Around back to school time, there is always the problem of thinking up new ideas for lunchtime. As an alternative to commercial snack bars, we found a recipe in the Guardian in August (sent in by Susanna Booth, widecirclecooking.com) for solid, cake-like bars that have no added sugar. The recipe was designed to be gluten-free, using rice flour and gluten-free baking powder.
We don’t bother to go gluten-free with the baking powder but we do use rice flour because it makes a soft bar, although self-raising flour tastes good too. The baking powder is not the only adaptable ingredient in the recipe, you can play around with the fruit too. The original recipe calls for apricots and raisins, but we have made it with dates, glace cherries, mixed peel, cranberries and sultanas. One apple and a large banana are also used in the recipe but we successfully substituted a pear for the apple in one variation. We no longer peel the apple, which means the fibre is retained. Mixed seeds or poppy seeds work instead of just sunflower seeds and cashews are tasty in place of the hazelnuts. We also plan to try walnuts and almonds.
Our version of the bars
- 1 large banana
- 1 large apple/pear
- 75g dried fruit (apricots, raisins, cranberries etc)
- 75g brown rice flour
- 1 tsp baking powder
- 25g unsweetened desiccated coconut
- 1 tbsp margarine
- 2 tbsp nuts
- 50g seeds
1. Preheat the oven to 160C/325F/gas mark 3.
2. Mash banana and margarine together.
3. Chop dried fruit, core and grate apple, add to mixture.
4. Grind seeds and nuts in a coffee grinder or food processer until they are mostly powder, this is optional but unground nuts make the bars crumblier and less solid.
5. Mix all ingredients together well, by hand or with a spoon depending on preference.
6. Press into a greased 900g loaf tin and bake for 30 minutes.
7. Slice when cool. I find squares are more practical than fingers, the mix will make about eight of either.
Drop us a line in the comment box if you have any other handy lunch box recipes, something that’s tried and tested…