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Sugar-free Anzac biscuits

Tomorrow (25th of April) is ANZAC Day. The word ‘ANZAC’ (an acronym for the Australian and New Zealand Army Corps) was coined during WW1 to refer to the Aussie and Kiwi troops in Egypt. More than 10,000 of them lost their lives during the campaign to capture Gallipoli in Turkey, which saw them landing on the penisula on the 25th of April 1915. Now ANZAC Day not only remembers these WW1 soldiers but all the Australian and New Zealand men and women who have served and died in wars.

Anzac biscuits came about supposedly when the soldiers’ loved ones wanted to send them something nutritious from home. They had to send something that could withstand a couple of months travel without refrigeration and use ingredients that were readily available during the war. The traditional Anzac biscuit of rolled oats, sugar, plain flour, coconut, butter, golden syrup or treacle, bi-carbonate of soda and boiling water was born.

sugar-free Anzac biscuits

If you would like to make the traditional Anzac biscuit there are many recipes online, including this one on the ANZAC Day Commemoration Committee website and also here (with a choice of crisp or chewy biscuits).

I experimented to make a sugar-free, more toddler-friendly version. Instead of the sugar and golden syrup (or treacle in some recipes), I used honey and applesauce (unsweetened pureed apple). The texture with these two substitutions produces a biscuit with a soft chewy centre, but you can make them less chewy by flattening out the biscuits as much as possible before cooking them.

They went down very well with Nicholas (he’s had them as snacks and also for breakfast, and they survive dunking in milk very well). Hubby, who usually doesn’t like my sugar-free experiments, has happily eaten them without complaint, while I’ve also scoffed a few feeling a lot less guilty than if they were packed with sugar.

This would be a great recipe to try making with your munchkins, but because of the honey it’s advised not to give these biscuits to little ones under 12 months old. It’s also a recipe that’s easy to halve if you don’t want to make so many biscuits.

SUGAR-FREE ANZAC BISCUITS

Prep time: 10 mins
Cook time: 15-20 mins
Makes about 30 biscuits

1 cup rolled oats
1 cup plain flour
3/4 cup desiccated coconut
125g butter
1/2 cup honey
1/4 cup applesauce / apple puree
1/2 tsp bicarbonate of soda
1 tbsp boiling water

Preheat the oven to 160C and line two oven trays with baking paper.

Gently melt the butter with the honey either in the microwave or in a small saucepan. Let cool.

Combine the rolled oats, plain flour and coconut.

Mix the bicarbonate of soda with the boiling water and add it to the cooled butter mixture.

Stir the butter and bicarbonate of soda mixture into the dry ingredients, add the applesauce or puree and mix until combined.

Place teaspoonfuls of the mixture (it’s normal that it’s quite runny) onto your prepared trays and flattened the mixture out (the thicker the biscuit the softer and more chewier the centre will be). Unlike traditional Anzac biscuits, these won’t spread any more during cooking.

Bake for 15-20 minutes until golden brown. Remove carefully from the trays (they’ll still be quite soft) to cool on a wire rack.

Other uses:

  • Use the biscuits as the base for individual unbaked cheesecakes: place a whole biscuit in the bottom of a muffin tin (lined with a paper case to get it out more easily), top with your preferred cheesecake mix and refrigerate.
  • Use broken up biscuits as a crumble topping for cooked fruit.

I’m linking this recipe to the AlphaBakes monthly challenge (this month it’s the letter ‘A’) jointly hosted by Ros from The More than Occasional Baker and Caroline from Caroline Makes.
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Sugar-free flapjacks (oat bars)

I’ve been looking at flapjack recipes for a while, trying to find a variation that isn’t full of sugar or dripping with butter. They’re a lovely filling snack and you can easily add nutritious ingredients such as seeds or dried fruit, but also adding heaps of sugar cancels out the goodness for me.

I couldn’t find a recipe I liked, so I thought I’d experiment with one of my favourite natural sugar substitutes – ripe bananas. Those horrid looking brown, maybe even black, bananas that often lurk in our fruit bowls are super sweet. I actually have quite a few in my freezer as I always seem to have them at the end of the week and don’t always have the time to use them in something. So instead, I peel them, break them in half, shove them into ziploc bags and throw them in the freezer.

The sweetness in my flapjacks comes not only from ripe bananas, but also from some honey and dates. If you want to experiment with different flavoured sugar-free flapjacks, make sure you include some sweet dried fruit. Flapjacks are great as they can be very simple or full of different flavours and textures. You can experiment with different seeds or different nuts, and you can also add some spice like cinnamon or ground ginger. For me, next time I make these I’ll leave out the walnuts, as the seeds were enough for me with the fruit and coconut.

Flapjacks are a filling snack, especially if they’re soft inside like these are. Hubby, who’s not familiar with flapjacks and their dense texture, suggested having them as a dessert with custard to lighten the taste. And why not?!

Nicholas had a great time helping me make these. He seemed to be excited by how many little bowls of ingredients there were to be mixed into the oats. He’s getting better at stirring (not a lot went on the floor) and is also understanding the importance of tasting as you go πŸ™‚

SUGAR-FREE FLAPJACKS (OAT BARS)

Prep time: 10 mins
Cook time: 15-20 mins
Makes 16 squares

200g porridge oats
100g dried stoned dates, chopped
30g desiccated coconut
50g walnuts, chopped
30g pumpkin seeds, plus extra for sprinkling on the top
30g sunflower seeds, plus extra for sprinkling on the top
100g butter
3 tbsp honey
1 tsp vanilla essence
2 ripe bananas, mashed

Preheat oven to 175C and grease a 20cm square baking tin.

Gently melt the butter and honey either in a saucepan or in the microwave. Leave to cool.

In a large bowl, mix the oats, dates, coconut, walnuts, pumpkin and sunflower seeds together.

Add the vanilla and mashed bananas to the melted butter and honey, and then pour into the dry ingredients. Mix thoroughly.

Press the mixture firmly into your tin and sprinkle over the extra seeds.

Bake for 15-20 mins until golden on top and it’s coming away from the sides of the tin.

Take out of the oven and, while it’s still warm, use a knife to score where you will cut. Leave in the tin to cool before cutting.

Variations:

  • For simpler flapjacks, leave out the seeds, coconut and walnuts
  • Add some warming spice like cinnamon or ground ginger
  • Substitute the dates with another sweet dried fruit such as apricots or cherries
  • Make dairy-free flapjacks by replacing the butter with a dairy-free margarine

You might also like

spiced apple sugar-free flapjacks

Spiced apple sugar-free flapjacks

Baby oat cakes

My regular readers will know by now that I always need inspiration for breakfast. So when I came across Laura’s microwave raspberry oat cakes, I woke up the next morning with a spring in my step, eager to try them.

I’m a big fan of porridge for little ones as there are so many variations you can do, and this is a brilliant different way to use porridge oats. It’s also super quick and open to variations.

These mini oat cakes would be perfect for baby-led weaning, ideal finger food for a toddler snack, and I even made another for my afternoon tea!

Laura makes hers with frozen raspberries. I first tried frozen strawberries and then some raisins I’d soaked in warm water (if giving to a baby, it’s important to first soak any dry fruit to avoid any possible choking hazard). Try to use a banana that’s as ripe as possible as it will be sweeter (actually this is another great recipe for using up overripe bananas).

They were a great success with Nicholas who called them biscuits and dunked them in milk. He said ‘yum’ in English and Italian as well as signing it, interspersed with requests for ‘more!’. I couldn’t have been happier πŸ™‚

Check out more of Laura’s budget-friendly family recipes on her blog Small Wallet Big Appetite.

BABY OAT CAKES

Prep time: 3 mins
Cook time: 4 mins
Makes 1 oat cake

1/2 medium banana
1/4 cup (20g) raw porridge oats
A pinch of cinnamon
4-5 pieces of chopped frozen strawberry

Mash the banana in a small microwave-safe bowl (I used one that was about 10cm across at the bottom).

Add the cinnamon and oats, mixing well so all the oats are covered in banana.

Gently mix through the frozen pieces of strawberry.

Press the mixture down firmly into the bottom of the bowl and cook in the microwave on high for 3-4 minutes until it turns into a firm little cake.

Tip the mini cake out. Once cooled, cut it into wedges.

Variations:

  • use other frozen berries instead of strawberries
  • use dried fruit (raisins, chopped apricots, etc) instead of strawberry, but soak them beforehand if giving to a baby

Chewy oaty biscuits

So Nicholas’ first go at cooking went really well. He particularly enjoyed spooning the ingredients into the various bowls. I had laid out a number of different sized spoons and he tried all of them, preferring the smaller ones (it makes sense when his chubby hands are so small).

I found Michelle’s advice over at What’s Cooking With Kids really useful. She suggests using a large bowl with a non-skid bottom, putting the mixing bowl inside a larger bowl to avoid spills, and setting up everything ahead of time so your little one doesn’t get bored waiting for you to prepare. One of her readers also recommends using a funnel which I think would work really well. Nicholas definitely enjoyed using a jug, especially while we were waiting for the biscuits to cook.

It’s important to choose something that’s easy to cook. A recipe that involves mainly pouring ingredients into a bowl and mixing them is perfect. Biscuits or slices that have melted butter are great; you can melt the butter beforehand and let it cool so little hands are safe when mixing. Also try to make something that doesn’t take very long to cook so you can both sample your munchkin’s efforts as soon as possible.

These chewy oaty biscuits are a simple recipe you can find all over the place with the same basic ingredients. They’re simple, perfect for kids to make and easy to vary. I used this recipe from NetMums and added some raisins, but the possible variations are almost limitless.

The texture is similar to flapjacks (firm on the outside with a chewy centre), in fact you could press the mixture into a square tin and then cut into pieces rather than rolling it into biscuits.

We didn’t get any where near the 24 biscuits the original recipe says and our biscuits were small. Even with some mixture going on the floor and into a little mouth, it was closer to 18 small biscuits

CHEWY OATY BISCUITS

Prep time: 10 mins
Cook time: 10-15 mins
Makes about 18 small biscuits or 12 medium-sized biscuits
They keep well for several days in an airtight container

75g butter
1 tbsp golden syrup
75g plain flour
1/2 tsp bicarbonate of soda
75g demerara sugar
75g porridge oats
25g raisins

Preheat the oven to 170C. Grease or line an oven tray with baking paper.

Gently melt the butter and golden syrup either in the microwave or in a small saucepan. Leave to cool.

Sift the flour and bicarbonate of soda into a mixing bowl.

Add the sugar, oats and raisins and stir together.

Pour in the cooled melted butter and golden syrup and mix until combined.

Roll the mixture into small balls and place well apart on the prepared tray. Press down with the back of an oiled spoon to make flatter biscuits or leave for more rounded biscuits.

Bake for 10-15 minutes until golden brown.

Variations:

  • Use a dairy-free margarine instead of the butter to make dairy-free biscuits
  • Use honey instead of golden syrup
  • Add other dried fruit such as chopped dried apricot, dried apple or dried strawberries
  • Add chocolate chips
  • Drizzle with melted chocolate or dip half of each biscuit into melted chocolate
  • Add some spice such as cinnamon or ground ginger
  • Add flaked almonds
  • Add desiccated coconut

Have you tried cooking with your kids? What advice would you give to make it as stress free as possible?