– by Jo Pratt

I do love a coffee morning, whether it’s with a bunch of my favourite friends when we’ve a day off work at the same time, or a more formally arranged one through my kids’ school. It is a perfect chance for everyone to relax over a cuppa, catch up on the news and of course the latest gossip! More often than not breakfast will have been skipped by most, in anticipation for some delicious goodies to tuck into. Recently I’ve noticed that we’re much more conscious of what we eat and prefer to go for a healthier option when available. A bowl of granola and fresh berries or a fruity muffin will be chosen, rather than the slightly more indulgent offerings such as croissant, pastries and chocolate muffins.

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Apple, Cranberry and Walnut Gluten-Free Loaf

Only the other day I had a text from a friend who was hosting a coffee morning at the end of the week and she couldn’t work out what food to offer. Many of her friends had specifically requested that she doesn’t tempt them with any ‘naughty’ treats. My friends usual flying visit to the bakery on her way back from the Friday morning school run was out of the picture and she needed some help.

So it became a case of ‘Jo to the rescue’ and I responded with some simple healthier alternatives to keep her and her friends satisfied. I thought I’d share with you some suggestions I gave her. You may or may not plan on hosting a coffee morning anytime soon, but these recipe ideas are good to know for any occasion when you are in the mood for some healthy food.

  • Blend up a big jug of smoothie and sit the jug in a bowl of ice to keep chilled then everyone can help themselves when they arrive. My current favourite is Blackberry and Gogi Berry Smoothie. To make this, put 50g/1¾oz gogi berries in a bowl and add just enough water to cover. Leave to soak overnight then all you have to do the next morning is thoroughly blitz in a blender along with 450g/1lb blackberries (fresh or defrosted frozen ones), 4 ripe bananas and 450ml/16floz/2 cups almond milk. If you prefer cows milk can be used though the almond milk does give this smoothie a delicious mild creamy nutty flavour, and ticks the ‘dairy-free’ box for those who need it. Makes 6 medium sized glasses.
  • Whip up some sugar-free Pear, Pecan and Spelt Cookies. These really are one of the quickest and healthiest biscuits I’ve made and the results are amazing. Simply grate 1 ripe pear (or apple if you wish) directly into a bowl and discard the core. Mix in 100g/3½oz spelt flour, 50g/1¾oz oats, ½ tsp each of baking powder and ground ginger, 50g/1¾oz roughly chopped pecan nuts (walnuts are nice too), 60ml/2floz/ ¼ cup each of maple syrup and rapeseed or melted coconut oil. Spoon 12 dollops onto baking trays, flatten slightly and bake at 180C/350F/gas 4 for 18-20 minutes until golden.
  • Apple, Cranberry and Walnut Gluten-Free Loaf. Preheat the oven to 180ºC/350ºF/gas 4 and lightly oil a 1kg/2lb 4oz loaf pan. Combine the flour, bicarbonate of soda/baking soda, cinnamon and salt in a large mixing bowl. Stir in the grated apples and chopped cranberries and walnuts, reserving a small amount of the walnuts to scatter over the top of the loaf.
    In a separate bowl or jug, mix together the apple juice, egg, melted butter and honey, then pour into the bowl with the flour. Gently mix together, making sure you don’t overmix so that you have a lighter loaf when cooked. Spoon the mixture into the prepared loaf pan. Scatter the reserved walnuts and the oats over the top. Bake for 40–45 minutes, or until the top is lightly golden and a skewer inserted into the middle of the loaf comes out clean. Leave to cool in the pan for 10 minutes before serving warm or turning out onto a wire/cooling rack to cool completely.

All of these recipes are adapted or taken from In the mood for Healthy Food, my exciting new cookbook, which is bursting with achievable, simple, and deliciously nutritious dishes that are good for you inside and out. Released on 16th July 2015, so not too long to wait!

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Jo Pratt
In the Mood for Healthy Food
Available from Nourish Books in July 2015

 

 

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