Chewy Chocolate Chip Banana Cookies – Mark 2

Beware! This recipe is in danger of becoming a chain letter!

I saw the original recipe on boingghealth this morning and since I had all the ingredients, even the exact same brands, I knew we had to give them a try.

Besides, he threw down a gauntlet challenging us to come up with new variations on the theme and as everyone who knows the McGowans is aware, a gauntlet is always picked up! Besides, it was fate. Chocolate, banana and peanut butter. Love the combination, how could we not?

Since Kris had already used oats, I swapped for buckwheat flakes (also gluten-free) and bearing in mind his thoughts on not enough peanut butter, I doubled the amount.

Also, he used The Raw Chocolate Company Vanoffe Dark raw chocolate bar, but in the end I decided I couldn’t give mine up so we used their Pitch Dark instead.

So, Kris @boingghealth, I see your Mark – no, it should be Kris – 1 and I give you Mark Chris 2:


(all organic  vegan and gluten-free, you could swap the peanuts and peanut butter for almonds/almond butter and use whichever flavour of chocolate you prefer)

2 Medium Very Ripe Bananas (spotted skins)

1 Cup Buckwheat Flakes

3/4 Cup Ground Red Peanuts

2 Tbsps Palm Oil-free Peanut Butter (we use Meridian)

1/2 Tsp Vanilla Extract

Pinch of Pink Himalayan Salt

1 Mini Bar The Raw Chocolate Company Pitch Dark Chocolate, broken up, either reserve some for drizzling or open another bar and who’s to notice if half gets diverted to your mouth?

 3 Pulsin’ Kitchen Cacao Butter Buttons (easier to use than a solid block)


Oven 170C as we have a fan oven, Kris recommends 180C for normal oven.

Mash the bananas really well with a fork

Mix in all other ingredients except 4 squares (approx.) of chocolate and cacao butter dops – they are for melting and drizzling later.

Spoon onto baking tray covered in baking parchment, shape into cookies

Cook about 12 minutes until golden

Cool on a rack

 Melt chocolate and cacao butter buttons

Drizzle on cookies when cool.

Ours made 12.

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I reckon you could add dried fruit – raisins or chopped dried apricots – even coconut for other versions, but I’m going for beetroot next time, what do you think?

Pass it on, refer to the other versions and let’s see what you all come up with! 

Update: Just made some more of these and added 1/4  Cup Raisins & a sprinkling of cinnamon plus we used Vanoffe Dark this time. (It was a sacrifice,  but someone’s got to do it ;-))


Copyright: Chris McGowan

Quick, Plain & Simple, Savoury Vegan Snacks (Gluten-Free Too!)

When someone discovers I’m vegan, I can see their brain working overtime with all those questions people feel obliged to seek answers to when faced with this anomaly. Along with ‘Where Do You Get Your Protein?’ ‘Where Do You Get Your Calcium?’ best of all, ‘You Mean You Just Eat Fish??!’ and more recently What Do You Eat If You Can’t Have Anything Naughty? (includes links for dessert recipes), the next question is often plain, simple and to the point: ‘So What Do You Eat?’

It’s really not that complicated. I’ve posted several vegan dinner recipes in the Menu: curries, soups, salads, stir-fries, rice and quinoa salads for example. But I snack like everyone else, I just don’t eat cheese, or bacon sarnies, or anything processed to within an inch of its life!

For anyone wondering how aliens – I mean vegans! – keep going, I thought I would put together a post with a few of my favourite savoury, vegan and gluten-free snacks or light lunches: nothing too ‘weird’ like kale chips, or fancy or time-consuming if you already have the ingredients in the cupboard or fridge.

These are foods I often have for a late afternoon snack when I generally feel that energy dip and dinner is too far away to wait. Sometimes all I need is a juice, others I feel the need for something more solid. There are lots of recipes for healthy raw sweet treats in the Menu too, but the following suggestions are for when you want something savoury and quick and perhaps a little more substantial.

They all have protein and healthy fats to fill you up and provide energy.

imageFirst up is my favourite: Celery and Apple with peanut butter and a couple of Nairns gluten-free oatcakes, either plain or herb and seed, or with my version of Camilla’s Homemade CrispbreadI love the fruity savoury contrast of the flavours as well as the crisp crunchy texture. It satisfies on all levels. Any nut butter works, of course, and corn cakes or rice cakes are another option. Also, homemade gluten-free bread (click the link for my recipe, which includes two earlier versions as well). Apple and peanut butter or celery boats with nut butter are great snacks for children too, especially when they come home from school tired and hungry, providing more slow-releasing energy than a packet of crisps or sweets.

(There’s a recipe for Sweet Apricot Kernel Butter here).


Next is another frequent flyer in our household, lightly toasted imageseeds with Tamari. This is usually a combination of pumpkin, sunflower and sesame seeds, amd perhaps some buckwheat, which are lightly toasted under the grill – you have to keep your eye on them and keep stirring them about, nothing happens for quite a while but if you go away to do something else they will be black when you return! Don’t overbrown them, it damages the oils, keep them light. Then remove from the grill and splash Tamari over them. It will sizzle and you need to mix up the seeds quickly to coat them all before it dries up. Love the salty crunch! You can eat them on their own for a protein pick-me-up or sprinkle on stir-fries and salads.

imageHumous is an old standby and there is always some in our fridge. The whole family loves it, even the babies and teenagers! I love it with crudités and oatcakes. Or with a salad. Plain and simple.

There are so many recipes out there to make your own, it’s so easy and you can vary the flavours and textures by adding chilli, paprika or cayenne, lemon juice or lime. Most of the time though, I confess we have ready-made (always organic) because inevitably I get the urge too late and need something right here, right now! We don’t always have time or the forethought to prepare ahead of time, and to be honest I am one of those people who never knows what they’re going to want to eat several hours in advance. It drives my husband crazy as he is the opposite and likes to have a week’s menu set up, but I can’t do it. That’s why we favour simple, quick, thrown-together meals.

imageOpen sandwiches are always good for a more substantial snack or light lunch. These are made in my case with home-made gluten-free bread, topped with avocado and green salad, or peanut butter and banana, or even made with sliced and toasted sweet potato!

(Yes, you read that right, Sweet Potato Toast. But more on that in a minute).


My grandchildren would have added strawberry jam to this combination, but I’m not a fan of PB&J.

We recently made a loaf with organic cornflour, tiger nut flour* and imagechickpea flour (recipe here). We sliced it up and put some in the freezer for afternon snacks or light lunch for me, when it is lightly toasted and, in this photo, spread with tahini and topped with romaine, ridge cucumber, spring onions, green olives and black pepper. Very satisfying.


But my pièce de résistance is Sweet Potato Toast!

A young woman had a hankering for avocado on toast but discovered she had no bread. Not to be done out of having her beloved avocado, she sliced up a sweet potato and put them in the toaster! Ta-da! A new snack was born.

We experimented one weekend and discovered they need to be thinly sliced and need two full goes in a basic toaster, about 10 minutes or so, depending on the thickness of the slices and whether you want them soft or with a little bite.

imageIn this photo, we have banana and peanut butter, tahini topped with lightly toasted sesame seeds sprinkled with Tamari, Natex low salt yeast extract – which didn’t work too well, the flavour was fine but it melted and ran off the sweet potato when it was picked up to eat – and most ingenious of all: whole-fruit, sugar-free strawberry jam! And it was so filling, I could only eat two of them. I saved the others for later, they were fine cold as well.

Speaking of sweet potatoes: There is no better comfort food than Sweet Potato Oven Chips! We scrub the sweet potatoes (organic), leave the skin on and slice very thinly. Melt some coconut oil, add any seasoning you like – salt, chilli powder, black pepper, cumin seeds etc – and toss the chips in it. Spread them on a tray and cook for about 20 minutes at about 180C in a fan oven. Turn them over occasionally. Good on their own, with humous or any other dip. This one is Cheesy Cashew Dip with Paprika and Onion (recipe here).

Of course, for convenience, nutrition and portability, you can’t really beat plain cashews, almonds and walnuts with raisins, dried apricots, some shredded coconut and mixed seeds to create your own trail mix.

Hope that’s enough to keep you going! You see, I’m really not just sitting here nibbling on a lettuce leaf with a carrot on the side 😉


Copyright: Chris McGowan

Cauliflower Oats (Don’t Laugh, It’s a Thing!)

imageNo really.

I know, you thought courgette (zucchini) oats and beetroot oats were pushing it, but Rachel at Healthy and Psyched raised the bar considerably: she challenged me to try cauliflower oats and I am pleased to say I not only rose to that challenge, I reached the bar and leapt over it!

I know it’s weird, but if you change your perspective a little and see oats in the same way as, say, rice which you have either savoury (risotto) or sweet (rice pudding), or even a mixture of both – we put raisins or dried apricots in some rice meals – then it’s not quite so odd.

Not convinced?

Look at the photo, it’s sweet and fruity and has peanut butter too – I love cauliflower with peanut butter (we put it in a casserole with cauliflower and cashews) – and peanut butter goes well with banana too.

You can use whatever berries you want, Rachel used blueberries, I thought raspberries would go well but there was half a pomegranate to use up, so in it went. You could add cacao, if liked.

Cauliflower is a good source of B Vitamins, Magnesium, Vitamin K, Vitamin C; peanut butter and oats also have B Vitamins and protein and more magnesium in the oats – necessary for healthy muscles, preventing cramps, keeping you calm – and the nut milks are equally nutritious as well as sweet and creamy. Pomegranate is a nutritional superfood, with plenty of phytochemicals that help reduce blood pressure. The whole bowl is filled with dietary fibre.

Here goes for the  first attempt: All ingredients are organic (except pomegranate), vegan and gluten-free.


1/2 Cup Oats

3/4 Cup Boiling Water

1/4 Small Cauliflower, grated

1/2 large Banana

1 Medjool Date, chopped

1/2 Cup Tiger Nut Milk or Almond Milk (click links to make your own)

1/4 Pomegranate or Berries

1 Tbsp Peanut Butter

A few Slices of Banana to Serve


Soak the oats in the boiling water in a saucepan for a few minutes while you prepare the cauli and get everything else ready.

Add the grated cauli, the banana, the chopped date and the milk

This bit is important:

Cook for about 15 minutes, stirring frequently, to ensure the cauli is cooked.


(If you’d like it extra smooth, you could blend it with a stick blender)

Pour into a bowl either on top of frozen berries of your choice, or just add fresh berries, peanut butter and slices of banana for the topping in whatever fashion your creative juices dictate.


It really works! Go on, who’s going to be first to give it a go? If it makes it easier, adding the cauliflower gives you 1 of your 5 a day veg and it is soooo filling – this bowl filled me up until mid-afternoon. It’s far more than I would normally eat that early in the day.

I said to my husband that there was enough for two, but he didn’t take me up on it, he suddenly remembered he had a bike to fix!

Copyright: Chris McGowan

Banana & Sweet Apricot Kernel Smoothie

imageThis gorgeously light and delicate smoothie was created on a beautiful Spring morning and I couldn’t resist adding a photo of these striking red tulips in amongst the forget-me-nots – the smoothie looks a bit peely-wally by comparison (Scots: look it up! One for you Scribbleartie 😉)

Have you ever had bananas and peanut butter? If so, you’ll love this. It has home-made Sweet Apricot Kernel butter in it, but you can substitute it if you wish. I’d just read a Raw Chocolate Company tweet about their special offer on Sweet Apricot Kernels and I remembered we still had a bag in the cupboard, so we put them together et voilà!

                                     image                   Sweet Apricot Kernels are like small delicate almonds and can be used in the same way. You can make Sweet Apricot Kernel Butter and milk as you would with almonds.

 B vitamins, healthy fats, protein and electrolytes in a glass. Sweet and simple, so what are you waiting for?


All ingredients are organic, vegan and gluten-free. 


1 Small Ripe Banana

Handful of Sweet Apricot Kernels*

1 Tbsp Hemp Seeds*

1 Tbsp Chia Seeds*

1 Tbsp Raw Unsweetened Sweet Apricot Kernel Butter or Peanut Butter

1 Heaped Tbsp Gluten-Free Oats

1 Glass Unsweetened Coconut Water


Blend and relax.


This recipe is for Bernadette over at she hadn’t heard of sweet apricot kernels until she read my recipe for Oh-So-Choolatey Hemp Seed Coins – there are some more recipes which have them among their ingredients here.


Copyright: Chris McGowan