Michelle Darmody: Granola bars and date slices among healthy treats to bake

— seeds are little bundles of energy and these bars store well in containers
Michelle Darmody: Granola bars and date slices among healthy treats to bake

Granola bar. Healthy sweet dessert snack. Cereal granola bar with nuts, fruit and berries on a white wooden table. Top view.

It is funny how quickly the glint from the Christmas baubles fades away and the desire to get back to eating in a more organised way, without all the sugary treats, takes over. Today’s recipes all have nuts and seeds to provide some extra goodness. Both these bars store well in an airtight container for a few days. They are also easy to pack for school lunches.

Seeds are little bundles of energy with each one containing all it needs to stretch and grow into a plant, with the help of soil, water and sunlight. This makes them particularly nutritious for us to eat. Most health food shops have always sold seeds in generous-sized packets, and now a lot of other shops provide them as well. They are becoming increasing popular in people's diets, as they can be added to smoothies, bakes, cereals, yogurts or eaten just as they are.

The dried fruit slices can crumble if they are not compacted enough prior and during baking. Flattening them before the final few minutes of baking helps to make them denser and easier to cut. Use a sharp knife when portioning them out and if you are having trouble cutting them dipping the blade of the knife in hot water will help.

Dried fruit slices

110g butter

3 tbs honey

50g light muscovado sugar

200g porridge oats

50g hazelnuts, lightly toasted and chopped

50g pumpkin seeds

50g sunflower seeds

50g sesame seeds

50g dried cranberries

50g dried apricots, chopped

Preheat your oven to 160°C and line a 7 by 10 inch tin with parchment.

Gently melt the butter, honey and sugar over a low heat, stir the oats into the saucepan and coat them in the mixture. Remove from the heat and stir in the nuts, seeds and dried fruit.

Scoop the mixture into your prepared tin and flatten it down very well.

Bake for 20 minutes. Remove from the oven and place a sheet of parchment over the bake, press it down again to flatten it, return it to the oven for about ten minutes leaving the parchment on top. It should be light brown in colour when baked. Allow to cool in the tin then slice into bars with a sharp knife.

Treacle and seed bread

100g spelt flour

300g wholewheat strong flour

100g strong white flour

7g dried yeast

1 tbs treacle

280mls warm water

1 tsp sea salt

1 1/2 tbs of olive oil

20g poppy seeds

20g sunflower seeds

20g pumpkin seeds

1 egg yolk

1/2 tbs milk

20g sesame seeds

Add the flours and yeast into a large bowl. Mix the treacle, warm water, oil and salt, add these to the bowl as well. Bring everything together until it forms a dough.

Turn it out onto a lightly oiled surface and knead for about eight minutes until it forms a smooth ball. Place this ball into an oiled bowl and cover with a damp tea towel. Leave to double in size in a warm place.

Preheat your oven to 190°C and oil a 2lb loaf tin.

Knead the dough on an oiled surface again for about five minutes. Add in the poppy seeds, sunflower seeds, and pumpkin seeds until combined. Shape the dough into an oblong shape and place into the prepared tin. Allow to sit in a warm place for a further 30 minutes.

Mix the egg yolk and milk. Brush the top of the loaf with the mixture and sprinkle the sesame seeds on top. Bake for about 45 minutes until golden brown. Once cool enough to handle remove from the tin and allow to cool completely on a wire rack.

Date and seed slices



140g cooking apples, peeled, cored and cubed

110g light muscovado sugar

140g dates, stoned and chopped

210g butter

100g porridge oats

175g plain flour

1 tsp bread soda, sieved

1/2 tsp mixed cake spice, sieved

50g mixed seeds

Preheat your oven to 190°C and line a 7-inch square cake tin with parchment.

Add the apples and half of the sugar into a saucepan, heat gently until the apples have begun to soften, stir in the dates and allow to simmer away for about five minutes. Set aside. If there are large lumps of apple mash these to a pulp.

Melt the butter over a low heat and then stir in the oats, flour, bread soda, spices and the rest of the sugar. Once combined add the date mixture and the seeds. Mix everything well.

Scoop the mixture into your prepared tin and flatten it down. Bake for about 30 minutes until firm. Allow to cool in the tin then cut into slices.

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