Clumpy Gingerbread Granola

One of the gifts we received for Christmas was a 6 month subscription to the Raw Spice Bar company. We get 3 spice mixes sent to us every month, with recipe ideas for each. It’s been a fantastic gift! One of the packets that came in the post last month was a German Gingerbread spice mix (a mixture of ginger, coriander, cinnamon, allspice, nutmeg, black peppercorns, cloves, mace and star anise). There were a few different recipes that were suggested, but the one that really caught my eye was for a Gingerbread Granola.

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Jonty is taking a 5-week welding course, which has him tied up on Saturdays. So I’ve been spending that time keeping the apartment warm by making sure the oven in constant use, trying out new recipes. Some recipes have been pretty great, others have been meh. This was a really good one.

I tweaked the Raw Spice Bar’s version slightly, by adding more variety of nuts and seeds, and decreasing the amount of sugar originally called for. I don’t like granola super-sweet, and I think this ended up being the perfect balance between salty-and-sweet and slightly-spicy (I think due to the freshly ground dried ginger).

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Do you like your granola super chunky and crunchy and clumpy? I’m definitely in that camp. There’s something extremely satisfying about munching on a big nugget of granola. And when you get one of those pieces that is flecked with sea salt and gingerbread spices? Gah, so darned good!

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The key to making super clumpy granola is simply to resist the urge to stir it. That’s it, just leave it be, especially once it comes out of the oven. When the granola has cooled completely, you can gently break it up into large pieces.

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I tell you, this stuff is addictively good. When I was taking pictures, I couldn’t stop sneaking little edge pieces – you know, the ones that weren’t photo-worthy 😉

Jonty told me mid-week that we needed to get rid of the granola ASAP because he couldn’t stop eating it! Seriously good.

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This gingerbread granola kept my breakfast routine interesting for the week. My favourite was with a dollop of Greek yogurt and some fruit (the oranges are fantastic at this time of year!).

So if you like gingerbread spices and clumpy granola and food that will keep your body fueled, give this recipe a try. It should keep in an airtight container for a few weeks, if you can make it last that long. 😉

Easy Gingerbread Granola
 
Author: 
Recipe type: Breakfast
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
This easy clumpy Gingerbread Granola is a healthy way to start your day, or munch on as a quick snack.
Ingredients
  • 315 g (3 cups) large flake oats
  • 100 g (1 cup) walnut pieces
  • 60 g (1/2 cup) cashew pieces
  • 75 g (1/2 cup) raw pumpkin seeds
  • 2 tbsp flax seeds
  • 1 pkg German Gingerbread Spice (see notes)
  • ½ tsp sea salt
  • 55 g (1/4 cup) coconut oil
  • 100 g (1/3 cup) maple syrup
  • 40 g (2 tbsp) molasses
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
Instructions
  1. Pre-heat the oven to 325 F and line a large baking tray with parchment paper.
  2. In a large bowl, mix together the dry ingredients (oats, nuts, seeds, Gingerbread spices and sea salt).
  3. In a small saucepan or microwave-safe bowl, heat together the coconut oil, maple syrup, molasses and vanilla extract.
  4. Pour the coconut oil mixture over the oat mixture and stir to thoroughly combine.
  5. Spread the granola mixture on the parchment-lined tray and bake in the oven for 30 minutes, rotating the pan every 10 minutes.
  6. Remove from the oven and allow to cool completely on the pan before breaking up into large pieces.
Notes
If you don't want to use the German Gingerbread Spice mix, make your own by combining the following dried spices: 1 tbsp ground ginger, 2 tsp cinnamon, 1 tsp ground coriander, ¼ tsp allspice, ¼ tsp ground nutmeg and ¼ tsp ground cloves.

Enjoy this Clumpy Gingerbread Granola!

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Chewy Peanut Protein Pick-Me-Up Bars

I was having a clean-out-the-pantry moment a few weeks ago. We have a glorified closet that I like to call our pantry. It’s quite deep, and sometimes things get lost back there, not often, but it happens. In this purging moment, I found some brown rice crisp cereal, a bag of unopened flax seeds, and a jar of peanut butter. How the peanut butter escaped us, is beyond me! But out of these few ingredients, came these protein bars. Jonty and I have coined them as Chewy Peanut Protein Pick-Me-Up bars. And they are true to their name!

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Truth be told, the real reason I was “cleaning” was because I wanted to make some post-climbing and mid-training snacks, and I really didn’t want to have to leave the house for ingredients. Thank goodness for long-lost jars of nut-butter! We’ve been entering local bouldering competitions over the last few weeks and it’s great to have bite-sized snacks to munch on when we feel the need for a little boost of energy. I don’t like buying protein bars because (1) they’re often super expensive, and (2) I can usually make something equally tasty!

These bars are perfect for our needs. They don’t require baking (just a stove-top, for bringing a few ingredients to the boil) and they keep really well in the freezer. We absolutely love the flavour of them, and they pack a great energy-boosting punch!

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The perks of these Chewy Peanut Protein Pick-Me-Up bars:

  • Boost of energy: Oats make up the bulk of these bars, providing lots of fibre and slow-burning carbs for when your energy is running low.
  • Lots of seeds: Chia, pumpkin, sunflower and flax seeds pack in a great boost of protein, fibre and a whole host of vitamins and minerals.
  • No refined sugar: Only pure maple syrup and dried cranberries in these bad boys.
  • No baking required: Total bonus, when the oven is being used for other important things.
  • Easy, portable snacks: Cut them into bars or roll them into balls.

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I’ve made these several times this season, and they don’t disappoint! They’re great to keep in the freezer, for those times when you need a quick afternoon snack, or fuel for a great climbing session.

Chewy Peanut Protein Pick-Me-Up Bars
 
Author: 
Recipe type: Snacks
These bars are based on the general protein bar format from the Power Hungry cookbook.,
Ingredients
  • 180 g (1½ cups) large-flake oats
  • 40 g (1 cup) crispy brown rice cereal (likethis)
  • 55 g (2/3 cup, lightly packed) unflavoured protein powder
  • 40 g (1/4 cup) chia seeds
  • 40 g (1/4 cup) pumpkin seeds
  • 40 g (1/4 cup) sunflower seeds
  • 40 g (1/4 cup) flax seeds
  • 15 g (1/4 cup) unsweetened large-flake coconut
  • 70 g (1/2 cup) dried, unsweetened cranberries
  • 155 g (1/2 cup) pure maple syrup
  • 120 g (1/2 cup) smooth, unsalted, natural peanut butter
  • 3 tbsp milk (dairy or non-dairy)
  • 1 tsp pure vanilla extract
Instructions
  1. In a large bowl, mix together the oats, cereal, protein powder, chia seeds, pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds, flax seeds and dried cranberries.
  2. In a small sauce pan over medium heat, whisk together the maple syrup, peanut butter and milk. Whisk occasionally until the mixture just starts to boil. Remove from the heat and stir in the vanilla.
  3. Pour the peanut mixture over the oats mixture and mix very well until everything is completely combined.
  4. Transfer the mixture into a parchment-lined 9x9-inch square pan and use the back of a spatula to spread out the mixture and flatten until it is smooth on top.
  5. Refrigerate for at least 2 hours, until firm and set. Cut into squares.
Notes
These bars freeze very well and do not require any thawing before eating.

The bars are quite sticky at room temperature, so it is best to keep them in the fridge or freezer. If they will be at room temperature for a long period of time, individually wrap them in parchment or waxed paper.

Enjoy the Chewy Peanut Protein Pick-Me-Up Bars!

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Pomegranate and Coconut Overnight Oats

I know I’m late to this party, but until a month ago, I had never tried overnight oats. Oh, I heard people raving about them – how quick they are to prep the night before, how easy it is to switch up the flavours. But I was firmly planted in my green-smoothie-breakfast. That was, until the motor died on our Blendtec, and we were without its pulverizing force while waiting for a replacement to come in the mail. FYI, when this company says it offers an unlimited 7-year warranty, they really mean it!

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I need something in my tummy in the mornings, and we had a bag of Rogers Steel-cut Porridge Oats in our pantry that have been staring me down for quite some time. Finally, I decided to bite the bullet and try this overnight-oat thing – and you know what? I’m officially on board!

This recipe is nourishing, full of fibre, and loaded with heart-healthy and antioxidant-promoting ingredients. It’s really a powerhouse of a breakfast and can easily be modified, depending on what’s in your cupboards. I’ve been eating this often during the week and it totally hits the spot. It should go without saying, but if you’re gluten-free, make sure you choose a certified gluten-free oat blend. If you’re vegan, use a non-dairy milk. Otherwise, the sky’s the limit 🙂

In case you haven’t heard me lamenting over the very wet, very grey autumn we’ve had on the west coast, I’ll say it again: this autumn feels gloomier than most. It’s a good thing that one day of blue sky (which we had the on Monday this week), can generally elevate my spirit for a few days 🙂

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Another way I get through these dreary months is by filling our fridge with tonnes of citrus fruit. How can a person feel glum, after biting into a ripe orange, or tasting the juicy crunch of a little pomegranate aril! I think that’s why this version of Pomegranate and Coconut overnight oats is hitting the spot for me at the moment. If I’m feeling decadent, I’ll throw in some chopped walnuts, for a bit of extra crunch, too. And, with a good cup of coffee, it’s perfect.

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So if your breakfast is needing a change-up, or you’ve never tried this type of oatmeal before, give this Pomegranate and Coconut Overnight Oats recipe a try. Hopefully it boosts your morning, like it does mine 🙂

Pomegranate and Coconut Overnight Oats
 
Author: 
Recipe type: Breakfast
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
No cooking required, and five minutes of preparation the night before, will make sure you have a very tasty and filling breakfast in the morning.
Ingredients
  • ½ cup large-flake oats (I used the Roger's Steel Cut Oat Porridge blend)
  • 1 tsp chia seeds
  • ½ tsp ground cinnamon
  • 2 tbsp pomegranate arils
  • 1 tbsp unsweetened large-flake coconut
  • 1 tbsp walnut pieces, broken up into small pieces (optional)
  • 1 tsp pure maple syrup
  • ½ cup milk (dairy or non-dairy)
Instructions
  1. In a 250 mL glass mason jar (with a lid), combine the oats, chia seeds, ground cinnamon, pomegranate arils, large-flake coconut and walnuts (if using). Put the lid on, and shake the jar to combine the ingredients.
  2. Pour in ½ cup of milk of your choice, and 1 tsp of maple syrup. Stir the contents to combine completely.
  3. Place the lid onto the jar and keep in the fridge for at least 4 hours, preferably overnight.
  4. In the morning, enjoy cold or at room temperature.
Notes
This recipe is enough for 1 person. Modify the quantities to feed more hungry tummies.
If you like your oatmeal dense, use 1 to 2 tbsp less milk., If you like your oats with a lot of extra liquid, either add more the night before, or top with additional milk when serving.

Enjoy!

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Carrot-Cranberry Snacking Cake

I know the words Healthy and Cake are often mutually exclusive. But in this case, I’m going out on a limb and stating, for the record, that I think this Carrot-Cranberry snacking cake is a wonderfully healthy cake. We’re not vegan or vegetarian (although this cake falls into both categories), and we don’t completely shun the sweet treats (although we’re pretty good at limiting those to the weekends). However, every now and then, it’s nice to bake something that we can nibble on during the week that is healthy yet feels like a treat.

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This cake has no refined sugar and relies mainly on the natural sweetness of the fruits and vegetables you put into it. I made this a few weeks ago, sliced it up, and tucked it away in the freezer to nibble on when cravings strike. It’s lasted beautifully and, dare I say, the flavour even improved as it sat!

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With every bite, I’m sure I sound like a broken record, repeatedly telling Jonty that I still can’t believe there is nothing “unhealthy” in this cake! I first saw this in the My New Roots cookbook. If you don’t have it, I would urge you to give it a browse. There are so many great recipes in there, all plant-based, but easy to modify if you want to include other meat additions.

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In the cookbook, this was intended as a loaf. Aside from turning it into a snacking-cake recipe, I also decreased the amount of maple syrup and added toasted coconut. Both were well-received 🙂

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We love a nice tart treat, thus this snacking cake was an instant hit: the balance of the sweet and tart being just right, when you think the fresh cranberries are going to be too sour, you get a hit of sweetness from the roasted carrot and maple syrup. Being chock-full of vitamins A and C and numerous health-promoting antioxidants, doesn’t hurt, either!

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I tell you, this is most definitely something you can eat for breakfast and not feel guilty about! Let us know how it turns out for you 🙂

Carrot-Cranberry Snacking Cake
 
Author: 
Recipe type: Snacks, Breakfast
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Based on the Carrot-Cranberry Loaf from My New Roots
Ingredients
  • 14 g (1 tbsp) chia seeds
  • 80 g (1/2 cup + 2 tbsp) milk (dairy or non-dairy)
  • 55 g (1/4 cup) melted coconut oil
  • 120 g (1/4 cup + 2 tbsp) pure maple syrup
  • 2 tsp grated orange zest
  • 1 tsp pure vanilla extract
  • 180 g (1½ cups) sprouted spelt flour
  • 50 g (1/2 cups) large-flake oats
  • 1 tbsp ground cinnamon
  • 1 tsp ground, dried ginger
  • ½ tsp ground cloves
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • ¼ tsp sea salt
  • 140 g (1½ cups, or 2 medium) grated carrots
  • 80 g (3/4 cup) fresh or frozen cranberries (not dried)
  • 15 g (1/4 cup) large flake coconut, toasted
Instructions
  1. Pre-heat the oven to 360 F and grease an 8 x 8 inch pan, or line with parchment paper.
  2. In a small bowl, stir together the chia seeds and milk and leave to sit for 15 minutes or so, until the mixtures starts to gel.
  3. In a large bowl, combine the dry ingredients (flour, oats, cinnamon, ginger, cloves, baking powder and sea salt). Add in the grated carrot and stir to combine.
  4. In a medium bowl, whisk together the melted coconut oil, maple syrup, orange zest and vanilla. Pour in the chia seed and milk mixture and whisk to combine.
  5. Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients and stir until just combined. Add in the fresh cranberries and toasted coconut flakes and mix.
  6. Spoon the batter into the prepared 8 x 8 inch pan.
  7. Bake at 360 F for 35 to 40 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the middle, comes out clean.
  8. Let the cake cool in the par 10 minutes, then remove and cool completely on a wire rack.
Notes
I baked this cake at 360 F, because our oven runs cool. If you bake at 350 F, you might have to increase the bake time slightly.

This cake freezes extremely well. Allow to cool completely, then cut into slices, wrap well and store in the freezer in a sealed ziplock bag.

Enjoy!

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Easy, No-Knead Ciabatta Buns

I believe everyone should have one bread recipe in their back pocket that is fool-proof. And by fool-proof, I mean it would require deliberate sabotage to go wrong! Some types of bread rely on practice and experience, so you know what the dough should feel like, and how to make it work in your climate (I still have my share of misfit loaves). This Ciabatta recipe is not that type of bread and I’m quite confident that anyone can make this bread. You need a bowl and a spoon and you’re good to go. Seriously.

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I’ve made Ciabatta buns the fancy-pants way. As in, there’s some folding and resting and shaping and creating a steam-oven and, in general, a bit of time and effort.

And then I’ve made these Ciabatta buns the easy way i.e. with a bowl and a spoon and that’s about it.

And you know what? Neither Jonty nor I can tell the difference! The fancy-pants buns taste the same as the unbelievably-low-maintenance buns!

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Back in June, we stopped at Belgarde Kitchen after a day of climbing, to celebrate Jonty’s birthday. We went in for a late lunch, and I had the most fantastic breakfast sandwich, with this portobello patty on a soft ciabatta bun. That day, I vowed to recreate that burger. Actually, it’s not the first time I’ve tried to recreate one of the Belgarde items! (And it’s one recipe we keep in constant rotation!)

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It was around two months after that birthday visit, before I even thought about giving this recipe a whirl. Since then, I’ve made the buns 3 or 4 times. It’s a smaller-batch recipe, which is always nice for a household of two, but even better is that these buns freeze really well.

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Have you ever heard of Jim Lahey’s No-Knead Bread? You basically stir together some water, flour, yeast and salt and leave it sit on the counter overnight. The original concept recipe forms a really wet dough, which is why you can just stir it together. In this recipe, I’ve sort of combined a few different recipes and ideas (from Lahey’s and my Peter Reinhart cookbook and this Alexandra Cooks post) and come up with a Ciabatta bun recipe that really seems to work and taste good, with very little effort!

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A few things to keep in mind:

  • This dough needs to sit on the counter overnight, for 12 to 18 hours, so give it a good stir before you go to bed.
  • The dough will still be quite sticky the next morning. Do not fear, just make sure you use extra flour judiciously. Aim for at least 1/4 cup sprinkled on the counter and on the dough, while you’re cutting and shaping the buns.
  • To shape the dough, I find it easiest to cut it into 8 or 10 equal pieces and gently roll each piece completely in flour. Pat the dough into a rectangular shape, then fold the dough over on itself and place it, seam-side down, on a baking sheet. Because the dough is still quite soft and wobbly, you can’t shape it like my slider buns. Just fold and nudge, and they will be fine.
  • Use a parchment-lined baking tray, and don’t worry about creating a steam-bath in the oven. Maybe because of the extra liquid in the dough, the outsides will crisp up nicely, while still keeping a soft, chewy centre.

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That’s it! These buns bake at 425 F oven for about 20 minutes, and then you have wonderfully soft, yet chewy, Ciabatta buns to eat on their own, or made into your favourite sandwich.

Give them a try! Hopefully you will enjoy them as much as we do 🙂

Easy, No-Knead Ciabatta Buns
 
Author: 
Recipe type: Snacks
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
This easy, no-knead bread uses a modification of Artisan Breads Everyday and Alexandra Cooksrecipes.
Ingredients
  • 515 g (4 cups) bread flour (all-purpose flour will work, too)
  • 10 g (1¼ tsp) sea salt
  • ¼ tsp instant yeast
  • 2 cups cold tap-water
  • ¼ cup flour (for shaping the dough into buns)
Instructions
  1. In a large bowl, stir everything together until you have a shaggy dough, about 2 minutes.
  2. Cover with a cotton kitchen towel and leave on the counter top, at room temperature, for 12 to 18 hours.
  3. When ready to bake the next day, pre-heat the oven to 425 F and line a baking tray with parchment paper.
  4. Spread ¼ cup of flour on the counter top and tip out the dough onto the flour. Coat the dough thoroughly with the flour. The dough will still be quite wet, so use as much flour as necessary to avoid any sticking.
  5. Using a sharp knife, cut the dough into 8 to 10 pieces and roll each piece in flour.
  6. Gently shape each piece into a square or rectangular shape by folding the dough over onto itself. Place each piece on the parchment-lined tray. Leave a bit of space around each bun.
  7. Let the dough rise for about 20 minutes.
  8. Bake for 15 minutes, then rotate the pan and bake for another 5 to 7 minutes, or until the buns are golden brown.
  9. Allow to cool completely before slicing.
Notes
These buns freeze very well. Just place into a freezer ziplock bag.

Enjoy!

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