With these hot summer months ahead, I am wanting some lighter options to snack on that are also nutritious. Plus it is always useful to have something to freeze that you can pull out when you need to, especially when you have unexpected visitors coming over during the Christmas period! Why does Christmas have to mean gluttony and sugar? These delicious Healthy Apricot and Walnut Bars make a refreshing change for the hot months ahead ...
So what makes walnuts such a superfood?
5 Facts about Walnuts you Didn't Know
- Walnuts contain the highest amount of alpha-linolenic acid (ALA), the plant-based omega-3 essential fatty acid, required by our body. Eating only 25g each day provides about 90% of RDI (recommended daily intake) of omega-3 fatty acids.
- Rich in antioxidants including compounds which have potential health effects against cancer, aging, inflammation, and neurological diseases.
- They contain very little carbohydrate which is great if you are looking at cutting back on carbs.
- Contain a whole host of minerals like manganese, copper, potassium, calcium, iron, magnesium, zinc, and selenium. So you get more bang for your buck!
- Walnuts have always been considered important for their medicinal properties, including curing bad breath, reducing inflammation, and healing wounds.
Healthy Apricot and Walnut Bars (Gluten Free and Dairy Free)
Here's what you'll need...
1 cup brown rice flour
1 cup almond flour/meal, packed
1 cup quinoa flakes
2 tsps baking powder
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp xanthan gum
3/4 tsp sea salt
1/2 tsp ground ginger
3 eggs or egg replacer
1/2 cup real maple syrup
1/4 cup organic coconut oil
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 tsp almond extract
2-3 tablespoons almond milk, as needed (you can use regular milk if you prefer)
1/2 cup dried apricots, roughly diced ( I would recommend also adding in some dried cherries too)
1/3 cup walnuts, roughly chopped
And here's how to make it...
- Preheat the oven to 180 degrees Celsius. Line a 30x24 cm (nine inch) baketray tin with baking paper.
- In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the following dry ingredients - brown rice flour, almond flour, quinoa flakes, baking powder, xanthan gum, cinnamon, sea salt, and ginger.
- Add in the eggs, maple syrup, coconut oil, vanilla and almond extracts and beat to combine. The batter should be thickish, clumpy and sticky. Add in the almond milk one tablespoon at a time, until the batter becomes smoother but not too wet.
- Add in the dried apricots and walnuts. Stir to combine.
- Spread the batter into the prepared baking tin and smooth the surface evenly.
- Place the pan into the center of a pre-heated oven and bake until golden and set - about 40 minutes until the top and the center are firm. Insert a knife to check if you are unsure to make certain the center has baked thoroughly.
- Cool on a wire rack. Cut into squares and store in an air-tight container. They can also be frozen. Great to keep on hand for on-the-go breakfast treats and snacks and as a healthy treat for kids.
Cook time: 40 minutes
Yield: Approx 15 bars
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Date of Review: 14 October 2013
This Mexican restaurant chain is popping up all over Brisbane. With its bright yellow and black signage and decor, Guzman y Gomez really stands out from the other dining spots. It's an order at the counter affair and then you wait at the end of the long assembly line for your number to be called out. Once this happens, your food is delivered in a convenient takeaway container. You can't help but feel that the service is a bit impersonal. It feels like you are one of the cogs in the wheel of a manufacturing assembly line.
Luckily most of the items on the menu are gluten free. All except the burritos, which are made with a wheat tortilla. You can have tacos (corn-based), quesadillas (corn-based) or a burrito bowl (minus the tortilla and with rice instead). My favourite are the hard shell tacos, although if you want a more filling meal, go for the burrito bowl. It's annoying having to ask for guacomole as an extra (when I think it should be included as a staple of any Mexican dish), but it does taste better with it.
The meals themselves are pretty delicious and extremely filling. At $10.50 this is on the upperside of expensive for a takeaway lunch, which looks like a rush job and must be fairly easy to assemble. However, the taste will keep you coming back for more!
TOTAL SCORE: 15/20 or 75%
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Contrary to popular belief, gluten free doesn't necessarily mean healthy.
As I skim through the ingredients list on the back of gluten free food products, I am often astounded at how common 'sugar' appears as the first ingredient. When first diagnosed with coeliac disease, I found out about the importance of label reading and the standard practice that the first ingredient printed on the list is also the main ingredient in the product. While the marketing on the product will usually emphasise the healthy ingredients, how often does it truly reflect what the product is made from?
Coeliac Disease and GI
Those living gluten free have to be careful not to get too enticed by the marketing. And, they need to make sure they are not consuming highly refined, high GI food (which in my opinion, could be just as bad for you as the highly processed food you have been trained to avoid!) This is especially important for those with coeliac disease, as about 10 per cent also develop type 1 diabetes and need to manage their blood glucose levels.
Why? Your blood glucose rises and falls when you eat a meal containing carbs. How high it rises and for how long depends on the quality of the carbs (the GI) and the quantity. Foods that contain carbs that break down quickly during digestion have the highest GI values, as the starch in them is fully gelatinised, meaning digestive juices can easily attack, leading to high blood glucose levels. On the other hand, food that has carbs wgich break down slowly, releasing glucose gradually into the blood stream, have a low GI value as the starch in these foods is only partially gelatinised and therefore more resistant to attacks from digestive juices.
High vs low GI foods
You might be interested to learn that some naturally sweet foods actually have a low (below 55) or medium (between 55 and 70) GI rating. This includes most fruits and their unsweetened juices (with the exceptions being dates, lychees and watermelon which have a high GI rating of over 70).
However, the bread and cereals group is where most of your decisions about GI need to be made. While your choices here might already feel restricted, you can substitute some more common high GI gluten free cereals and breads with the following alternatives:
- gluten free bread marked 'low GI'- try Country Life low GI gluten free white bread
- gluten free cereals with rice bran or psyllium rather than puffed or flaked corn and rice
- quinoa porridge instead of rice porridge
- raw nut and seed mixes instead of corn or rice crackers
- longer grain rice like basmati instead of jasmine rice
- mung bean or soba noodles or vermicelli instead of gluten free pasta