If you've been following this blog for a while, you'll know that each month I like to play along at the Secret Recipe Club. The club has over a hundred members, divided into four groups, and each month one member is assigned (in secret) to another member from their group. That person then selects a recipe (or more) to make, photograph, and prepare a blog post - all in secret. Then everyone in the group posts their recipe on the same day, and of course the secret is then out. It's a always a thrill to find out who has posted something from your own blog, and is a great way to meet and discover some new blogs. If you are a food blogger and interested in joining the Secret Recipe Club, be sure to check out the Join SRC page.
This month I was assigned to A Kitchen Hoor's Adventures, hosted by Christine, who says she has been in the kitchen since she could see over the counter-top. Christine's cooking and baking took a healthy twist a few years back when she joined Weight Watchers and lost about 100 pounds - wow, just wow! Christine loves to cook healthy, low-fat fare for her husband and dog, Missy, and she even appeared on Emeril Live with her Elegant Sweet Potato Skins.
Christine's blog has an easy to use recipe index (something I always like to see on a good blog), which made searching through the hundreds of recipes she has posted very easy, and there were plenty of great looking dishes that appealed to me. I've bookmarked a few to try at a later date: Roasted Mushroom & Goat Cheese Alfredo, Portobello Stroganoff, (clearly I have a thing for mushrooms and pasta), and Peanut Ginger Stir-Fry over Soba Noodles. In the end though, I'm always looking for something for a quick and easy breakfast-on-the-run, and it was Christine's Cranberry Pumpkin Breakfast Cookies that were calling to me.
I'm ashamed to admit that breakfast, along with a cup of coffee, is often something that happens in the car on the way to work these day, so these were ticking all the right boxes for me - packed with enough wholesome goodness to see me through to lunchtime, and very portable.
I did make a couple of very small changes to the original recipe. Firstly, the recipe calls for canned pumpkin puree. This is something which is simply not available in my country, so I steamed up some fresh pumpkin and then mashed up the required amount. Secondly the recipe uses egg substitute, but I just used a regular egg. Also I didn't have all the spices that Christine used in her recipe, so I just swapped it out for mixed spice. And lastly, because I am an inherently lazy person, instead of spending time forming the mixture into little balls to make cookies, I just pushed the whole lot into a slice tin and made them into bars.
These bars have great texture, with nice bits of crunch coming through from the toasted quinoa and sunflower seeds, and lovely bursts of flavour from the cranberries. I don't have a particularly sweet tooth, but did feel I would have liked a little more sweetness, and next time around (yes there will definitely be a next time) I'm going to try adding a bit of honey or maple syrup. This time around though I added a chocolate topping. This added just that little something I was looking for, and let's face it who doesn't want to start the day with a little bit of chocolate! This also enables you to pass off what is really a very healthy little snack as something slightly more indulgent - "put some chocolate on top of it and they'll never know they're eating something healthy" are words to live by!
Chocolate Cranberry Pumpkin Breakfast Bars Recipe
Adapted, just barely, from this recipe
from A Kitchen Hoor's Adventures
For the bars:
1 cup pureed pumpkin
1/4 cup apple sauce
2-1/2 teaspoons mixed spice
2 cups jumbo rolled oats
1/2 cup toasted quinoa
1 cup dried cranberries
1/2 cup sunflower seeds
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 egg, lightly beaten
For the topping:
100g (3-1/2 oz) cacao butter, gently melted
30g (1 oz) cacao powder
1/4 cup honey or maple syrup
Preheat oven to 180 degrees C (350 degrees F), and lightly grease a 32cm x 18cm (13in x 7in) slice tin.
In a large mixing bowl, combine all of the ingredients for the bars. Once everything is thoroughly combined, empty everything into the slice tin and press well, evening out the surface.
Bake in the preheated oven for 15 to 20 minutes (mine took about 18 minutes), until golden brown.
Remove from the oven and set tin on a wire rack. Leave to cool completely.
Mix topping ingredients together well, pour over the top of the slice, and then set in the fridge until the topping has set.
Slice into bars and enjoy - on the run or at your leisure!
I hope you enjoy this dish as much as I did, and visit the links below to check out all the other great dishes my Secret Recipe Club friends made.