Summer flew by way to fast!
One minute I was crying at leavers service at the end of last term, the next I was back at the school gate with that horrid feeling off saying goodbye and coming home to a quiet house. Admittedly only for a day, but still I'm no fan of an empty nest. We had a lot of fun over the summer and had way too much food and booze! But we did have some real laughs. Thank you to all involved, you are my besties without fail.
Just before I tell you what I am here to do: last weekend we hosted a party here, organised by a bunch of wonderfully organised ladies, it was 18 months of confinement released in one night where I saw nearly 300 people go utterly bonkers! So much fun - we danced and laughed all night long. My feet still hurt and it is Thursday - carnage was had but wow it felt good!
Back to business:
18 months living a life we never thought we'd live. It has caused pain, sorrow and a mass of different crazy emotions we probably thought we never had. With this in mind, I was asked to cook at a retreat for 14 ladies a couple of weeks ago. For most, this was their first time out and certainly the first time with more than a handful of people as company - a daunting experience. My brief was to cook nourishing food that would taste good and make them full so they could concentrate on their tasks throughout the retreat. All the food had to have different textures, different tastes and be gluten, onion and dairy free to cater for all allergies. It took a few weeks of research but I took on the challenge and learnt a lot. The result - they loved the food, were so appreciative and I think I taught all the ladies that you can eat healthy food without expense, it doesn't have to be difficult to cook and it can taste really good.
An example menu of the day:
Scrambled Eggs with Avocado Toast, Fruit Salad, Greek Yoghurt and Homemade Granola
(Snack) Oat Raisin Cookies, Fruit Sticks, Energy Balls
Tomato Soup, Roast Veg and Halloumi Tray Bake, Potato Wedges
(Snack) Banana Bread
Chicken Tikka Masala/Veggie Curry, Fruit Compote, Yoghurt & Crumbled Brown Sugar Meringue.
As a treat, all the ladies will be getting a copy of the recipes in my new lovely, branded folders. But the main focus of the week was the Granola! I have had so many requests for this its bonkers. So... here for the last time is the recipe! My advice would be, make lots as it goes quickly and lasts really well in an airtight jar.
225g mixed raw nuts
1tsp fine grain sea salt
120ml olive oil or melted coconut oil (I use olive oil as my lot don't like coconut oil)
170g maple syrup or honey or a mixture of both (Aldi Maple Syrup is delicious and cheaper)
120 / 150g dried fruit - I use raisins and dried cranberries. Again it is personal preference. I look at my tray and add more if I think it needs it.
***I use about 110g/120g of honey and maple syrup as I'm not a fan of it being too sweet***
Step 1 - Measure everything out.
Step 2 - Warm the honey/maple syrup with the oil and gently whisk until it has combined together.
Step 3 - Line a baking tray with parchment then tip the oats onto the baking tray.
Step 4 - Add the nuts and salt. Stir to combine with the oats. Pour over the oil/honey mixture and really make sure everything gets well coated.
Step 5 - Now press down well - this makes sure you get those nice crunchy clumps.
Step 6 - Cook in oven 175c for 45 mins - half way through give it a stir. When you take it out it should look golden brown.
Step 7 - Take it out of the oven and leave to cool totally before you touch it.
Step 8 - Pop into a jar or a well sealed container and tuck in.
Top tip: I sometimes make it in little bags for my friends who love it. Or it freezes really well in a freezer bag!