious chocolatey orange oaty clusters, then tossed with toasted cashews and dark chocolate chunks.
Raspberry yoghurt baked oats Change up your usual morning porridge with a comforting dish of gluten-free baked oats, served warm from the oven. This recipe is stuffed with fresh raspberries and creamy dairy-free yoghurt for a filling, tangy breakfast. PREP TIME: 10 MINS COOK TIME:…
Cranberry, cashew & coconut granola bars
These soft and chewy breakfast bars are great eaten as a snack or as an easy breakfast on the go. They’re super portable, gluten-free & dairy-free, and can be easily prepared in advance. With no refined sugars, they derive their sweetness from a banana and half a spoonful of honey.
PREP TIME: 10 MINS
COOK TIME: 15 MINS
TOTAL TIME: 35 MINS
These versatile little bars are packed with slow-release, filling ingredients. They’re great to have on hand for anything from hiking and long-distance running to long car journeys, or simply as a fun breakfast at home.
Are they healthy?
People are slowly waking up to the fact that shop-bought granola bars tend to be stuffed with refined sugars, palm oil and whole host of other nasty ingredients – as well as being ridiculously expensive.
It’s much less of a headache to make healthier homemade versions, as you can control what goes in them. To keep the sugar content down, you can:
- Sweeten only using banana – as this is much less calorie-dense than adding sugar or honey
- Reduce the dried fruit – as this is far higher in sugar concentration than fresh fruit. You could, for example, mix fresh raspberries and blueberries into the pre-baked mixture instead, which would substantially reduce the sugar content
Having said this, the essence of a granola bar is very dense in calories, even if you reduce the amount of sugar in them. This is because the bulk formula consists of oats, which are high in carbohydrates, and some form of nuts and oils, which are both high in fat and calories.
This really isn’t an issue if you’re able to just have 1 or 2 bars at a time as an occasional breakfast or snack. However, it’s worth being clear that this is not a food conducive to long-term weight loss, if eaten regularly or in large quantities.
The ingredients for these granola bars can be roughly divided into four camps. You have a few different bulking agents; ingredients that help stick the whole thing together into solid bars; sweeteners; and optional yummy flavourings.
- Natural peanut butter: helps stick everything together (and generally makes everything 100 times nicer). You could, however, get away with omitting if you needed to make these nut-free
- Egg – helps bind the mixture up as it bakes in the oven
- Coconut oil – as above! I prefer using coconut oil instead of butter or margarine because of all the good fats and other health benefits that go with it
- Gluten free oats – the main bulking ingredient. If possible, opt for jumbo rolled oats to give a chunkier texture, although you could use instant oats if preferred
- Desiccated coconut – I’m a huge fan of anything coconut and am always finding excuses to add it into different things. It has a really subtle taste you won’t really notice it too strongly. It also helps give these granola bars a really nice texture
- Banana – probably the main magic ingredient in this recipe so don’t omit it unless you have to! Make sure to use a really ripe banana and mash it into a chunky puree. The sweet banana taste comes through really well in the cooked bars
- Honey – adding just a little bit gives some extra sweetness. You can sub out for maple or agave syrup, or omit completely if you’re trying to keep the sugar content down
- Cashews & dried cranberries – I really like this combo as a flavouring but you can totally customise to whatever you have on hand. Swap out for a pairing of walnut and chopped dates, or toasted almonds and cherries for a bakewell spinoff. To reduce the sugar content, try mixing in fresh raspberries and blueberries into the mixture instead of the dried fruit
- Vanilla essence – just to add that little extra something
- Preheat the oven to 180°C or 350°F and line a 6-inch square tin with non-stick baking paper
- Mash the banana – in a microwave-friendly bowl, chop the banana into rough chunks and microwave for 1 minute. Then use a fork to mash into a chunky puree
- Mix with the wet ingredients -in a large mixing bowl, mix the mashed banana, peanut butter, honey, vanilla essence, egg and coconut oil, until well combined
- Add the dry ingredients – fold in the oats and desiccated coconut, then tip in the cranberries and cashews and give a few rough stirs until well distributed throughout the mixture. The consistency should now be quite thick and difficult to stir, but still spreadable
- Press into the tin – scoop the mixture out into the tin and press flat into an even layer with the back of a metal spoon
- Bake for 15 mins, or until a pale golden-brown colour on top
- Score the surface of the baked mixture with the tip of a sharp knife, dividing it into approximately 9 square bars. Leave to cool in the tin for 45 minutes, then lift it out along with the baking paper
- Serve and store – cut down the score lines to separate the bars and serve while still slightly warm. Keep any leftovers in an airtight container for up to 5 days.
Coconut – the desiccated coconut flavour is really quite mild in this recipe, however for those who really want to avoid it, there are plenty of easy substitutions. Add an extra 3/4 cup (40g) of rolled oats, or swap it out for a cup of ground almonds for a more nutty flavour
Cranberry – quite honestly, any dried fruit works wonders if cranberries aren’t your jam. Try sultanas, raisins, dried apple pieces, apricots, chopped dates or any mixture of these
Cashews – again, the majority of nuts would be delicious here, from walnuts to pecans or almonds. Similarly, feel free to change up the peanut butter for almond or cashew butter instead
Chocolate – I don’t trust myself around the stuff, but these bars would be delicious with some dark chocolate chips thrown in. Or, if you lean to the sweeter side, some white chocolate chunks. Simply add them into the mixture along with the fruit and bake as normal
Spices – I stuck with a bit of vanilla essence for the base recipe, but a couple of teaspoons of ground cinnamon or mixed spice would be a great way to change it up a bit
Seeds – Add a bit of extra protein and texture with a few sprinkles of pumpkin seeds and sunflower seeds.
These bars will keep in an airtight container for at least 1 week, so they’re great for making in advance. Beyond this they might start going a bit stale. In case you want to keep any leftovers for much longer, they’re also freezer friendly.
To freeze properly, wrap the bars individually in baking parchment or aluminium foil, and then seal in a tupperware container or ziplock bag. Keep for up to 2 months in the freezer. To defrost, just leave them out on the kitchen counter for 30-45 mins.
Cranberry, cashew & coconut breakfast bars
- Mixing bowl
- square baking tin
- 1 medium banana
- 1 cup (60g) natural peanut butter
- ½ tbsp honey
- 1 tsp vanilla essence
- 1.5 tbsp coconut oil, melted
- 1 medium egg
- 1 cup (50g) gluten free rolled jumbo oats
- 1 cup (100g) desiccated coconut
- 1 cup (100g) dried jumbo cranberries
- ½ cup (50g) cashew halves
- Preheat the oven to 180°C or 350°F. Line a 6-inch square tin with non-stick baking paper (if not using a non-stick version, grease the outward-facing layer of the paper)
- In a microwave-friendly bowl, chop the banana into rough chunks and microwave for 1 minute. Then use a fork to mash into a chunky puree
- Transfer the banana to a large mixing bowl and add in the peanut butter, honey, vanilla essence, egg and coconut oil. Mix together until well combined
- Fold in the oats and desiccated coconut, then tip in the cranberries and cashews and give a few rough stirs until well distributed throughout the mixture. The consistency should now be quite thick and difficult to stir, but still spreadable
- Scoop the mixture out into the tin and press flat into an even layer with the back of a metal spoon. Transfer the tin to the oven and bake for 15 mins, or until a pale golden-brown colour on top
- Remove from the oven and score the surface of the baked mixture with the tip of a sharp knife, dividing it into approximately 9 square bars. Leave to cool in the tin for 45 minutes, then lift it out along with the baking paper. Cut down the score lines to separate the bars and serve while still slightly warm. Keep any leftovers in an airtight container for up to 5 days.
The best homemade granola This is a chunky, oaty, nutty, ridiculously easy granola. All you’ll need are three main ingredients for those golden brown clusters, plus whatever toppings and flavourings take your fancy. PREP TIME: 5 MINUTES COOK TIME: 25 MINUTES RESTING TIME: 15 MINUTES…
Baked apple protein oats
Not quite porridge and not quite a cake bar – this baked oats recipe is an alternate gluten free breakfast idea with an added protein powder kick. Mix it up with different berries and a swirl or two of peanut butter.
PREP TIME: 5 MINS
COOK TIME: 20 MINS
TOTAL TIME: 25 MINS
A healthy porridge alternative
I usually get up disgustingly early to work out before heading to the office for the day, so I’ve got into the habit of saving a precious 15 minutes in bed by taking breakfast to work. That being said, I’m not hard-core enough to just chug a post-workout recovery shake and count that as actual food.
Thus began my quest for high protein, portable, gluten free recipes. Porridge was my starting point, mostly because I’ve been eating it for breakfast every day for almost as long as I can remember. When I first got a personal trainer however, he pointed out that this was basically all carbs and not much else. As a result, I’ve been on the lookout for ways to customise oats with some extra healthy fats and protein.
This has been a bit more complicated than I initially thought. Adding protein powder straight to the mix made the consistency pretty gross, and having oats with a side of sausage or eggs felt a bit weird.
Then, during my weekly Sunday session of meal-prep improv, I discovered that baking eggs, oats and protein powder together creates a thick crumpet-like consistency without the need to add any flour, sugar or butter.
This ticks a lot of boxes
- It’s ready in 25 minutes
- Easy to meal-prep in bulk
- Convenient to transport with you
- High in protein
- Low in sugar and fat
Kind of a banger if you ask me.
Protein powder tips
As far as using protein powder goes, you could happily get away with using most types, and probably most flavours too. Being dairy-free, I used unflavoured soya protein isolate powder – however any other vegan or whey based powder should be fine too.
Alternately, if you can tolerate lactose-free dairy, whey isolate protein is probably the most neutral powder you can add. I’ll shortly be releasing a full guide to gluten free, vegan, dairy free and sweetener-free protein powders, as finding ones that work for me has been a bit of a minefield this last year.
Although I tend to opt for unflavoured powders in order to avoid the artificial sweeteners, people who are less fussed should have no problems adding a flavoured powder to this recipe. Your best bet is sticking with delicate flavours that would compliment any oat-based breakfast like vanilla or cinnamon, but feel free to try out some more exciting ones too.
Maybe give the mint choc chip a miss though…
If you want to skip the extra protein
You don’t actually need to include protein powder at all if you don’t want to – just double up the flour content instead.
A lot of people get a bit freaked out at the association with gym buffs who flex at themselves whenever they walk past a mirror. In reality, it’s really just a more convenient way to get enough protein in your diet – particularly if you’re a vegetarian or trying to cut down on your meat intake.
Protein powder when you gain weight easily
For some body types – particularly endomorphs like me who have a tendency to gain fat as soon as they sniff a bit of cake – the best day-to-day diet to follow is one higher in fat and protein but lower in carbs.
The issue with following this kind of diet is that you’ll probably find yourself struggling to get enough protein to curb the hunger from eating less pasta and rice. This is where a scoop of protein powder here and there comes in handy.
Personally, I’m not really a fan of drinking shakes, so recipes like this one which hide the powder in a more edible form is ideal.
Baked protein oats
- Large mixing bowl
- Baking tin or roasting tin
For the base recipe
- 90 g (1 cup) gluten free oats
- 3 scoops protein powder - I use unflavoured vegan powder, but you could use any other type for this recipe
- 3 medium eggs
- 50 ml dairy free milk e.g. coconut or soya
- 1.5 tsp baking powder
- 3 tsp cinnamon
- 2 tsp mixed spice
- 1.5 tsp vanilla extract
- 150 g blueberries
- 1 large apple, chopped into small chunks (I love pink lady apples)
- 100 g almond butter
- 1 tbsp honey or maple syrup - if you like it a bit sweeter
- 3 tbsp dairy free yoghurt/cream equivalent to serve
- Preheat the oven to 175°C or 350°F
- Grease and line a square 6x6 inch roasting tin. If using a shallower baking tin, use a larger size to allow the mixture room to rise
- In a large mixing bowl, whisk the eggs and milk together until slightly fluffy
- Tip in the oats, protein powder, baking powder and (optional) cinnamon, mixed spice and vanilla essence
- Using a metal spoon, stir the mixture together until the lumps of protein powder have disappeared. Don't worry if some small clumps still remain
- Tip in the blueberries and chopped apple and mix gently
- Pour the whole mixture into the tin and bake for 20 minutes, or until golden brown
- Cut into slices and eat warm. If desired, serve together with yoghurt or cream