Date and banana flapjacks with #noaddedsugar


I have got into the habit of making flapjacks on a Sunday night for the week – though they don’t always last that long. I have taken to storing them in the car so I am not tempted – there is evidence that unsurprisingly shows that if you can see food you eat it!

This is the first time I’ve made them with no honey, just relying on natural sugars from dates and bananas. There is a lot in the media and books to buy, and recipes online for no sugar foods. Which is great. We are still waiting to hear following on from the draft guidance on sugar intakes published by the Government’s SACN. In the meantime World Health Organization has published their latest recommendations to reduce intakes to 10% with an ideal target of 5% or less.

It’s worth remembering that honey, maple syrup, dried fruit and smoothies still contain sugar but because the sugar is in it’s natural form it also provides nutrients. So recipes that contain these natural forms of sugar are not “sugar free” but have no “refined sugar” or “processed sugar” or, I suppose “added sugar”. Refined sugar is has no vitamins or minerals, so really only provides empty calories. The sugar in honey, maple syrup etc, is in its natural form, so it has a lower GI (a slower release of sugars into the blood) and also contains some minerals. Maple syrup is high in manganese, and contains good amounts of zinc and potassium. Honey contains very low levels of iron, copper and manganese.

These flapjacks are perfect for picnics and after main meals. Not recommended for between meals as the sticky sugars can get stuck on teeth. Regularly eating dried fruit, juices or smoothies between meals increases risk of dental decay. See my previous post, Sweet Tooth for more information.

This recipe is vegan if you use coconut oil, if you use butter best to use organic. Organic Standards legally set mean that organic cattle have to be pasture fed for the most of the year.

Flapjacks are really easy and quick to make, your children can help with the mashing and mixing (my 2 year old happily helps out – it gets messy and keeps her busy).

You will need…

  • 180g Oats
  • 2 medium bananas (about 190-200g)
  • 60g desiccated coconut (optional)
  • 160g chopped dates (if you don’t have enough dates substitute chopped raisins)
  • 100g melted coconut oil (or butter)

How to…

  • Mash the bananas on a plate.
  • Put the bananas in a bowl
  • Add the coconut oil and dates and mix well.
  • Now add the oats and desiccated coconut and again mix.
  • Turn into a lined baking tay
  • Bake in an oven at 170 °C or 150 °C in a fan oven or gas mark 3 for 25 minutes.
  • Cut into slices whilst still warm.

If you have older children do not mention these flapjacks have no refined sugar in them as they will immediately hate them. My 8 year old had these happily last night because I said nothing!


Blackberry and apple spread

It feels like I’ve made so much with the blackberries  this year that I am loosing a bit of my blackberry inspiration. Though there are still some good ones to be found in the hedgerows, these will probably end up in the freezer so I can make a crumble or two in the Winter months.

Coming down to the smell of freshly baked bread from the bread maker in the morning combined with making blackberry apple jam has proved irresistible over the Summer holidays.

To make it a healthier option I wanted to develop a blackberry spread that had no added processed sugar. Some would call it no sugar – but that’s not strictly true. Maple syrup has been used to sweeten the spread and it works well. Maple syrup contains about 2.5g of sugar per 5 grams and has a lower GI than sugar too. I’ve just road tested this recipe at our Thursday playgroup where we make bread and it was popular with grown ups and little ones. Including apples in the recipe means that there’s some natural fruit pectin which helps with the setting and consistency.


This recipe makes enough for a small jam jar of fruit spread. You’ll need to keep it in the fridge and it will last for up to 2 weeks. You can freeze it too.

Sterilise the jam jar by putting it in boiling water for 5 minutes or washing well and then putting in an oven at 140 degrees centigrade on a baking tray until fully dry.

You will need …

300g blackberries
100ml maple syrup
1 tablespoon of lemon juice
2 apples (Bramley, Cox or Pipin)

How to…

Wash all the fruit well, checking the blackberries for signs of life.
Core the apples and grate them skin as well (as it contains pectin) quickly, so they don’t brown, and stir in the lemon juice, to prevent browning.
Put everything in a heavy bottomed saucepan.
Bring to the boil.
Take off the heat for a few moments while you mash the fruit (this is really mainly for the blackberries) with a potato masher.
Then simmer on a low heat for 30-45 minutes.
Pour into sterilised jar.
Place a circle of waxed paper over the top of the spread to seal it (it should cover it exactly).
And tightly close the lid.


Sugar free banana macaroon recipe

When I was looking for a sugar free cake/biscuit ideas for my baby, I found this Banana macaroon recipe from the Healthful Pursuit’s blog. Leanne who writes the blog posts lots of allergen free recipes from egg to dairy, gluten and sugar free.

Leanne has even written a post on how to open a coconut.

Banana macaroons

The recipe uses shredded coconut, which I haven’t been able to get hold of locally, so bought a coconut and shredded it in the food processor.

I converted quarter cup of coconut butter (or creamed coconut) to 54g and 2.5 cups of shredded coconut to 230g.

Both daughters loved them.

Obviously it’s a bit of a labour of love – shredded the coconut, but at 89p shredding your own coconut cheaper than buying shredded coconut online and you can freeze some of the macaroons for lunchboxes and snacks out and about.