I call these bars, though they’re actually mini loaves. I find that people feel better about themselves, less like they’re “pigging out”, when something is more bar and less loaf, especially if they’re on a “guilt-free” trip. It’s National Eating Disorders Awareness Week, so I figure it’s apt to get to the gritty of how people approach and choose what to eat or not to eat. I may not be in the US but I still think it’s a pretty valid topic considering my ED background. I personally always strive to make healthy, awesomesauce decisions, but it’s not always so easy. That’s why a lot of I make is to try and be as “trigger-free” as possible – no mass amounts of sugar, crazy ingredients and guilt, because not all of us can overcome that voice in our heads or the growling in our stomach that both judges and seduces us. These bars? Guilt.Free. At least for me.
As always, don’t forget I’m hosting an awesome international giveaway of The Veggie Queen’s book, Nutrition CHAMPS!
I remember very clearly when I first started my path to having an ED. I was in my first year of primary school, having come back to South Africa after a stint abroad. I didn’t have very many friends, being rather awkward, so for at least two weeks I planned an intricate tea party for all my dolls and stuffed animals, who of course were constant companions. For all that time I saved up sweets – mostly Mars bars and the like, and abstained from munching and nibbling as I would normally do, and in what would be considered a normal way for most kids. I had to climb on a high chair to pack away and reach where my dad kept (and later hid) all the candy, despite my fear of heights (meaning serious business), and eventually I laid it all out and got down to the task of having fun.
Except, it was a rather boring party, being only me that was sentient (I wasn’t that crazy). I started getting that aching, anxious feeling in my gut that I usually got when I was around new people or when I wasn’t a part of the crowd, so I started munching on all the snacks (taking bites on behalf of the bears and the barbies), until I had unconsciously eaten everything, which I hadn’t actually intended on doing. The plan had been to have regular parties with these precious snacks, and just wrap them up for the next time. I was rather horrified and intrigued to discover, however, that being physically full magically covered up that feeling of emotional emptiness, and that, being on the point of nausea, I still felt better than I had feeling alone.EDs aren’t logical or something you can talk yourself out of – even now, 50 or so kgs less, I still have the instinctive mentality of an obese person, and it takes constant self-monitoring and self-assessment to make decisions and to live by them. These are two very different things – I made up my mind so many times to be healthy but didn’t follow through until much later. I’m still rather amazed that no doctor actually said to me “you may have an eating disorder – let’s work on that” rather than “you need to exercise”. I knew I wasn’t doing anything right, but until it clicks that one’s behaviour is a type of disease, it’s difficult to get on the road to healing for real.If my recipes don’t always stand out because they aren’t glazed or brimming with chocolate chips, you’ll have to forgive me for that. Some days I can handle it and still feel healthy or on the constant path of recovery, and other days the mere sight of chocolate sends me spiraling back to a mindset which leads to self-destruction and a “who cares” attitude.What I’m so grateful for is learning, slowly but surely, to say “I care”; to hold myself accountable and not feel like I’m depriving my mind or body or being a cruel tyrant to a part of me that plays victim. I’m neither one of those things; I’m just a person who loves her dark chocolate and also being able to walk up a flight of stairs without wheezing. It’s amazing to discover it’s not a choice between the two extremes but rather balancing all aspects of yourself and your emotions which may trigger certain behaviours.
With all that being said, here are some amazingly delicious and healthy snacks, treats, or mini meals on the go!
Sweet potato bars:
- 3 cups sliced sweet potatoes, peeled (will become approx 2 cups when steamed)
- 1 banana
- 1/4 cup almond butter
- 1/4 cup soy/non-dairy milk
- 2 TBSP custard powder (optional)
- 1 tsp vanilla essence
- 1 – 2 TBSP sugar of choice (I used powdered sweetener, feel free to use Stevia if you don’t mind the taste)
- splash cinnamon
- 1 tsp apple cider vinegar
Chia raspberry jam:
- 1 cup raspberries, fresh (or another soft berry of choice, such as blackberries)
- 1 TBSP chia seeds
- 1 tsp nutmeg
- 1 tsp cinnamon
- 1/2 tsp ginger powder
- 1/2 tsp cloves
- 1 TBSP lemon juice
- (Optional: sweetener to taste)
Sprinkles and splashes:
- Almond butter for drizzling
- Hemp seeds
- Dried cranberries/fruit of choice, cut into small bits if required
- Optional: melted chocolate for drizzling
- Steam your sweet potato in the microwave for approx 5 – 6 minutes or until super soft.
- Preheat your oven to 180C and spray a mini loaf tray. If you don’t have one you can also make this in a normal loaf pan or even a muffin pan.
- Whisk your soy milk and custard powder together and set aside.
- In a food processor (or if you have strong arms and no gadgets by furious mashing) blend your bar ingredients (including custard mylk) until smooth. Add more sweetener to taste if necessary.
- Spoon out the bars evenly and bake for 40 minutes until golden on top. They will spring back and feel rather squishy, but don’t stress – it will get sorted.
- As it’s baking, add your jam ingredients except the chia seeds to a non-stick pot and cook on medium for 5 minutes, mashing down the raspberries with a spoon. Add the chia seeds and stir, bringing the temperature to low and cooking for another few minutes to thicken. Set aside to cool and then in the fridge in a sealed container.
- Once your bars are done let them cool on the counter for 5 or so minutes before putting them on a cooling rack and then ideally in tupperware in the fridge for an hour.
- Either spread the jam on immediately and eat warm or, if you waited, then spread a heaped tsp of jam on top of each bar and sprinkle with seeds and dried fruit and drizzle with nut butter (or melted chocolate).
- Store in the fridge.
Firstly, let me say that making your own jam is the easiest and bestest thing ever – I love spice in mine and hate added sugar, so this is ideal if you have fruit that’s sitting around and needs using up. I’ve made balsamic fig jam and carob prune jam before as well, so this isn’t limited to berries alone.
Best part is that after finally getting to grips with hemp seeds the other day when I tried out Jill Nussinow’s Pinto Bean Quinoa Burgers, I can’t stop sprinkling them on everything! I’m so delighted that I’ve gotten over my hesitance because they really add some sparkle and jazz to the whole affair – crunch always helps keep me satisfied. Melt-in-your-mouth is all very well, but I could “melt” an entire chocolate cake in my mouth and still go for more; if I have to bite and chew I’m much more aware of being or becoming full!
Drizzled with precious almond butter and dotted with sweet dried cranberries? Ye gods! Man-thing bought me a jar of pricey almond butter recently to make up for the absolute horror of having scarfed down a precious vegan bar I’d gotten in my Vegan Cuts box, so this was a total treat.
What I love about sweet potatoes in baking (not to mention bananas and nut butters…pretty much all my ingredients) is that they are just magical once baked – moist, dense and delicious – all naturally so! The sweetener is seriously optional, because each ingredient is actually sweet (at least to my tastes!).
The longer you keep these babes in the fridge, the better – it might just be me but these things always “age” well – the flavours become more pronounced somehow. Don’t get me wrong though – straight out of the oven, slathered in cool jam? YUM!
If you have or are recovering from an ED, what are your coping mechanisms to make you more mindful?
If you enjoy this post and others like it on my blog, go ahead and subscribe to get recipes, reviews and giveaways straight into your inbox! 😀