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Spiced apple sugar-free flapjacks

My most popular recipe on the blog is my sugar-free flapjacks. Obviously lots of people want a healthier version of this popular treat.

I make my sugar-free version fairly regularly and even serve them up to unsuspecting adult guests, even though I initially invented them for littlies.

I’ve also experimented with other flavour combinations but usually forget to write them down. This variation is one I like a lot and can be made more spiced if serving it to big people. More importantly, I’ve managed to write it down!

spiced apple sugar-free flapjacks

Once again it’s sugar-free, using a little honey and mashed banana instead for sweetness. This time though, extra sweetness comes from soft dried apple and raisins rather than the original recipe’s dates. There’s also the addition of orange zest.

If you’re making this for toddlers, I would first try making the flapjacks with the smaller amounts of spice (1/2 tsp of cinnamon and 1/4 tsp of cloves) while adults will like more warming spice (1 tsp of cinnamon and 1/2 tsp of cloves).

There are lots of ingredients to mix so this is a great recipe to get your children involved.


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

100g butter
3 tbsp honey
200g porridge oats
100g soft dried apple, chopped into pieces no bigger than 1cm
30g desiccated coconut
50g raisins
30g golden linseeds (or flaxseeds), plus extra for sprinkling on the top
1/2 – 1 tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 – 1/2 tsp ground cloves
zest of an orange, grated (or 1/2 tsp orange extract)
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, chopped dried apple, coconut, raisins, golden linseeds, cinnamon, cloves and orange zest together.

Add the mashed bananas to the melted butter and honey, stir to combine 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.

spiced apple sugar-free flapjacks


  • Make dairy-free flapjacks by replacing the butter with a dairy-free margarine

Tip: if you have fussy little ones, to avoid them pulling out pieces of dried fruit, chop the apple (maybe also the raisins) into very small pieces for a smoother and more homogeneous mix.

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The original sugar-free flapjacks (oat bars)

The original sugar-free flapjacks (oat bars)

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 🙂


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.


  • 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

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spiced apple sugar-free flapjacks

Spiced apple sugar-free flapjacks

Sweet potato jack-o-lantern pancakes

Their faces are quite mean, but Nicholas loves growling at them!

These jack-o-lantern pancakes are full of sweet potato goodness with chocolate drop features, however you could use raisins to make the faces and then they’d be completely sugar-free. Head over to Mindful Mum to see how you can make them.

World Porridge Day

World Porridge Day was actually yesterday and while we ate porridge, I didn’t get around to posting about it. However, as cupcakes and chocolate get a whole week in the UK, I figured the humble and nutritious porridge’s day needs to be extended, especially thinking about the reason behind it.

World Porridge Day was started to raise awareness of and money for Mary’s Meals, a Scottish charity feeding starving children in Africa. Mary’s Meals provides daily servings of likuni phala, a nutritious, vitamin-enriched maize porridge to more than half a million children in 16 of the poorest countries in the world. But they don’t just give them nourishment. The porridge is served in schools, encouraging children to go and learn. Each child also has the responsibility of looking after their plastic mug which is filled with porridge. By serving one simple meal, Mary’s Meals is doing a lot more than just filling bellies.

Mary’s Meals are also an amazingly efficient charity. How much do you think it costs to feed a child porridge for a whole year? How much do you think you spend on your family breakfasts over a year?

It costs just £6.15 (about €7.20 or $10) to feed a child for a year.
Less than £7 for a whole year!

I’ll let you absorb that fact while I move on to some porridge flavours and variations your munchkins (and you) might like. I’ll leave you to cook your porridge the way you prefer (I like the microwave to avoid having pots to clean) as I’m certainly not a porridge-cooking expert!


While traditionally porridge is made from oats, water and salt, I always use milk for its calcium content and some kind of sweetener, usually fruit or a little bit of honey (for when babies are more than a year old).


To make a smoother porridge, more palatable for babies, either grind up the oats before cooking, or blend your finished porridge until it’s smooth enough.

Another way of softening the oats is to soak them in some of the cooking liquid overnight.

Start with adding one simple flavour your baby is already used to, like banana. Once you think your munchkin is ready for some more complex flavours, add some warm spice like cinnamon or a dash of vanilla for extra sweetness or start combining flavours.

Flavour combinations:
The easiest and healthiest flavour to add to porridge for little ones is fruit, and then there’s no reason to add any sugar. Add it fresh or frozen. Mixing through frozen fruit has the advantage of cooling the porridge down (very important when your toddler is being impatient!). Here are some of our favourites.

  • Banana and cinnamon
    Mash some banana through cooked porridge and add a dash of cinnamon (which helps stimulate your metabolism)
  • Apple, raisin and nutmeg
    You can use raw apple (finely grated) or cooked apple (apple puree or unsweetened applesauce/stewed apple). Add raisins (soak them overnight if you want them to be plumper and less chewy) and a small pinch of nutmeg. You could also add some chopped dried apple.
  • Strawberry and vanilla
    Mix chopped strawberries (fresh or frozen) through cooked porridge and add a dash of vanilla.
  • Stewed fruit
    Any cooked fruit works great swirled through cooked porridge (peaches, plums, apricots, strawberries). I don’t add sugar while stewing the fruit, but check the taste of the porridge adding some vanilla for sweetness or honey. A small pinch of ground ginger also works well.
  • Pears and vanilla
    A lovely ripe uncooked pear mashes very easily into cooked porridge. Add a dash of vanilla.

Porridge in a hurry:

For mornings when you need to get ready fast, what takes even less time than mashing some fruit into cooked yogurt?

  • Fruit yogurt
    Stirring through some fruit yogurt also cools the porridge down (saves you blowing time!).
  • Fruit puree
    Any packaged fruit purees or purees you’ve made yourself mix through quickly.

Adult flavour combinations (or not so healthy additions):
Some mornings you just need a little indulgence to start the day happily.

  • Grated chocolate
    Any chocolate you have on hand grated over cooked porridge.
  • Chocolate spread
    Add some mashed banana as well to feel healthier.
  • Golden syrup and cream
    Maple syrup works just as well.
  • Jam and cream
    Who needs scones.
  • Chocolate-covered Katie’s Coffee Frappuccino Oatmeal
    Haven’t tried it, but it’s your morning coffee and breakfast all-in-one!

Once you’ve added your flavourings, why not also sprinkle or dollop something on top?

  • Seeds
    Pumpkin, sesame, flax/linseed, sunflower seeds, etc. For toddlers, grind up larger seeds and/or soak them overnight.
  • Coconut
    Shredded or desiccated.
  • Yogurt
    Fruit or plain.
  • Dried fruit
    Sultanas, raisins, cherries, apples, pineapple, mango, etc. Chop larger pieces up. Soak overnight for softer fruit.
  • Fresh fruit
    Slices of banana, strawberries, pear or whole blueberries are yummy.


You can use other liquids to soak and/or cook your oats.

  • Juice
    Fresh apple and orange juice add another level of flavour to your porridge.
  • Coconut milk
    Feel like you’re in the tropics!

If you’re sick of the same old flavours, why not add something daring to your oats?

What do you like to add to your or your munchkin’s porridge? What do you do if you have porridge leftovers?

I hope I’ve given you some ideas to vary your bowls of porridge. But also remember how porridge is changing the lives of children in Africa thanks to Mary’s Meals, and how little you would need to donate to feed a child for a whole year.

Blueberry pancakes (sugar-free)

Hubby and I are following the Dukan diet to lose the spare tyres that have appeared over the years helped by us loving food and really not liking exercise. So far it’s working well and hasn’t been too hard to follow (you have foods you can eat, and you can eat as much as you like of them, and foods you can’t eat). You also have to eat oatbran and it’s easier to eat this in the morning (it also keeps your tummy full until lunchtime). I make Dukan’s galettes which always smell divine because of the cinnamon and vanilla I put in, but they taste very similar to cardboard!

Nicholas sees us eating our galettes and, of course, wants some too. For the moment he doesn’t realise that his galettes are usually banana pikelets or apple pikelets. My stocks in the freezer of these were running low so I thought I’d try a new flavour – blueberry.

I’m calling these pancakes, probably mini pancakes are a better description, because I left the blueberries whole and therefore made them thicker to surround the berries. Whether you call them pancakes, mini pancakes, pikelets, drop scones or dropped scones, make them, they’re yummy!


Prep time: 5-10 mins
Cook time: 10-15 mins
Makes about 10 mini pancakes

1 1/2 cups self-raising flour
1/4 tsp bicarbonate of soda
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
100g blueberries
1 tbsp honey
1 egg, beaten
1 cup milk
Small piece of butter, melted, to grease the pan

Sift the flour, bicarbonate of soda and cinnamon into a medium- sized bowl.

Add the honey and egg then gradually pour in the milk mixing until you have a fairly thick batter (you might not need to use all the milk).

Gently mix in the blueberries.

Heat a large frying pan over a medium heat and brush with melted butter. Use a tablespoon to drop spoonfuls of mixture into the pan. Cook in batches, turning when bubbles appear on the surface (1-2 mins). Cook the other side until golden brown (about 1 min). Lift out and cover with a clean tea towel to keep warm.


  • Use nutmeg or ginger instead of cinnamon
  • Add vanilla essence for more sweetness

Tip: Wipe your pan clean with a piece of paper towel after each batch and then brush with some more melted butter.

Wholemeal wheat thins

One of the food blogs I religiously read is Smitten Kitchen. I love Deb’s laid-back approach to family cooking and the wonderful creations that come out of her small New York kitchen. I particularly love her homemade versions of snacks you might secretly buy at the supermarket checkout.

Her whole wheat goldfish crackers have been on my list of recipes to try for a while, but when her homemade wheat thins popped into my inbox I was running to the kitchen immediately!

With a food processor you can make these mini crackers super fast (if you don’t have one, follow Deb’s instructions to mix the dough by hand). Most of your preparation time will be rolling and cutting. If you’re a bit short of time, only roll out half of the mixture and keep the rest of the dough in the fridge to make the next day (or even freeze the remaining dough). You don’t need to make the dotted pattern on each cracker, but it does look cute!

I adapted Deb’s recipe slightly. I replaced the sugar with honey. I know, I have this thing against sugar when making things for Nicholas. Actually there’s very little sugar in the original recipe, but I still prefer substituting something a bit more natural and less refined. Honey’s also sweeter so you can use less, and after using it for a while now, I actually prefer its richer more mellow flavour to the harsher stronger taste of refined sugar. Anyway, enough of my honey rant!

As Deb says, you can use white flour and the result will be a lighter texture. I also can’t wait to try these again adding some onion or garlic powder, or some dried herbs. You could also make them cheesy.

I cut my thins smaller, mainly for Nicholas’ tiny hands but also so I wouldn’t feel guilty if a couple of them just happened to find their way into my mouth 😉


Prep time: 15-20 mins
Cook time: 10 mins
Makes about 130
Keep in an airtight container for a week
Freezable (both the cooked thins and the uncooked dough)

1 1/4 cups (155 grams) wholemeal plain flour
1  tbsp honey
1/2 tsp salt
Additional salt for topping (optional)
1/4 tsp paprika
4 tbsp (55 grams) unsalted butter, cut into small cubes
1/4 cup (60ml) cold water

Heat the oven to 200C and line an oven tray with baking paper.

Put the flour, honey, 1/2 tsp salt, paprika and butter into a food processor. Blend the mixture until it’s combined and the butter is evenly disbursed.

With the motor running, slowly pour in the cold water and blend until the mixture comes together into a  ball.

Take the dough out of the processor and divide it in half. Roll out one half of the dough as thin as you can (rolling the dough out over a piece of cling film makes sure it doesn’t stick to your bench and be generous with the flour on your rolling pin). The thinner you can roll it, the crisper your thins will be.

Cut rectangles about 2.5cm by 2cm using a knife, a pastry wheel or even a pizza cutter. Place them close together on your prepared tray and use a skewer or toothpick to poke some dots into each one (I poked three dots from top to bottom on both sides and two dots in the middle). Sprinkle with extra salt, if using.

Bake for 7 – 10 mins until golden brown and crisp (keep a close eye on them as they cook quickly).


  • add onion or garlic powder to the mixture
  • add some dried herbs (thyme, sage, rosemary, etc.) to the mixture
  • add some grated cheddar or parmesan to the mixture
  • use white plain flour for a lighter texture

Tip: if your thins start getting soft, pop them back into the oven to crisp up for a couple of minutes.

Spinach muffins

Yes, you read correctly, spinach muffins. And they’re sweet. I’ll let you have a minute to get your head around that.

Still can’t imagine what they’d taste like? Don’t worry, neither could I when I came across the recipe by Weelicious. I’m still on my mission to get more vegetables into Nicholas, so I thought I’d continue my attack from a sweet angle too.

I’ve made two batches of these now, modifying the original recipe both times. Honestly, they’re a strange taste sensation and I certainly won’t be waking up any time soon thinking ‘Mmmm, I fancy a spinach muffin.’ But I made them for Nicholas not me.

Reading the numerous comments for the original recipe, many people who’ve made them say you can’t taste the spinach and that they taste like plain vanilla muffins. For me the spinach taste is strong, and its metallic flavour in combination with the vanilla is probably what confuses my taste buds. But I made them for Nicholas not me.

The original recipe has applesauce and sugar. I replaced the sugar with honey to be healthier (I honestly can’t see the point in packing a muffin with spinach goodness if you then add sugar, sorry). I also left out the salt, as just reading that in the ingredient list made my taste buds apprehensive, and again why add it to your munchkin’s food if you probably don’t need to (after tasting them I think adding the salt would make the clash between sweet and savoury too much).

For my second batch I also left out the baking soda (bicarbonate of soda) as I really don’t like the taste of it in muffins. It didn’t affect the texture and the taste was better. Yes, for me, but I made them for Nicholas not me!

Nicholas has eaten them but without gusto, however he hasn’t been completely well this week. We’re going to the joint first birthday party of Nicholas’ best friend at the weekend. It’s a party with all the babies from his antenatal group, so I will go armed with my spinach muffins and see how they go down with a pack of one-year-olds.


Prep time: 5 mins
Cook time: 15 mins
Makes 12 small muffins

1 cup fresh spinach, packed tightly
1/2 cup unsweetened applesauce (apple puree)
1 egg
2 tsp vanilla extract
2 tbsp honey
2 tbsp vegetable oil
1 1/2 cups plain flour
1 tsp baking powder
Extra vegetable oil, for greasing muffin tin

Preheat oven to 175C and grease your muffin tin with a little vegetable oil.

Put the spinach, applesauce, egg, vanilla, honey and vegetable oil in a food processor, and puree until the spinach has broken up into small pieces and the mixture has combined.

Sift the flour and baking powder into a medium-sized bowl.

Pour the spinach mixture into a large bowl and carefully fold in the flour mixture, mixing just enough to combine the ingredients (mixing too much will make your muffins heavy).

Divide your mixture evenly between the 12 muffin holes.

Bake for 12-15 mins until a skewer comes out clean.