Tuesday, 13 December 2011

Brain bars

As my zen diet is focussed on maximizing the healthy foods in your diet it's a good time for me to look up some new recipes and dig out some old favourites focussed around some superfood ingredients.

One such ingredient on my hit list this month is the humble walnut. Packed with vitamin E, omega 3 fats and antioxidants it is a superfood for the brain helping protect the brain's delicate fatty tissue. Infact a recent study based on feeding students with banana bread with or without ground walnuts in it, found that daily walnut consumption over eight weeks increased their results in mental reasoning tests by 11per cent - pretty impressive.

Unfortunately it's not one of my favourite nuts by a long way, but it is one of the most beneficial. Consequently, whilst I wouldn't enjoy eating a bag of them, I will add them chopped to salads, risottos, muesli and breakfast cereals as a booster. Mixed in with other foods I find I actually enjoy them.

Another great way to incorporate them is in a homemade snack bar. I've been making these breakfast bars from Elanas pantry for ages, but recently have started playing around with the ingredients and made a Christmas version with chopped walnuts, allspice and dried cranberries (see below, original recipe is on
my recipe page). Even my mum, with her high taste standards, enjoyed them and will be making them as her new hiking snack!

You can pretty much subsitute any nuts/seeds for the seeds in this recipe and use any dried fruit instead of the cranberries. Just stick to the same volumes. Enjoy!

ps It appears that along with all you lovely people, Santa also reads NITC, as he delivered all the books on my Christmas list ... Lucky me! Thank you Santa :-)

Christmas nut snack bars:

1 ¼ cup ground almonds

1/8 teaspoon celtic sea salt (I used Solo low sodium salt)

¼ teaspoon baking soda

1 teaspoon allspice

¼ cup grapeseed oil

¼ cup agave nectar

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 cup walnuts

½ cup flaked almonds

¼ cup dried cranberries

In a small bowl, combine almond flour, allspice, salt and baking soda

In a large bowl, combine grapeseed oil, agave and vanilla

Stir dry ingredients into wet

Mix in walnuts, almond slivers and cranberries

Grease an 8x8 baking dish with grapeseed oil (I used a 1lb loaf tin)

Press the dough into the baking dish, wetting your hands with water to help pat the dough down evenly

Bake at 180°C for 20 minutes (until firm and golden coloured)

Cut into bars and allow to cool before taking out the tin

Makes 6-8 bars

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