Eating a varied diet is one of the most important pieces of nutritional advice I can give to anybody. However, those with special diets have an added complication, and variety is often overlooked.
Being restricted in what you can eat can leave you in an unimaginative and unhealthy rut. If you suffer from coeliac disease or avoid a food for ethical reasons, it’s easy to build up a list of safe foods and never try anything new. Unfamiliar foods can fill people on special diets with fear – all those ingredients on the back of pack that you can’t pronounce tend to put you off. So what’s the solution? Make them yourself!
As someone who isn’t coeliac or vegan, the one thing I really struggle with is healthy snacking. There are so many snacks out there that are full of empty calories (food that give us lots of energy but little or no vitamins and minerals), and you can easily consume more calories, fat and sugar by eating a snack than a main meal. So, I decided to combine the two – healthy snacks suitable for those with special diets.
Here is my favourite super-healthy, raw, no-bake, gluten-free snack bar recipe that you can take in lots of different directions – try mixing it up with whatever dried fruit, nuts or seeds you have at hand. You can chuck them together in a big batch and they’ll last you the whole week. They are super easy, super delicious, and they contain a good combination of carbohydrates and protein that will keep you full until your next meal – so go nuts! (Sorry.)
No-bake vegan sticky chocolate fudge bars
I got the idea of this from my friend who makes the most incredible chocolate brownies, and have used a combination of cocoa powder and raw cacao. Cacao is raw chocolate, and is believed to contain more nutrients than cocoa powder because it hasn’t been heated to such high temperatures. Cacao is a great source of magnesium, which helps our muscles to function properly, reduces tiredness and fatigue, and helps us build muscle. Who said chocolate couldn’t be healthy?
Makes 12 bars
- 170g dates
- 75g cashew nuts
- 65g cup pecans
- 3 tbsp maple syrup
- 2 tbsp cocoa nibs
- 1 tbsp coconut oil
- 3 heaped tbsp cocoa powder
- 3 tbsp maple syrup
- 2 tbsp chia seeds
- 50g dates
- 40g pecans or cashew nuts
Soak chia seeds in a bowl with 8 tbsp of water and leave aside. Place all the base layer ingredients in a food processor and blend until combined and sticking together. Press the mixture into the bottom of an inch-deep tray.
Next, place all the topping ingredients in the processor with the chia seeds and most of the water then blend until smooth. Stop to taste the mix, and if you like it a bit sweeter add a little more maple syrup.
Scoop the topping out and smear on top of the base layer, then put the tray in the freezer for at least an hour. Once it’s set it’s ready to cut into portions. You can store it in the fridge and it will last a week, or in freezer if you’ve done a big batch.
Nutrition information: Per serving; 209kcal, 12.7g fat(3.5g saturated), 4.2g protein, 17.6g carbs, 15.6g sugar