Happy Wednesday guys, I hope you are having a good week? Mine has been a mixture of emotions, I wasn’t feeling great at the weekend to be honest, but I’ve managed to reframe my thoughts a little and the week has started off much better. I’ve been sticking to my daily routine of a quick morning yoga, 20 minute meditation whenever I can fit it in and a 5 km run every other day and I am feeling the combined benefits of all three. I am teaching myself to do it even when my mind says ‘no’ as I recognise that it’s just my fear talking and every time I push against it, I notice, almost instantaneously, dividends.
I’m also trying to shed a few extra pandemic-induced kilograms as I have not been feeling good in my body for a while and I am keen on addressing this before it gets out of hand. Even though I’ve never been a fan of calorie counting as I find that I very easily slip into obsessiveness, I’ve been tracking my meals and physical activity for a while now. It’s what helps me realise how much I tend to sabotage my goals with mindless, emotional eating.
Seeing the numbers is the only thing that stops me in my tracks and engages my prefrontal cortex – ‘do you really need to eat? are you actually even hungry?’ Changing lifelong habits isn’t easy (some days I still fail, of course) but it is getting progressively easier and even though I have a long way to go, my goal feels a little more manageable already.
Just to be clear, I am not starving myself by any stretch of imagination – I don’t do that kind of dieting ever. I have 3 healthy meals a day and a small treat as well, which especially if I go for a run, I can totally fit within my daily calorie target. And I am expecting the weight loss to take a long time, that’s okay, I am in no rush. I am not after a quick fix but a lasting change.
Recipewise, I made a tray of no bake granola bars for Duncan as he is off kayaking tomorrow and he and his kayaking mates appreciate a treat after a long day on the water and I appreciate the bars being as far from me as possible 😉 , especially that they are the kind of things I like to mindlessly snack on.
They are really simple to make and can be made entirely on the stove. I used a selection of nuts, seeds and puffed rice, bound together with salty almond caramel and topped with a thin layer of dark chocolate. They are easy to make and a great mid-afternoon snack. I hope you’ll enjoy these.
- 130 g / 1 cup almonds, divided
- 43 g / 1/3 cup sunflower seeds
- 45 g / 1/3 cup pumpkin seeds
- 15 g / ½ cup puffed rice
- ¼ cup low-sugar cranberries
- 80 ml / 1/3 cup maple syrup
- 45 g / 3 tbsp almond butter
- 30 ml / 2 tbsp almond (or other plant) milk
- ¼ tsp salt
- 100 g / 3½ oz vegan dark chocolate (optional)
- OPTIONAL BUT RECOMMENDED: Place the first three ingredients on a baking tray and roast them in a 160° C / 320° F oven for about 10 minutes, until fragrant and lightly golden. Alternatively, toast on a large frying pan. Allow to cool down.
- While the nuts and seeds are roasting, line a baking tin* with a piece of baking paper so that a generous amount of it hangs out of the tin on both sides.
- Chop almonds up, keep one quarter of them aside for decoration and combine the rest with the sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds, puffed rice and cranberries.
- Gently heat up maple syrup in a large frying pan until it starts foaming all over.
- Allow maple syrup to foam for a minute before whisking in almond butter. Carry on whisking until almond butter dissolves into the maple syrup completely. Add almond milk and salt. Carry on cooking the mixture until it foams for about 1 minute.
- Stir warm maple syrup mixture through the dry ingredients making sure everything is well coated.
- Transfer the mixture to a paper lined baking tin. Compress it really well – that’s a very important step! I used a flat bottomed ¼ cup measuring cup to press the mixture down really well.
- Finally, weigh it down (I used 3 cans of beans on their sides, a chopping board and a pot filled with water) – good compression is key to the bars staying together.
- Once the bars are set, melt chocolate over a water bath slowly. Spread melted chocolate over the bars and sprinkle with leftover chopped almonds. Allow it to set completely.
- Cut the slab into individual bars with a very sharp knife. Store in an airtight container.