Tuesday 23 January 2018

Healthy eating: Susan Jane White makes a deliciously chewy muesli bar, full of nutrients

Yacon hits the sweet spot, says Susan Jane White, and it makes a deliciously chewy muesli bar, full of nutrients

Yacon is the super-sweet spud known as the apple of the earth because of its inherent sweetness. A tuber vegetable, it makes a wonderfully sticky syrup. Yacon nectar is definitely the nearest thing to golden syrup for the health-conscious, smoothie-swilling folk. Despite the unfortunate onomatopoeic ring to its name, yacon is, in fact, outlandishly tasty while magically low in calories and glycemic load. Hurrah! This is because of yacon's naturally high content of inulin, a complex sugar that breaks down very slowly in the body.

Its trump card, however, is that much of its inulin content will convert to fructooligosaccharides -- that's doctor's speak for prebiotics. Fructooligosaccharides make for happy bowels by feeding the good bacteria in our digestive tracts. Prebiotics are necessary for probiotics to multiply. In other words, for better colon health.

Yacon can be a little tricky to source. I recommend visiting www.navitas.com or dropping into Down To Earth on Georges Street next time you're in Dublin. It is also sold in freeze-dried pieces and powdered form; sprinkle it liberally on top of yogurt or porridge as a saintly little sweetener.

Yacon Muesli Bars

Commercial muesli bars may seem healthy, but they are often no better than biscuits. Always read the list of ingredients, much of which is marketing jargon for sugar.

Here's a muesli bar that will rival a multivitamin pill. Nuts carry protein and vitamin E to help repair damaged skin, particularly from too much gargle or sun rays. In addition, almonds offer a non-dairy source of calcium, while pecans provide zinc for immunity, great skin and optimal hormone production. Not bad for a modest muesli bar.

Oat flakes help move waste through the gut and grab excess cholesterol along the way. So make sure dad scoffs a fair portion of these, too. Oats also help to drip-feed our battery throughout the day by releasing its energy slowly and consistently. Similar to yacon, raw agave and cinnamon. Think of them as the blood-sugar police, especially if you're diabetic.

You will need:

1 cup ground almonds

2 cups oat flakes

½ cup pecans, chopped

Handful of sunflower seeds

¾ cup dried yacon pieces, roughly chopped or torn

1 teaspoon cinnamon

1 teaspoon dried ginger

¾ cup extra virgin coconut oil or butter

¾ cup raw agave or yacon syrup

Preheat the oven to 160/170°C, 330°F, Gas 5, in conventional ovens. In a bowl, combine the ground almonds, the oat flakes, the chopped pecans, the sunflower seeds, the dried yacon pieces, the cinnamon and the dried ginger, and mix well. In a saucepan, gently melt the extra virgin coconut oil or the butter, whichever you're using, with the raw agave or the yacon syrup, whichever you're using, for three minutes and then whisk together.

Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients in the bowl. Make sure that every last bit of the mixture is glistening. Pour the contents into a greased tin, one that's about the size of a magazine page. Press firmly down with fingers. Licking of utensils and bowl definitely encouraged; lightens the washing up.

Bake for approximately 30 minutes, until lightly browned. Any longer, and the oats can turn dark and bitter. Remove from the oven and allow to rest for 5-10 minutes before gently scoring the museli bars. This does not mean pillaging the tray. Using a sharp knife, make indents along the length and breadth of the tin, which will make cutting the bars much easier once they have cooled.

Chill in fridge until the muesli bars become solid and chewy. Wrap the bars in baking parchment, and make sure they're stored in the fridge. A terrific hiding place.



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