09.12.2019
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23.11.2019

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12
6.5lt

Chocolate banana cake-bars made with oats and sweetened with dates, cooked in the slow cooker. One of my favourite snacks lately, I can only describe these as something between cake and oat bars. Dense but fairly soft, tasty and super filling. Ideal for the mid-morning munchies.

Plant-Based, Date-Sweetened Chocolate Banana Oat Cake-Bars, in the Slow Cooker www.thefoodiecorner.gr Photo description: A close view of Chocolate Banana Oat Cake-Bars cut up and arranged (in the shape of the slow cooker) on a piece of grease-proof paper.

Ok so here’s the deal. This is going to be a longish post, because I’ve decided to share some thoughts that have been taking up quite a bit of space in my brain over the past few months. What’s it all about? The issue of food/diet related stress, eating disorders, and how food bloggers fit into the whole situation. Yeah, it’s a biggie so if you want to skip over it and just get to the recipe I won’t mind!

I’ll start at the beginning. A while ago I heard a podcast episode on Eat Capture Share called “Intuitive Eating On Instagram + Are Food Bloggers To Blame For Orthorexia, With Christy Harrison” (click to listen) It was quite a shock to me as I had never even heard of orthorexia, never mind its links to social media use. I won’t get into what it is, you can read more here and here but what I heard put my mind in turmoil. I started thinking that I really shouldn’t be talking about what is “healthy” or telling people what they should be putting on their plates and in their bodies. Even if they aren’t struggling with an eating disorder, what about the stress that all these “good for you” recipes are causing?

I decided I would never again mention the nutritious qualities of ingredients I used in my recipes. After all, I am even qualified? Who am I to decide this here cake is healthy or healthier than the next? I’ll never forget doing some research for a blog post and getting myself into a huge muddle over whether to call the recipe healthy because the cheese in it might block absorption of the iron from the lentils. It was a salad. I was driving myself a little crazy, and maybe overreacting a bit.

After giving myself some time to mull it all over I came to some conclusions. First of all the issue of orthorexia and other such disorders is very complicated (with deep rooted causes that go beyond what we’re discussing), and as far as the internet goes, I believe the blogs/accounts/sites that may play a larger role in exacerbating the problem are the ones that have hardcore views and preach against/demonise whole food groups (like sugar, flour etc) while lacking the professional qualifications to do so. I hope the people behind these channels take care in how they present their ideas and views.

(Just a quick side-note here that there are numerous websites and social media accounts with solid scientific-based information. These are the ones we should be using to learn more. It’s good to research, educate ourselves and be inspired to try new things, and to adapt this knowledge to our own lives, without obsessing.)

Personally, I try to have a balanced approach to food, with one non health-related exception that I will talk about soon. My blog is a reflection of my views, which are summed up in this phrase: Everything in moderation. If I fancy a take-out I will have one, if I fancy a big bag of crisps while watching my favourite series I will have one. But I also make sure to regularly consume veggies, fruit, legumes etc etc. We shouldn’t stress too much about what we eat; I truly believe this stress is worse than actually eating what we want (within reason of course).

So what now? I will share my recipes, all of which are things I eat myself. I’ll talk about some nutritious qualities of the ingredients if there is reason to, but mostly I will focus on whether the food tastes good and whether it’s easy for everyone to make. More or less what I’m already doing, but with less emphasis on health aspects. In the past I may have talked about that a bit too much, and I have also said a word I now hate… “guilt”. As in a “guilt-free” dessert for example. I’ve gone off this term big time, as it implies other desserts are guilt-full. No, let’s get over all this.

Plant-Based, Date-Sweetened Chocolate Banana Oat Cake-Bars, in the Slow Cooker www.thefoodiecorner.gr Photo description: A very close view of Chocolate Banana Oat Cake-Bars cut up and arranged side by side. One piece has been turned on its side to reveal the inside of the cake-bar.

Well, it was good to get that off my chest. Are you curious about the recipe that brought all these thoughts gushing out? It’s a chocolate banana bread thingy that is best described as something between cake and bars (oat bars, breakfast bars, cereal bars.. you know the ones). And to be fair they didn’t bring the thoughts out, they were just next in line when I decided to finally put all this down in writing. And they are testing my resolve since I could easily slip into talking about their nutritious qualities. But no. Make them because they taste good, they are filling and they are easy to throw together. Oats, banana, dates, chocolate, cinnamon… Delish. Oh you can serve them with a lick of peanut butter too!

For these quantities you’ll need a 6.5lt slow cooker, so if you have a smaller one (say a 3.5lt) I suggest you decrease the ingredients (you should be ok with ¾ of the quantities listed). And don’t forget that your bananas should be black as can be. The darker the sweeter!

Plant-Based, Date-Sweetened Chocolate Banana Oat Cake-Bars, in the Slow Cooker www.thefoodiecorner.gr Photo description: Chocolate Banana Oat Cake-Bars cut up and arranged (in the shape of the slow cooker) on a piece of grease-proof paper on a wire rack. To the top left of the photo is a bowl of dates, chocolate and banana chips, further down is a small bowl of peanut butter and a knife laying on the wooden surface. The knife is smeared with peanut butter. To the bottom left is a bunched up linen napkin. Some peanut butter has also been spread on one of the cake-bars.

Any thoughts on all the rambling above? I’d love to “hear” them in the comments! And of course if you do make the cake-bars please share a pic and tag me – that always makes my day! (@thefoodiecorner & #thefoodiecorner)

Ingredients

2 Tbs flax meal (or flax seeds popped through a food processor)

6 Tbs water

250 gr (1 ¾ cup) quick oats, processed into a flour – it won’t be as fine as powder but try and get it as fine as possible

25 gr (1/4 cup) cocoa powder (not hot chocolate powder)

1 tsp cinnamon

1 tsp baking powder

½ tsp baking soda

½ tsp salt

400-450 gr (1 ¾ cup) mashed banana (weigh after peeling) – about 3 ½ to 4 large bananas

150 gr (1 cup) dates, pitted and finely chopped (measure before chopping)

120 ml (1/2 cup) oat milk or other plant-based milk

1 tsp apple vinegar

80 gr dark chocolate, plant-based, roughly chopped

Step 1

Line the bottom of the slow cooker with some baking paper.

Step 2

Mix the flax meal and water in a little bowl and set aside for at least 15 minutes so it thickens slightly.

Step 3

In a large bowl combine the oats, cocoa, cinnamon, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Mix with a whisk to get rid of any lumps.

Step 4

In a separate bowl whisk the mashed banana with the dates, then add the oat milk, vinegar and flax mix, whisking between additions.

Step 5

Fold the wet ingredients into the dry until mostly combined, add the chocolate and continue folding until you can’t see any oat flour.

Step 6

Transfer the mixture to the slow cooker insert and smooth out the surface. Lay a piece of kitchen paper on top of the insert and secure with the lid (the paper should be sitting under the lid, not on the mixture – it’s fine if there is a gap on either side). Cook on high for 2-2 ½ hours or until the surface is set and a toothpick comes out dry when inserted in the middle of the cake. Remove the paper and lid and let cool in the slow cooker.

Step 7

Remove the cake and cut into pieces/bars. Store them at room temperature for up to a couple of days, or for longer in the fridge. You can also freeze them and defrost however many you want by zapping in the microwave for a few seconds.

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4 Comments

  • Reply
    Lisa
    25/11/2019

    I hear you. I try not to mention health or opinions on foods when I post. I’m more than aware that what is healthy for me, is not for other people.
    I don’t care about calories, or fat levels, or sugars. I cook, eat and post what tastes good. I will cater to food choices, but won’t entertain health gurus or fad diets.
    There are many well meaning ‘health’ food bloggers out there, but I’ll stick with the ones who speak sense.

    • Reply
      25/11/2019

      Exactly!! I totally agree. I’m not saying bloggers shouldn’t post healthy recipes, it’s just that it’s good to keep things real and not go to extremes.

  • Reply
    25/11/2019

    Eleni thank you so much for listening to the podcast and giving the ideas shared there so much thought. Appreciated.

    Please keep sharing your incredible recipes, the world needs them 🙂 and I love that you’re staying clear of terms such as ‘guilt-free’ etc. I think we’re all still learning how to manoeuvre this situation and so glad we’re learning together.
    Big hug
    K

    • Reply
      25/11/2019

      It was one of my most favourite episodes ever! And yes you’ve described it so well, we’re all learning constantly. Thanks for creating such valuable content Kimberly!