Two-minute fruit snack bar

This afternoon, I wanted a cookie or something sweet to go with my cup of hibiscus tea, but the cupboard was bare!

And my hubby had already made my tea so it had to be fast!  What could I do?

I decided on some 2-minute bars. It took 2 minutes to whizz some fruits and nuts in the food processor. Then I quickly cooled them. You can use the fridge, but as I was in a hurry, I popped them in the freezer, so it only added 5 minutes. They were done and ready while my tea was still brewing! Perfect timing :=D


They are one of those flexible recipes that you can swap and change.  Here is what I planned to use and then I'll tell you how I swapped it up with what was in the cupboard:

In a food processor, combine:

1 1/2 cups ground almonds
1 cup dried (unsulfured) apricots
1 cup dried coconut
2 tablespoons lemon juice

until they come together.  If it is too dry (depends on how dry your dried fruit is) add a little more lemon juice. The "dough" should start to go in one clump around the food processor, but it takes a couple of minutes.

Press the dough into a parchment lined square baking tin or roll into small balls.  Chill to firm up either in the fridge or if you are in a hurry like me, just a few minutes in the freezer!  Cut into 12 bars or eat as fruit balls.


My adjustments:  I didn't quite have enough almonds so I used just over a cup of almond flour and made up the rest with Chestnut flour. I didn't quite have enough apricots either, so about 1/4 cup was prunes. The coconut I had was the wide sliced, flaked, not finely shredded.  The lemon juice was actually lemon juice!!!  Next time, I'm going to try hemp seeds instead of the coconut.

Its good to use unsulfured dried apricots, as although they aren't quite as pretty as they are brown instead of orange, sulfites can cause adverse reactions in 1out of 100 people.  This can be particularly serious in people with asthma. In a recipe like this, you don't even miss the orange color, so purchase organic dried apricots and they won't have any sulphites in them.


A quick sweet bite that is very satisfying and you don't need too much.
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Keeping hydrated


I've never been one to drink much water.  Didn't used to drink anything else either, no sodas, no tea, one mug of coffee in the morning..that's about it.

I'd try now and again to always carry water with me, but it only ever lasted a few weeks or so.

But now, I seem to have cracked it! My new habit has lasted a few months so I think I'm on to a winner.


It started after I saw this short video from nutrition facts.org



The video looks at a study of the anti-oxidant levels of 283 different beverages.  Imagine there even being 283 different drinks!  Anyhow the drink with the highest anti-oxidant level, by quite a margin, is hibiscus tea.  A tea made from the hibiscus flower.


So now, every morning, I make a large container (60 fl oz) of hibiscus tea using 4 tea bags, a lemon and hot or cold water. No sweetener.

I leave it in the kitchen and it is a pretty reminder for me to drink it up throughout the day.  Sometimes I forget to make it in the morning, but then I remember later on and catch up!  I don't take the tea bags out, just leave them in all day.  Now it's winter, I tend to start it with hot water and then by the evening, am drinking it room temperature.  I know most Americans prefer cold drink with and ice - but remember, I'm a Brit! Room temperature is good!!!

So now I get at least 60 fl oz every day of water plus a wonderful dose of anti-oxidants.


One of the key parts of why it works for me is that it is attractive! The lovely color of the hibiscus catches my eye. It's pretty.  When I ran out of hibiscus and tried it with white pomegranate tea, I just didn't feel like drinking it.  These are the two brands I tend to use.


So if you struggle with drinking enough fluids throughout the day, try using a large container that will hold a days worth - about 60 fl oz, and fill it with something that is attractive to you and healthy.  You can swap out one of the hibiscus tea bags and add a ginger or chamomile one instead or......

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The language of flowers - Part I

It was book club at my house this morning.  I had selected the book "The language of flowers" by Vanessa Diffenbaugh.  I loved the book - and so did the rest of the group.


The book is about Victoria who spent her childhood in the foster-care system, moving from one place to another, never spending more than a year in any one home.  At the age of 18 she has to leave the system, even though she has no where to go.  But she gradually finds that she has a gift for helping others through the flowers she chooses for them.  She learned the Victorian language of flowers from Elizabeth, one of her foster parents - and finds it to be a way she can communicate to others.  It follows her difficult life of learning to love when she has never been loved, going back and forth between her childhood and present day, as so many books seem to do nowadays!  It's a lovely and at times difficult read.


For my group, I decided to use the flower theme for our gathering today.  I served hibiscus tea and hibiscus sparkling water. The meaning of hibiscus is "delicate beauty" - and it's also really high in antioxidants.

I then made two desserts.  The first one was little flower pots for each person, as you see in the photos.



In tiny terra-cotta pots I made "soil" cake from quinoa, walnuts etc from a recipe I found on Golubka's blog, for ant-hill cake. I'd never heard of ant hill cake but this version is gluten free, refined sugar free and dairy free.  To be honest, it was a little too solid for my liking, a bit stodgy, but the taste was OK. Then I put a sprig of mint in the pot (thanks to my neighbor Janet who supplied the mint!) and topped it with a little pink, yellow or white edible daisy.

They looked very cute!  Oh, and the Victorian meaning for daisy is "innocence".


I'll show you the other delight tomorrow!  But in the meantime, I recommend the book. 
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Best beverage

We've heard for a long time about the high antioxidant and health benefits of green tea, but a study published in 2010 in "Nutrition Journal", has found another drink that has even greater antioxidant levels.

The study was very extensive, comparing the antioxidant levels of more than 3100 foods, beverages, herbs and spices. Can you even think of 3100 different foods?  I'll be sharing some of the other results in future blog posts.



But the beverage that came out tops of 283 beverages was Hibiscus tea.  Some examples of the antioxidant content for popular drinks are:

  • coke/pepsi 1
  • white wine 5
  • black tea 23
  • green tea 36
  • red wine 38
  • coffee 47
  • matcha tea 100 (matcha is powdered green tea)
  • hibiscus tea 132


An example of a readily available hibiscus tea in a tea bag is Red Zinger.  Alternatively, you can purchase dried hibiscus flowers from Mexican food stores and steep your own tea. Hibiscus teas don't contain caffeine and, as well as their antioxidant powers, they are also seen to lower high blood pressure.


Michael Greger, M.D. suggests preparing a day's worth of hibiscus tea as follows:
8 glasses of water, 4 bags of hibiscus tea, juice of one lemon, sweetener if desired (eg erythritol or blended dates).  Mix together and put in the fridge overnight. Remove the tea bags in the morning and drink throughout the day.

I fancy adding some ginger to the above too....Do you have other ideas?  I'm going to give it a try.

By the way, I met Dr. Michael Greger this weekend at a great nutrition conference I attended in Santa Rosa.  What an entertaining man and so informative. I highly recommend his website where he posts a new video every day - http://nutritionfacts.org.


BUT, before you throw all that green tea away, while hibiscus tea may have a higher level of antioxidants, green tea also has many other health benefits, especially anti-cancer properties from EGCG - a compound in the tea.  I'll tell you more about that tomorrow.
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