Banana oat bars

As requested (hi, Karen! 🙂 ), here’s a super-easy recipe that you can modify to suit your own tastes.

I love this as a way to use up over-ripe bananas – the riper the banana, the sweeter the recipe. It also feels super-healthy, as far as snacks go, and can be made with as little as two ingredients: oats and banana. Easy to remember, too: 1 cup oats for every banana! The size of the banana is important, of course: if it’s large then add a little bit more of the oats, until the mixture is quite stiff (why does this post feel like a Carry On script!?!).

That seems a little dull, though, so I tend to add chopped dried apricots – tip: ‘chop’ the apricots with scissors, much easier than a knife – sultanas (slightly juicier than raisins) or dried cherries (goes really well if you add a smallish amount of ground almonds).

My last batch also saw me experiment with adding golden syrup. The extra sweetness isn’t really needed, but it’s a nice addition if you’re willing to forego a little of the healthy feel.

In the pic above, I should point out that the baking tray used is super-tiny: about 6×4 inches, I think. Line it well with greaseproof paper, as the mix does stick quite a lot!

Alternatively, when I’ve done a double batch (2 bananas), I get enough mix to use a bigger tray and a silicone sheet – this is perfect, as the whole result just peels off! For that, I use a normal-sized baking sheet and don’t try to push the mix into the edges (see pic below). If doing this, it’s important to keep the mixture as non-runny as possible, and don’t press the edges down too thin, or they’ll burn before the middle is cooked.

I would recommend keeping the mix reasonably thin – about half an inch? – to stop the middle feeling a little gloopy. That’s matter of taste, though, as I got complaints with that batch about the edges being a little chewy! You can’t win, but at least this recipe is easy enough for repeat trials!

Enjoy 🙂

Veggie shepherd’s pie

assembling the pie pic

Happy Easter! To balance out all that chocolate (I suspect!) the supermarkets have all had offers on their fresh veg this past week, so an excellent time to stock up on soup ingredients. And to balance out all that chocolate (I know! ;)) a perfect time for some more veggies-as-main-courses, too. This Veggie Shepherd’s Pie is a perfect healthy and hearty, warming dish with the added benefit of a whole lot of flexibility! Make it all at once, freeze it, or make the sauce separately and add fresh sweet potato when you’re ready to eat. I made this a month ago, eating a single portion of the four. This can feel like a long-to-make meal – it’s not really, but anything with more than one step can be too much effort, right? 😉 Making the sauce – chop carrots and bung stuff into a pan for a while; making the topping – if you dice the sweet potato it cooks in 15 minutes or less; and finally assembling (tip: press the mash on rather than trying to spread it, which moves the base in a messy way) and baking.

The other three portions of the sauce base went into the freezer (in individual portions) so today I could defrost the sauce and use up one of my fresh bag of sweet potatoes (the rest went into a Sweet Potato and Chilli soup – nom!). I both defrosted and heated the base in the microwave, so it was warm under the new mash, and the whole thing only took 20 minutes in the oven, and around 40 minutes total. Had I cooked the whole thing from frozen, it would have taken 40 minutes in the oven, so either approach has benefits. At least this way I didn’t have to find quite as much space in my freezer, and didn’t ‘lose’ a dish in the meantime! I’m sure I could find other uses for that base sauce – it’s very tasty! It’s also a great way to use up carrots, and – as the recipe notes say – the secret to this dish is making sure you leave a little firmness and ‘bite’ in the carrots, rather than letting them cook to mush. The green lentils also add to the heartiness, while just a small amount of red lentils soak up any extra juices. I’d recommend the sweet potato over regular – in fact, I may have to try that more in general, as it is a healthier choice – as it goes so well with the flavours here, adding that bit of sweet to the red wine and herb richness, and the slight tang from the cheese sprinkles. Veggie Shepherd's Pie photo