Michelle Darmody: Baking to start the year

I know it is a cliché, but I do feel like stretching myself out after the indulgence of December, to start to air out the cobwebs with brisk walks or runs in the park.

It’s not always easy to motivate yourself, but a nice cup of tea and a biscuit on your return is one good incentive. Adding seeds and nuts into the biscuit dough will help replace some of the energy used. Seeds are a great source of nutrients, but also of dietary fibre, vitamins, minerals, and amino acids.

There are a huge variety of seeds available to eat: flaxseeds, sesame seeds, pumpkin seeds, sunflower, hemp, chia, and many more. I usually make up a mixture of these and add them to breads, biscuit dough or to a batch of homemade granola.

Eating a whole food diet that contains plenty of nuts, seeds, whole vegetables, and grains is considered the best way to stay healthy.

The fruit and nut bars are a good mid-morning pick-me-up. They are quite rich and dense, so the recipe goes a long way.

I would usually cut it up into about seven slices. It can be a bit difficult to blend the mixture, as it sticks to the blades of the liquidiser. By chopping all of the ingredients beforehand, you will save time in the long run.

Fruit and nut morning bars

150g of dates, destoned and chopped

75g of dried figs, chopped

30g of prunes, chopped

50g of mixed dried fruit

100g of cashew nuts, roughly chopped

50g almonds roughly chopped

30g of mixed seeds

Line a lunch box with baking parchment.

Place everything except the seeds into a blender and blitz until a rough paste. You will have to stir it with a spoon a few times as the paste will be sticky.

Add in the seeds towards the end. Scoop the sticky paste from the blender and press it into the lined lunchbox.

Place some parchment over the top and place into the fridge to firm up. Cut into slices.

Seed bread

100g of wholemeal coarse flour

150g of plain flour

150g of spelt flour

50g of porridge oats

50g of wheatgerm

1 tsp of bread soda

1 level tsp of fine sea salt

350ml of buttermilk

1 egg, lightly beaten

1 tsp of honey

100g of mixed seeds

Preheat your oven to 200 line the base of it with a strip of parchment that is longer than the tin.

Mix the flours, porridge, and wheat germ together in a large bowl. Sieve in the bread soda and salt and stir them in well.

Mix the buttermilk, egg, and honey together. Make a well in the dry ingredients and stir in the wet mixture.

When everything is combined, stir in the seeds. Scoop the mixture into the prepared tin and bake for about 50 minutes until it is golden on top and a skewer comes out clean.

Use the ends of the baking parchment to help you ease the loaf from the tin and allow to cool on a wire rack.

Oat and seed energy biscuits

250g of soft butter

100g of soft golden sugar

1 tsp of powdered ginger

150g of self-raising flour

225g of porridge oats

50g of dates, de-stoned and chopped

60g of mixed seeds

50g of almonds, chopped

50g of hazelnuts, chopped

Preheat your oven to 180 degrees and line a baking tray with parchment.

Beat butter and sugar until fluffy Stir in flour, oats and mix well. Add the dates, seeds and chopped nuts and stir them in until combined.

Roll into logs, cover in baking parchment and refrigerate. The logs can be easily sliced with a warm knife to the size you want, you should easily get 24 snack size biscuits.

Bake for 25 minutes until they are turning golden. Allow cooling on the tray for ten minutes then transfer to a wire rack.

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