Nut, chia seed and raisin bars

Nut, chia seed and raisin bars

With the Covid-19 crisis affecting our shopping habits and availability of ingredients, I found that the various nut bars I often relied on for breakfast or a quick mid-afternoon snack were not always available in the shops.

I therefore decided to have a go at making my own. I have made these a few times now and they’re a big hit with the whole family, including hubby who doesn’t usually like eating nut bars.

Please note you can use whichever nuts you like – I love cashew nuts and started making them with just those, but they are very expensive (I had a look at the price of bulk bags of pistachios and they were even worse, so I’ll stear clear of those…shame, as I love pistachios!), so now I mix cashews and peanuts and the bars are equally delicious.

Nut, chia seed and raisin bars (makes approx. 14-16 bars)

  • 600g unsalted, unroasted nuts (I use blanched peanuts and raw cashew nuts, which I buy in bulk 1kg bags, but you can use whichever nuts take your fancy!)
  • 50g raisins
  • 70g chia seeds
  • 150g white chocolate (I use Callebaut white chocolate callets as they melt really well in the microwave, but any good quality chocolate that withstands melting and chilling well will work. I buy these in bulk… my latest purchase was a 2.5kg bag, which is dangerous in a house full of chocoholics!)
  • A generous sprinkling of fine sea salt

How to make nut, chia seed and raisin bars

Line a deep baking tray / cake pan with greaseproof paper (mine is 32cm long, 21cm wide and 5cm high, but use whatever you have available as long as it allows for a suitable depth for nut bars). I find it helps to grease the pan with butter or margarine to allow the paper to stick to it and stay flat and in place.

Heat up a large non-stick frying pan on a high heat, then add the cashew nuts and peanuts (or other nuts of your choice). As they start warming up, stir them frequently and as an oily sheen starts to appear, sprinkle them liberally with fine sea salt. Continue to stir frequently as they start to roast. I like the uneven roasting of doing this in a pan, where some are blackened in some parts and lightly golden in others, but it is a matter of personal preference / taste. For a more even roasting, you may wish to do this part in the oven.

While the nuts are roasting, melt the chocolate in the microwave (with the Callebaut chocolate I use, it takes about 2 minutes on high, stirring halfway through – different chocolate may behave differently though and to be on the safe side, you may want to do this more gently in a bain marie, with a bowl over a pan of hot water, letting the steam do the job).

Transfer nuts, raisins and chia seeds into a large mixing bowl and add the melted chocolate, stirring to make sure all the ingredients are well mixed, then transfer into your lined baking tray while still warm. Spread the mix out as evenly as possible and refrigerate for at least a couple of hours or overnight.

Once the giant nut bar is well chilled and solid, take it out of the tray, remove the greaseproof paper and place it on a large chopping board. Using a large knife or cleaver, cut it into 14-16 nut bars. Some small pieces will simply break off, but that’s ok – don’t waste them. Stick them in a bowl and eat them as a snack ūüôā

  • Nut, chia seed and raisin bars

Nut, chia seed and raisin bars – Gloriously Simple, Gloriously Good!

Linguine Cacio e Pepe

Cacio e Pepe pasta

Cacio e Pepe (Cheese and Pepper) is a simple, yet delicious way to serve pasta.  It is a typical dish from Rome, and can be served with spaghetti, linguine, or even short pasta such as rigatoni.

On this occasion, I made Linguine Cacio e Pepe.

Linguine Cacio e Pepe

Ingredients – Linguine Cacio e Pepe for 4 people

  • 500g Linguine
  • 200g Pecorino Romano cheese
  • Generous amount of freshly-ground black pepper
  • Drop of oil and fistful of salt for the pasta cooking water

Method

Put a large pan with water, a drop of oil and a fistful of salt on the hob and bring to the boil.  I usually advocate using the largest possible stockpot style pan for pasta cooking, but this recipe works best if you have very starchy water, so use a slightly smaller (but still ample) pan / less water than you usually would for pasta.

Once the water is boiling, add the pasta, stir after a minute or so, and occasionally during cooking, to ensure it doesn’t stick together.

While the pasta is cooking, finely grate the pecorino cheese.¬† The key to this recipe is the cheese.¬† Make sure you use a good quality pecorino romano and that you grate it as finely as you can – this will enable you to create the creamy sauce.¬† If the cheese is too coarsely grated, it won’t go creamy and will clump instead.

Grind plenty of black pepper into the pecorino.  How much you use, will depend on taste, but you are ideally aiming for a speckled look to the cheese, and for a good peppery kick to the sauce.

Once the pasta is nearly cooked (about a minute before it’s done), take a bit of water out of the pan with a ladle and stir it into the cheese with a fork.¬† Add a bit at a time (half a ladle or less) and stir each time, until you achieve the desired creamy consistency.

Cacio e pepe - the creamy 'sauce' consistency

This is what you are aiming for with the pecorino, pepper and cooking water.

Once the pasta is cooked, nicely ‘al dente’, drain it and immediately stir it through the cheese.

Serve onto pasta bowls and, if you wish, add a bit more freshly-ground black pepper.

Cacio e pepe pasta.  Gloriously Simple.  Gloriously Good! 

No Tomato Bolognese | Reflux-friendly Bolognese | Low-Fat Bolognese

This sauce is an alternative to traditional bolognese sauce, using roasted sweet pepper sauce instead of tomatoes.

It is not only reflux*-friendly and low-fat, but so delicious, I think I might actually like it more than traditional bolognese sauce!!!

I am usually very critical of using garlic in a bolognese sauce – it should just be ‘soffritto’ (finely chopped carrots, celery and onions, fried off in olive oil), beef, tomatoes and salt. ¬†And of course if, as a reflux sufferer, garlic affects you, then you can make the roasted sweet pepper sauce without garlic – simply roast the peppers with a drizzle of olive oil and a sprinkling of fine sea salt (don’t use herbs as they’ll affect the taste of the bolognese sauce!). ¬†But, if you can tolerate roasted garlic, then it’s well worth sticking to using it in the pepper sauce as it adds extra depth of flavour.

no tomato bolognese | reflux friendly bolognese | low-fat bolognese | bolognese with roasted sweet pepper sauce

Ingredients:

  • Roasted sweet pepper sauce (Make this in advance and refrigerate or freeze before using – this will make the cooking process for the sauce very quick! – and make it slightly runnier than usual, using approximately 200-250ml of chicken or vegetable stock when blending/’cleaning out’ the blender. ¬†How much sauce you use¬†in your bolognese¬†will depend on how meaty or ‘saucy’ you like it¬†– if you haven’t previously frozen the roasted pepper sauce, you can freeze any you don’t use.)
  • 500g lean minced beef (I use 5% fat minced beef)
  • 1 medium onion, finely chopped (leave out the onion if this affects your reflux)
  • a sprinkling of sea salt
  • 1tbsp olive oil

Method: 

If you have already made the roasted sweet pepper sauce, the bolognese is very quick to make, so put on your pasta water (with a good handful of coarse sea salt and a drop of oil, of course) before you start.  Your sauce will be ready even before your pasta is cooked.

Place the finely-chopped onions in a non-stick saut√© pan with the oil and cook¬†on a medium heat for approximately 5 minutes, making sure the onions don’t brown – stir frequently and get them to the point where they are translucent and mostly cooked. ¬†(Skip this step if your reflux prevents you from using onions)

Turn the heat up to high and add the minced meat with a sprinkling of salt. ¬†Separate the meat as you brown it, making sure it doesn’t form big clumps.

Once the meat is browned, add enough roasted sweet pepper sauce to get the desired sauce consistency.  Turn the heat down and simmer for 5 minutes, until the sauce is piping hot and the meat is cooked through.

Serve with your pasta – cooked ‘al dente’, of course!

Gloriously simple, Gloriously Low-Fat, Gloriously Low-Cal, Gloriously Reflux-Friendly, Gloriously Good!

*Please note I am not a doctor, speech therapist or in any way medically qualified. ¬†The recipes are a combination of my interpretation of the rules outlined in the ‚ÄėDropping Acid ‚Äď The Reflux Diet‚Äô book and ingredients that work for my reflux. ¬†If you believe you suffer from reflux, please seek advice from a medical professional to confirm your diagnosis and work out the best course of treatment/management for you. ¬†I hope that my recipes can help you as part of this management. ¬†The recipes are, by their nature, very low in fat, so are also suitable for anyone wishing to follow a low-fat diet.¬†