Banana bread granola bars

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Recently my snacks have felt monotonous to me, so I’ve gone searching for inspiration in different places to create something new I can look forward to.  I keep my snacks simple because it doesn’t always have to be fancy pants to be enjoyable and working long days can make spending hours in the kitchen almost impossible.  One of the reasons I eat healthy is to maintain high energy levels throughout the day and to keep my mind clear.  Everyone lives through challenges and I personally find my own challenges easier to navigate when I look after myself; mind and body.  The food I make, the recipes I create and the exercise I do takes care of the body part.  And I have a few other habits that take care of the mind……

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A few weeks ago my close friend Sean came to visit me in London; we were introduced to each other a few years ago when I arrived home from living in Dubai and we’ve been two peas in a pod ever since. During the first two years of our friendship I stayed over at his on a weekly basis while we spoke for hours about nothing and everything.  We clicked so quickly because we share the same perspective of the world and have always been uncontrollably drawn to understanding human behaviour.  We never have to do anything extravagant to maintain our friendship and still now when we spend time together it’s in our pyjamas.

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So recently as always, we ended up having a really deep conversation about working while pursuing other passions and how difficult it can be, when you want things in your career to be different than what they are.  Sean has a very inspiring brand called ‘that guy who loves the universe’ which has been in the making for more than six years.  His social media outlets inspire people to look at the universe as a friendly place to be.  While Sean earns an income from what he does, he also works on the side to continue growing his dream.  I currently work for Explore Learning managing a tuition centre, while blogging about healthy living through food, exercise and what I refer to as spiritual ways of thinking.  Over the past ten years my life has changed dramatically from all the teachings I’ve ‘stumbled’ across and I hope to inspire women to look after their own health and well being too.  The difference now, is that I blog because it’s my passion and lifestyle and not to get something in return.  I’ve not always felt this way about developing work in this industry though, in-fact we have both lived through the consequences of having an ego driven attitude towards ‘success’.

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When I was 23 I decided to take a leap of faith and create a business in self-development, ballsy thing to do now I look back.  Prior to this I had lived in Dubai for two years working as a primary school teacher and earned a bonus of £10,000.  I used this money to travel to America and attend seminars with some of my favourite authors and speakers as a way to absorb as much information on self development as possible.  I was lucky enough to meet the woman who wrote the first cognitive behavioural therapy book I ever read.  After writing to her, she agreed to meet me and I was treated to dinner with her and her husband in California.  Soon after I became licensed to teach her work – still now one of the highlights of my twenties.

After arriving back from my travels I started to run workshops using the principles in her book.  Despite the positive feedback from many people who attended these workshops, I wasn’t happy with where I was.  I tried to force things to unfold according to the timeline in my head, which was a HUGE barrier to experiencing happiness at that time.  I started to realise that by being SO focused on goals and outcomes, I wasn’t focused at all on the present moment and everything there was to grateful for.  By comparing myself to other people and their businesses, I lost sight of my own journey and the progress that I had made.

On some level I knew there was something off with my thinking back then; there had to have been otherwise I would have been happy.  At the time I thought I was working really hard to create my dream (and I was) but I was also  rushing, borrowing money I didn’t have or knew when I’d be able to pay back to promote my business, hoping ‘success’ would happen quickly. The workshops I ran helped people, but unfortunately I lost sight of this while pursing something ‘bigger’ (like there was something bigger than helping other people…..?!). After a while of feeling like I was pushing a huge rock up a hill, my Mum was diagnosed with cancer, the relationship I was in broke down and I closed the small business I had made to take a job with the company I work for today.  Those few years turned about to be a huge learning curve for me, which actually made everything worthwhile in the end.

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In my experience if you start heading down the wrong path in any area of your life and things get so stressful you lose sight of what’s important, notice and remain open to changing your mind about things.  Whether this change happens through meeting someone who demonstrates a better attitude in this particular area, whether the right book on the topic happens to fall at your feet or whether you calm your mind enough to hear your own inner guidance.  The universe is fully invested in you becoming the person you are capable of being and things will work out for us in the end.  Unfortunately, as humans we often learn through struggles and mistakes as opposed to joy.

After being self employed came to an end, I read and re-read a book called ‘The law of divine compensation’ on work, money and miracles by Marianne Williamson.  From this book and her weekly lectures I have come to believe and strive to live the following principles…..

-Trust that something bigger than you, wants what is best for you.  The universe is a friendly place to be and is truly invested in you becoming the person you’re meant to be.

-Sometimes things come to an end or turn out differently than what you’d planned but that doesn’t necessarily mean you’ve failed.  Often when you take a brutally honest look at why things happened the way they did, you see where you went wrong and become a better person for it-arguably the reason for everything that happens to us.

-Understand that it is almost impossible for you to know what is best for you long term so let your life unfold naturally.  A flower blossoms naturally in the right conditions so focus on your own conditions; look after your body, calm your mind, adopt a growth attitude, work hard and be kind to others.

-Always want to learn and become more but do so from a consciousness of being grateful for everything you have.

-Trust that if a situation or a person is going to provide the right environment for you to become a more enlightened version of yourself, it’s on it’s way and it WILL show up.

-Regardless of what job you have now and whether you hope to be somewhere else in the future, be caring toward others and demonstrate compassion, forgiveness, gratitude and humility.

-Lastly, Yoga.  Meditate.  And surrender.  (Ok, these last three are totally personal to me).

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Bars:
3 way-way ripe bananas
3 tbsp almond butter (I use the one with coconut oil in)
1/4 cup maple syrup
1-2 tbsp honey
1 tbsp  coconut oil + extra for greasing the pan
3 cups rolled oats
1/2 cup of chopped hazelnuts
1/2 cup of chopped walnuts
1/2 cup of cacao nibs

Chocolate drizzle:
100g 70% chocolate

Method:
Preheat the oven to 180 degrees.   Grease a pan with coconut oil. Lay a piece of parchment into the pan (with overhang on the sides) and grease that with more coconut oil. Set aside.

In a blender or food processor, combine the bananas, almond butter, maple syrup, honey and coconut oil.  Pulse or blend until a homogenous and creamy mixture is achieved. Set aside.

In a large bowl, combine the oats, chopped nuts and chocolate chips. Stir to mix. Add the creamy banana mixture and stir until thoroughly combined. Scrape the granola bar mix into the prepared pan. Smooth the mix out, pressing down with a flat surface (measuring cup, spatula) until the mix has evenly filled the pan. Bake the bars for 40 minutes or until golden on the edges/top. Remove from the oven and allow to cool thoroughly on a rack.

Once completely cool, lift the bars out of the pan with the overhanging parchment onto a cutting board. If you still feel residual heat emitting from the bars, allow them to cool down on the rack some more. Once ready, cut the slab right down the middle lengthwise. From here, cut the two halves into 8 bars each.

In a double boiler/non-reactive pan set over a saucepan of barely simmering water, break the chocolate into chunks. Stir constantly with a spatula until chocolate is melted and a sauce forms. Drizzle over the cut granola bars. Refrigerate bars until chocolate is solidified, about 30 minutes. Keep the bars in a sealed container for about a week.

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