Category Archives: Bargain Bites

Banana Flapjacks

Sugar free gluten free banana flapjacksThis is the simplest recipe I’ve devised yet. It’s wholesome and satisfying and has zero refined sugar. Plus it’s an excellent way to use up brown overripe bananas, and porridge oats are super cheap! The slow releasing carbohydrates are great for keeping children satisfied until supper time. They also make a fantastic grab and go breakfast!

Sugar free gluten free banana flapjacks 2

Blend 2 over ripe bananas with a generous handful of dates, 2 tbsp of peanut butter and 100g of melted butter. Stir in 250g oats and press mixture into a lined 9 x 9 inch tin. Bake on gas mark 4 / 180 C/ 350F for 30 minutes until golden brown. Allow to cool before cutting into 16 pieces. Store in an air tight tin or the fridge for extra freshness – delicious! Melissa loves to help so she can lick the bowl clean.

NB/ if you’re gluten free – make sure you use certified gluten free oats.

Asparagus ENDS – mini quiche

Asparagus endsIt always make me sad when the asparagus season comes to an end. We’ve been picking our own from Rectory Farm at every opportunity. But there are many other PYO’s in Oxfordshire doing the same and all of them are worth a visit – read more on that here.

Towards the end of the season the asparagus ends begin to get tough. Not one for throwing things away I’ve been thinking about a recipe I could devise that uses up these delicious and nutritious ends that would have previously gone in the bin. I found that if you chop them up finely and sauté them in a little butter with onion and garlic, that they make a delicious quiche filling. If you got any leftover cheese – a scattering on top really makes these mini mouthfuls a wonderful summers picnic treat.

Here’s the recipe which makes 12 mini quiches

Asparagus ends mini quiche2oz/50g butter
4oz/100g plain flour
2fl oz milk
2 eggs
1 small onion
1 garlic clove
10 asparagus ends
50g cheese, grated

Method – Rub together the butter and flour until it resembles breadcrumbs. Add a few tsp of water and combine until you have a nice ball of pastry. Cover with cling film and put the pastry in the fridge to chill for about 10 minutes.

Slice the asparagus ends into small disks and gently fry in a little butter or olive oil with a finely chopped white onion and some crushed garlic. This should take about 5 minutes. In a jug, whist the eggs and milk together and season with salt and pepper. Grate the cheese.

Roll out the pastry very thinly on a floured surface. Cut out circles from your pastry large enough to fit the muffin tin. Using some extra butter, grease your tins, and then sprinkle on a little flour. Gently press in a circle of pasty in to each space.

put a tsp of grated cheese at the bottom of each one. then add a little of the asparagus / onion filling. Now fill up the cases with the egg and milk mixture.

Cook for 12 – 15 minutes on 220C, 350F or Gas Mark 7. Allow to cook before removing, then serve with a fresh leaf salad. Yummy!

Black bean & Brazil Nut Fudge Brownies

Black bean and brazil nut sugar free browniesSounds like a strange combination but bare with me…it works. I’ve been searching for a brownie recipe that is both satisfyingly naughty but guilt free and healthy too. This recipe fits the bill. It’s Feel Good Food at its best.

Instead of using sugar – dates create the sweetness, as well as providing 15 different essential minerals and B vitamins. Black beans add texture as well as complex carbohydrates and protein to make you feel fuller for longer. Brazil nuts provide selenium and essential fats which have both been proven to lift the mood. And chocolate – well that’s just for pleasure. It’s a well known fact that chocolate stimulates endorphins in the brain that make you feel fantastic! The Ultimate MOOD FOOD!

sugar free blackbean browniesHere’s the recipe –

200g of dates
1  x 400g tin of Black beans
100g cocoa powder
4 tbsp of butter melted
2 farm eggs
2 tsp baking powder
2 tsp vanilla extract
60g chopped Brazil nuts

1) Soak the dates in water for 1 hour. Strain, keeping the soaking liquid to one side. Blend the dates and add some of the liquid until they turn into a smooth thick paste (you’ll probably need about 2-4 tbsp liquid).

2) Rinse the beans thoroughly, especially if they’ve been stored in salt water. Blend the beans with the date paste.

Chocolate black bean brazil nut sugar free brownies3) Add the melted butter, eggs, baking powder and vanilla, and blend again until all smooth. Now put everything in a bowl and fold in the cocoa powder until thoroughly mixed.

4) Lightly grease a 9×9 baking tin with butter. Pour in the brownie mixture and smooth with a spatula until even. Scatter the chopped Brazil nuts on top and gently press them into the mixture.

5) Bake for 35-40 minutes on gas mark 4 or until firm to the touch and a skewer comes out clean. Leave to cool before chopping into delicious chunks! Enjoy!

Homemade Nutella recipe

homemade nutella dairy free gluten free coconut oilWhat child doesn’t like Nutella? Chocolatey  nutty goodness that apparently contains 2  hazelnuts in each serving. Healthy right? Wrong. A serving of Nutella also contains palm oil (the palm oil industry are responsible for the deforestation of the orangutan’s natural habit), and as much sugar as two chocolate biscuits! Not the ideal breakfast. So, I thought I’d have a go at making  a healthier (and more frugal) version.

Melt 50g dark chocolate with 50g of butter (coconut oil would be even better if you can stretch the budget). Blend 150g of de-skinned peanuts (or any nuts would do) for about 5-10 minutes until they turn into a paste. If you want a richer flavour you could toast the nuts first. Add the nut paste to the runny chocolate mixture and taste. If you want it sweeter you could add a teaspoon of honey, agave or maple syrup. It’s certainly a hit in our household!

150g peanuts = 75p
50g dark chocolate = 15p
50g butter = 20p

Total = £1 for 250g

(Nutella costs £135 for a 200g jar)

Carrot & banana flapjacks (7p each)

Carrot and banana flapjacksI’m loving this recipe for using up two items that would’ve ended up in the food waste bin today. Firstly an overripe, slightly bruised banana and secondly, some carrot peelings from our roast over the weekend. This flapjack is also remarkably healthy as it contains no refined sugars, and plenty of simple wholegrain oats. Here goes –

Take 200g of oats and mix with 50 grams of finely chopped carrot peelings (tip – give the carrots a good scrub before peeling so they are nice and clean). In a food processor blend 1 large or 2 small ripe bananas, 2 tbsp of butter (or peanut butter works well too), and 8 dates until a smooth paste. Stir the wet mixture into the dry ingredients until thoroughly combined.  Line a 9 x 9 inch baking tray with parchment paper. Press down the oaty mixture into the lined tray until even and compact. Bake for 20 minutes on gas mark 5 / 190C until golden brown. Allow to cool before cutting.

Carrot peelings = from the waste bin
Oats = 17p
Banana – 20p
Dates = 40p
2 tbsp (30g) butter = 12p

Total = 89p for 12 (7p each)

Leftover porridge oatmeal biscuits

Leftover porridge makes oatmeal biscuitsDon’t you hate it when you make something that then gets turned down by your child? This was the case this morning. Porridge was just not welcomed. I hate throwing anything away, so decided to turn this oaty mush into oatmeal biscuits, so that I could feed it back later in the day. I know, it’s sneaky but necessary when feeding a family on a budget.

Leftover porridge makes oatmeal raisin biscuitsMy recipe is not exact, but it really doesn’t need to be to create really tasty oatmeal biscuits. I had approximately 1 cup of leftover porridge, I then mixed this with 1 cup of all purpose flour, 1 egg, 3 tbsp of brown sugar, 1 tbsp of butter and a generous handful of raisins. The mixture was sticky but not overly wet. You could add more or less flour if needed. I then formed the dough into 8 medium sized rounds (but I could have made 12 small ones) and placed them on a tray lined with baking paper squashing them down a little to make rustic biscuit shapes. They were baked for 20-25 minutes at gas mark 5/ 190C until golden brown. They were delicious and no-one guessed they were breakfast leftovers!

Millet Nut Bars (19p a portion)

There’s have become a family favourite. They are nutty and filling, a great grab-and-go breakfast, as well as being free of refined sugars and extremely tasty. Millet as described in my last post (millet salad) is a versatile grain full of minerals and B vitamins. It’s also naturally gluten free. I had a cup of cooked millet leftover from making millet salad last week, and thought it would be good replacement for oats in a flapjack type bar. Here’s the recipe –

Millet and nut granola barWhiz 1 cup of mixed nuts in a blender until finely chopped (but not powder), add these to 1 cup of cooked millet, and 1 cup raisins and set aside.

In the blender again place 1 large (or 2 small) ripe banana, 2 tbsp of peanut butter and 5 dates. Blend together into a gooey runny mixture. Add the wet mixture to the dry and mix thoroughly. Line a 9 x 9 inch baking tray with baking paper. Spread out your mixture evenly pressing with a spatula.

Place in an oven pre-heated at gas mark 4 / 175 C / 350 F for 20-25 minutes until golden brown and smelling delicious. Allow to cool completely then cut into 12 squares and enjoy as a snack or as breakfast on the go. Healthy and scrumptious!


1 cup (175g) of cooked millet = 15p
1 (150g) cup of nuts (we used cashews) = £1
Banana = 20p
2 tbsp (32g) peanut butter = we make our own for £1 a 250g jar = 32p
5 dates = 20p
1 cup (150g) raisins = 40p

Total = £2.27 (19p a portion)

Orange & Lemon peel Cake

Having suddenly experienced an epiphany about how much food we’ve been wasting – I’ve been discovering ways to use up food that would usually end up in the bin. Check out my potato peeling crisps, food waste soup and home made focaccia – they’re all delicious!

Orange and lemon peelThis cake is a take on Nigella’s clementine and almond cake, but instead of using whole fruit, we’ve been saving up our orange and lemon peels from the past week. All you need to do, is to boil the skins of the fruit for 30 minutes until they are lovely and soft. Then blitz them into a fine pulp. Now add them to any plain cake recipe you want jazzing up.

Carrot and orange almond cakeFor example, you could make a classic Victoria sponge and add the peel and a simple butter cream icing. Or how about trying a Spanish orange and almond cake with a runny icing glaze.

As you can see in the picture to the right, I’ve even added carrot peeling and raisins to the mix for a more classic carrot and orange cake. The cooked peel adds a beautifully moist and zingy quality that fruit juice alone cannot fulfil. Either way, it’s a perfect way to use up your old peelings and can even count as one of your five a day!

Left over potato skin crisps and spicy tomato sauce

potato skinsThe problem with living on a budget is that you become obsessed with food waste. This is a good thing really, but does make me sad when I have to throw something perfectly edible away. Now that we’ve gone local and organic with our veg, I’ve already stopped peeling my carrots and potatoes in favour of scrubbing. But when I’m making mash I still peel as my daughter won’t eat mash with lumps in. It’s been breaking my heart throwing away these edible potato skins especially as most of the nutrients in vegetables lie just below the surface. We’ve been missing crisps this month, so I thought I’d attempt a home-made healthy version using the left over potato skins tossed in olive oil and sea salt and roasted in a hot oven for 10-15 minutes (or until crispy).

You can eat these on their own but there’s nothing better than a spicy dipping sauce. If you use tinned tomatoes it’s really cheap too. Here’s the recipe –

potato skin crisps and spicy tomato sauceDrain off the juice from one tin of tomatoes and then chop the tomatoes roughly. Finely chop 1 onion, 1 clove of garlic and 1 small red chilli. Place the tomatoes, onions, garlic, 100g of castor sugar, 2 tbsp of cider vinegar and 1 tsp salt in a saucepan and bring to the boil. Reduce to a medium heat and gently simmer for 15-20 mins until it’s a sticky chutney. Spoon into a sterilized jar and seal. Or if you’re like us – serve immediately with warm potato skin crisps. A yummy Saturday afternoon snack!

I’m struggling to put a cost on potato skins as they would’ve usually ended up in the food waste. But I would imagine this recipe costs less than 50p to make. And if you’ve got squashy tomatoes at the back of the fridge that need using up – even better!

Pumpkin and Almond Chocolate Cake

Harlequin squashI’ve wanted to bake this week but having run out of butter as well as ideas I was stumped. Then came to me some inspiration from a lonely baby pumpkin sitting at the bottom on my vegetable rack. Small pumpkins are known to have a lovely sweet almost honey-like quality. When roasted they also have a beautifully moist gooey texture. I pondered, could I bake a cake using pumpkin purée instead of butter? Or would I be ruining some beautiful and much needed ingredients. What do I have to lose?… I thought. And I’m glad I did because when all hope was lost, out emerged a sensational cake that could also count as one of your 5 a day! Here’s the recipe:

Pumpkin almond choclate cakeFirst roast the baby squash whole in the oven for about 40 minutes to 1 hour. Once soft and squidgy allow the squash to cool a little then cut it in half and remove the seeds without losing too much of the flesh. Whisk 3 eggs with 200g of sugar until light and fluffy. Melt 100g of dark chocolate. Add the warm squash flesh (about 150g) to the melted chocolate and stir vigorously until completely combined. Add 40g of ground almonds to the sugar egg mixture (you can make your own by blending almonds or buy them already ground). Add 40g of flour to the mixture. Finally add in the chocolate pumpkin purée. Whisk everything really well together until the consistency is smooth. Grease a 20 x 30 cm baking tray very well and pour the mixture in. Bake in a pre-heated oven (175°C/350°F) for about 25-30 minutes, test with a toothpick to make sure it’s cooked through. Leave to cool before cutting into 24 chunks – delicious and (apart from the sugar) pretty healthy too!

100g chocolate (tesco basic) = 30p
40g ground almond = 40p
40g flour = 10p
3 eggs = 60p
200g sugar = 25p
Small pumpkin = 50p
Total = £2.15 for 24 slices (9p each)