Week one of Plastic Free July (read about what this is and why we’re doing it here), and we’re going relatively well so far, although I must admit that it has been a little more challenging than I first thought it would be. Our original plan was to try and reduce our plastics as much as possible, as well as cut back on food waste. We haven’t committed to no plastic but we are trying to reduce our waste as much as possible. At the end of the first week all we have in our (newspaper-lined!) bin is some empty medication packaging (the dog’s – she’s on antibiotics for a skin infection and no way around the plastic packaging here), two empty dishwasher tablet wraps (I bought the ones in a cardboard box not realising the tables themselves would be individually wrapped, doh!), some tofu packaging (I’ve never seen tofu that doesn’t come in plastic packaging so not sure of a way around this?) and an empty apple bag which was the result of an impromptu roadside purchase.
All other waste has been cardboard or glass packaging which we are either reusing or recycling, and veggie scraps which we are composting. I have also started a collection of veggie scraps in the freezer to turn into stock – I’ll keep you posted how this turns out!
One area which I’ve personally struggled is with snacks at work. On occasion (which I’d like to say is once a month or so, but if I’m being honest, lately it’s closer to once a week) I’ll grab a chocolate bar from the “candy corner” at work. They are plastic-wrapped though, and therefore I’m trying to avoid them this month which I think will be a good habit to form for a number of reasons! So instead of chocolate bars, I’ve been more organised and making a variety of treats to snack on, and one of our favorites are these pantry bars. We’ve been snacking on a variation of these on and off over the past few months and they are somewhat of a staple in our house now.
They are infinitely adaptable, super tasty, and can work out to be quite cheap, a factor not normally synonymous with raw wholefoods bars! They are also the perfect way to use up over-ripe bananas, or any past-it’s-prime fruit – simply stew apples, pears, quinces etc and use instead of the bananas to help bind the dry ingredients.
– MAKE IT YOUR OWN –
This is the perfect recipe to make your own, as you can easily sub in and out whatever you have on hand. Obviously I haven’t tried every imaginable combination, but everything I have has worked well!
- I love puffed grains in these bars and you could really use any variety – rice, millet, quinoa etc or a combination. If you don’t have puffed grains, try raw or toasted buckwheat groats, rolled oats (or any other rolled grains, eg rye, spelt etc)
- I usually make these with mashed banana as my main source of sweetness, and only add a little honey, but you could increase the amount of sweetner to suit your own tastes.
- Im not a fan of dried fruit in these types of bars, but you could easily add in sultanas, raisins, goji berries etc
- Want them extra chocolatey? Add some cacao powder (I’d start with about two tablespoons) to the mix (melt in with the oil and nut butter) and/or stir through some chopped chocolate
- Grain free? Just add extra coconut, nuts, seeds etc instead of the puffed/rolled grains
The recipe below lists a more generic guide first, and then my favorite mix below. The method is the same for either variation.
- 2½ cups mixed dry ingredients (Puffed grains, rolled whole grains, chopped nuts, seeds, shredded coconut, cacao nibs etc)
- ¼ cup oil (eg coconut oil, melted butter)
- ¼ cup nut or seed butter
- ½ cup pureed fruit (mashed banana, apple puree, pumpkin puree)
- 2 - 3 Tbsp sweetener, optional
- ½ tsp salt
- A few squares (approx 30g) dark chocolate for drizzling
- 1½ cups mixed puffed grains
- ½ cup shredded coconut
- ¼ cup chopped peanuts
- ¼ cup cacao nibs
- ¼ cup coconut oil
- ¼ cup peanut butter
- 2 - 3 very ripe, mashed bananas
- 1 Tbsp raw honey
- ½ tsp salt
- 30g dark chocolate for drizzling
- In a small saucepan, add the oil, nut butter, sweetener and salt. Stir over a very low heat until combined - it should be fairly runny at this point.
- Add all dry ingredients to a large bowl and combine. Pour in the melted nut butter mix and stir, and then fold through the fruit puree.
- Pour into a small, lined tin (I use a loaf pan) and pat down so that the top is flat. Place into the freezer while you prepare the chocolate.
- In the same small saucepan, add the chocolate and melt over a very low heat, being careful not to overheat it. I usually hold the saucepan above the hot plate so that the heat is as low as possible.
- Remove the tray from the freezer, drizzle with the chocolate, and then return to the freezer to set, usually around 1 - 2 hours.
- Cut into small bars or squares, and store in an airtight container in the freezer.