Going completely indulgent for this one but enjoying food is one of the many great pleasures in life and one of the few things we still have to enjoy during the current pandemic lockdown.Also this might be a scrumptious recipe to try over the Easter and especially f there is lots of chocolate around!! No baking required and although there may seem like quite a few steps, it’s just because there are a few different layers. This means all the more mixing bowls and spoons to lick clean after!!! Have fun, happy making and sharing!! Beannachtaí na Cásca oraibh.

Please follow ‘Biabites’ on Facebook for other food ideas especially in the ‘Fun food’ and ‘Recipes’ albums.Please follow @BiaBites on twitter.For nutrition talks/workshops at events or in schools/workplaces/community groups= please email:niamh@biabites.netNiamh Arthurs BSc, Msc Registered Dietitian and Researcher.

Ingredients:

600g dark chocolate digestive biscuits
300g butter
75g peanuts
100g dark chocolate

For the caramel:

75g caster sugar
120g butter
400g (approx-397g is fine!!) tin sweetened condensed milk
1 tablespoon golden syrup

{Alternatively for convenience, use a 400g tin (OR 397g as available in shops) of caramel.}

Method:

Grease or pre-line a non-stick springform based tin.To make the biscuit base: place the biscuits in a strong bag that can be tied and can withstand the force of a rolling pin!
(I use an empty breakfast cereal bag). Bash the biscuits using a rolling pin or other utensils until they form fine crumbs.Alternatively you could blitz the biscuits in a food processor/blender.Melt the butter in a saucepan. Take off the heat and stir in the biscuit crumbs until well mixed.Tip the biscuit mixture into the tin and press down firmly with the back of a spoon to make a smooth and even surface.Place in the fridge to chill while making the caramel.To make the caramel: gently melt the sugar, butter, condensed milk and golden syrup in a saucepan.Then increase the heat until just below the boil and stir vigorously using a whisk for approximately 15 minutes as the sauce changes colour from a lighter to a darker brown and thickens. If clumping starts to occur, remove from the heat and whisk vigorously to combine again. Allow the caramel to cool slightly as it will thicken further as it cools. Then pour the caramel over the biscuit base. Place in the refrigerator to cool fully.(If using a tin of caramel instead, then skip step 5 and 6 and just pour the already made caramel over the biscuit base and place in the refrigerator to harden. Finely chop the peanuts. Sprinkle on top of the caramel. Melt the chocolate and pour on top of the peanuts (ensure the caramel has cooled fully), making a creative design! I did a zig-zag drizzle as in the image! White chocolate could also be melted and used to decorate it! Store in an airtight container.

Please follow ‘Biabites’ on Facebook for other food ideas especially in the ‘Fun food’ and ‘Recipes’ albums. Please follow @BiaBites on twitter. For nutrition talks/workshops at events or in schools/workplaces/community groups= please email: niamh@biabites.net Niamh Arthurs BSc, Msc Registered Dietitian and Researcher.

Some of you may have given up sweet foods for lent. Some of you may be trying to cut back on sweet foods as part of healthy eating plans or goals or new year’s resolutions.Or some of you may just like trying out new food ideas and recipes!!! This recipe is super quick, easy and you can tailor it to your taste preferences or to whatever is in your kitchen cupboards!! I love the crunch that the dried edamame beans or nuts provide in this recipe and the richness of the dark chocolate. It is also very satisfying and filling. Edamame Beans are green soya beans which have become very popular due to their nutritious properties including high levels of protein and fibre which can help to keep us fuller for longer.
Edamame Beans also contain vitamins A, K and folate, and are good sources of calcium, manganese and iron. If you don’t have or like edamame beans, you could use nuts or seeds or dried fruit instead in this recipe!

Ingredients:

200g Dried Edamame Beans OR nuts OR seeds OR a combination with some dried fruit!!!
200g GOOD Quality dark chocolate (Please Note: When I state good quality dark chocolate, it does not need to be expensive. Most supermarkets have good quality dark chocolate at reasonable prices. The difference is how the chocolate melts and reforms. Good quality dark chocolate will melt smoothly and reform into a smooth bark. The not so good quality chocolate may turn lumpy and crumbled!)

Tip: I love the bright green colour of the dried edamame beans which makes them stand out against the dark chocolate but for a variety of colours, use a mixture of different coloured dried fruits, nuts, seeds etc.

You could even do an Irish flag theme for St Patrick’s Day with green pistachios or pumpkin seeds, orange apricots and white coconut chips or flakes!

Method:

  1. Spread out a sheet of greaseproof paper on a baking tray or lunchbox.
  2. Melt the dark chocolate either: in a heat-proof bowl over a pot of gently simmering water and stir intermittently until just about all the chocolate is melted, OR in the microwave at 30-second intervals, stirring after each one. Please stand by the chocolate whichever way you melt it, have patience, don’t forget to stir and be careful not to overdo it!
  3. Pour the melted dark chocolate onto the pre-lined tray/lunchbox and spread it into a rectangle. Do not let any condensation or water droplets fall onto the melted dark chocolate as they do not mix well!
  4. Scatter over the dried edamame beans OR nuts OR seeds or fruit. Allow it to cool and set at room temperature for a few hours. 5. When hardened, break up the bark into pieces or use a sharp knife to cut it neatly into squares, triangles or however you like!!

Store within an airtight container and use within 2 weeks. Bain sult as (=Enjoy)!!!!

Please follow ‘Biabites’ on Facebook for other food ideas especially in the ‘Fun food’ and ‘Recipes’ albums. Please follow @BiaBites on twitter. For nutrition talks/workshops at events or in schools/workplaces/community groups= please email: niamh@biabites.net Niamh Arthurs BSc, Msc Registered Dietitian and Researcher.

With Wintry weather and the season for colds and flu, the below recipe is a simple way to help achieve ' 7 a day' for fruit and vegetables and boost intakes of the all important nutrients for our immune systems including Vitamin A and Vitamin C. Make a big batch and use leftovers the following day or to make a 'veggie' tasty soup!!! Please feel free to use whatever vegetables you like or are available/in season.Although as the saying goes "Variety is the spice of life"!!!

Ingredients: -3 Sweet potatoes -2 Carrots -1 Courgette -2 Red onions -4 Cloves of garlic -1 Green pepper-1 Yellow pepper-1 Red pepper -10 Cherry tomatoes -1 Chilli (or 2 depending on if you want it hot!)-4 tablespoons Balsamic vinegar -2 tablespoons dried Basil or other herbs of your liking -Black pepper to season.

Method:

1. Preheat oven to 200'c.

2. Prepare all vegetables by washing, peeling and chopping as appropriate. I diced, sliced and roughly chopped my vegetables into chunks as in the image.

3. Place the sliced sweet potatoes with x2 tablespoons Balsamic vinegar onto a large and long baking tray. Bake in the oven for 20minutes at180'c (160'c fan oven) Gas mark 4.

4. Remove tray from oven. Turn the sliced sweet potatoes around on the tray and add the carrots, red onions, garlic, chilli, herbs, spices and the other x2 tablespoons Balsamic vinegar. Ensure all the vegetables on the tray are coated in the herbs, spices and Balsamic vinegar
5.Place tray back in the oven for another 15minutes.

6. Remove tray from oven. Turn vegetables around to ensure even cooking. Add the remaining vegetables left (peppers and tomatoes). Place back in the oven for another 15minutes or until the vegetables are cooked how you like them!

(Tip: Some vegetables take longer to cook than others hence the different lengths of baking time for the different vegetables)

Please follow'Biabites'Facebook for other food ideas especially in the 'Fun food' and 'Recipes' albums.

Please follow @BiaBites on twitter.For nutrition talks/workshops at events or in schools/workplaces/community groups= please email: niamh@biabites.net.

Niamh Arthurs BSc, Msc Registered Dietitian

Why not try Veganuary in January?

New Year - New Goals? Many people reflect on things they would like to change around this time of year.Some people consider changing for the whole month of January or giving something a go in the first few months of the year and seeing how they get on.A popular trend for January is ‘Veganuary’ whereby people opt for a vegan lifestyle for the month of January. I am not suggesting that everyone reading this needs to go to that extent but research shows that having some meat free meals each week and more plant based foods in our diet can be good for our health. One idea for a meat free meal and more plant based food is this recipe and even better if there are some helping hands to get involved!!

Ingredients:
Makes x12 - Can be oven baked OR pan fried

1 large onion, diced
4 cloves garlic, diced
3 tablespoons Balsamic vinegar
1 large butternut squash
1 tin (400g) beans of your choice (such as black beans or kidney beans)
100g oats
1 tablespoon dried chilli flakes
2 teaspoons ground cumin
2 teaspoons dried oregano
50g milled flaxseed OR plain flour for coating
Method:

Preheat oven to 200’, Peel the butternut squash, remove the seeds and cut into chunks. Toss the butternut squash in the Balsamic vinegar and place onto a non-stick baking tray. Roast in the pre-heated oven at 180’c for around 45 minutes or until it is quite soft and tender. Sauté the onion in a pan until soft (usually takes around 3-5 minutes). Add in the garlic for another minute of cooking. Remove from heat. Rinse and drain the beans. Mash the beans and roasted butternut squash together. Gradually fold in the rest of the ingredients (including the softened onion and garlic), BUT NOT the milled flaxseed/flour. Mix to form a dough. Sprinkle the milled flaxseed OR flour onto a flat surface/ large plate. Shape the dough mixture into burger patties using your hands on top of this surface. Slightly wet your hands to prevent the mixture sticking to them.OR use a cookie cutter to help form rounded shapes for the burgers. Ensure that the surfaces of the burgers are coated in the milled flaxseed/flour. Place the burger patties onto a non stick baking tray or a parchment lined baking tray and bake in the oven at 180’c for 30-40minutes. Make sure to flip the burgers half-way through baking.Alternatively (instead of baking), place the burger patties onto a heated non-stick pan with some cooking oil of your choice and fry over a medium heat for approximately 5-7minutes on each side until both sides are crispy.Serve straight up with toppings of choice or freeze for later.

Wishing you and your families health and happiness for 2021. Here is to a New Year!!!

Please follow’Biabites’Facebook for other food ideas especially in the ‘Fun food’ and ‘Recipes’ albums.Please follow@BiaBiteson twitter.For nutrition talks/workshops at events or in schools/workplaces/community groups= please email: niamh@biabites.net Niamh Arthurs BSc, Msc Registered Dietitian.

Ingredients: The following are optional, you can really use your imagination and foods that you/the family likes for this.I used as in the image:-Slices of cold meats such as Salami, Prosciutto,Pepperoni -x6 Baby bell peppers stuffed with a soft cheese such as Ricotta cheese, cottage cheese or cream cheese-Slices of yellow and orange pepper as in the image (You could use any other coloured pepper too! -Carrot sticks-2 chunks cucumber (for the eyes)-2 sticks of celery (for the legs!)-2 green olives sliced in half (for the feet)-2 dips such as different flavoured and coloured hummus, salsa or sour cream and chive

Instructions!
1.Place the main body of the bird onto the serving plate first such as slices of cold meats as in the image. I layered the slices of cold meats over one another and in x4 rows down and x3-4 rows across.
2.Place the 2 dips at the top of the bird’s body as created in step 1. Place the cucumber chunks into the 2 dips (the skin side facing out for more colour).
3.Add the curved strips of yellow pepper around the sides of the bird’s body (for feathers!).
4.Place the carrot sticks side by side at the top of the dips on the serving dish .
5.Add in the rounded triangle shaped orange pepper on top of the carrot sticks and as the nose as in the image.
6.Place the 2 sticks of celery for the legs at the bottom of the bird’s body and the lower end of the serving plate.
7.Add in the sliced olives at the end of the celery sticks for the feet.
8.Add in the stuffed baby bell peppers to the bird’s body and…..Voilà, amusez-vous bien !!

Ingredients:-5 Slices of melon-1 grape-2 mandarin orange segments

Instructions!
1.Place melon slices on the serving plate/dish for the angel’s body as shown in the image.
2.Place the 2 mandarin orange segments either side of the melon as wings.
3.Slice the bottom off a grape and pace at the top of the melon slices as the angel’s head.
Sin é, bain sult as!

With lockdown and Covid restrictions, baking has been on the rise and became a more regular occurrence,even in households who never baked before!! This recipe here is quite a basic bread but the resulting loaf is really lovely and the beautiful baking smells are so comforting especially on darker Winter days. For more fibre, use a strong wholemeal flour.

Ingredients:

500g strong flour (And a bit more for kneading)
1.5 teaspoons salt
2 tablespoons olive oil (Helps give the bread a nice colour!)
1x7g sachet active dry yeast
3 teaspoons sugar
300ml warm water (Not too hot or it will kill the yeast) Preheat a casserole or pyrex dish with a lid for 30minutes at 250’c (has to have a lid in order for the bread to rise in the oven)
Method:

  1. Mix dry yeast well into the flour in a large mixing bowl.
  2. Add sugar, salt and olive oil. Then add the warm water.
  3. Mix well until it combines together to form a dough.
  4. Sprinkle some flour on a flat surface. Knead the dough for 10-15mins until the dough is less sticky, has a smoother surface and can stretch without tearing.
    If the dough is sticking to your hands, you could coat rub a small amount of olive oil all over your hands.
  5. Roll the dough around to form into a ball.
  6. Put a small amount of olive oil in a bowl and place the dough ball inside. Completely seal the top of this bowl with cling film.
    Leave to prove (set aside in a warm place) for 2-3hours until the dough has doubled in size.
  7. Sprinkle some flour on a flat surface. Knock the air out of the dough by pressing it. Shape again into a ball and leave for 1hour to do a final proof.
  8. Score the top of the dough using a sharp knife. This helps the gases release
  9. Place the dough in the preheated dish with the lid on for 20minutes at 250’c.
  10. Remove the lid and allow bread to cook for a few more minutes in the oven until golden brown.
  11. Place on a cooling rack/tray. Allow to completely cool before cutting. This can take up to 2hours.

For school, workplace, sports or community group nutrition talks/workshops please email: niamh@biabites.net See my ‘Fun food’ and ‘Recipes’ albums on ‘Biabites’ Facebook for other food ideas.

Niamh Arthurs BSc, Msc Registered Dietitian

I thought that with all the different treats at Halloween, this might be a useful way to use them up! I often make birthday cakes for my nieces and nephews and this was one creation which ended up being devoured after a lot of playing, a lot of chocolatey faces and a lot of sticky fingers! It is quite simple to assemble but looks very effective! To save time, you can buy Swiss roll cakes in advance.
Even get help from other members of the family as it can be great fun creating….although you may end up with no ingredients left to make the cake!

Ingredients:

2 chocolate Swiss roll cakes
1 pack chocolate finger biscuits
1 pack ‘Jammy Dodger’ type biscuits (around 8 individual)
1 pack mini chocolate rolls (about 12 individual)
1 chocolate teacake
2 large white marshmallows (for steam coming out of the train!) - An assortment of colourful or chocolatey sweets to decorate the train

Method:

  1. Assemble the train track with the chocolate finger biscuits by placing 2 fingers opposite each other and 1 chocolate finger at both ends. Use as many chocolate finger biscuits as you like depending on how long/short you would like the train track to be!
  2. Place x2 mini chocolate rolls within each square of the chocolate finger biscuits.
  3. Sit 1 of the chocolate Swiss roll cakes on top of the mini chocolate rolls at the end that you would like the top of the train to be.
  4. Use toothpicks to hold the Jammy Dodger biscuits in place as wheels on the Swiss roll cake and for the chocolate teacake and marshmallows at the top of the train’s engine.
  5. Slice the other chocolate Swiss roll cake into a total of 4 pieces; 1 small slice to go on top of the main train and 3 larger slices for the train carriages.
  6. For the train’s carriages, cut a small slice of each piece of Swiss roll cake and place these on top of the remaining mini chocolate rolls with the filling facing upwards. The exposed Swiss roll cake filling helps the decorations to stick on top!
  7. Place whatever sweets, chocolates or decorations you like onto the carriages.
    Enjoy!!!!

Please see my ‘Fun food’ and ‘Recipes’ albums on ‘Biabites’Facebook for other food ideas.For school, workplace, sportsor community group nutrition talks/workshops please email:niamh@biabites.net
Niamh Arthurs BSc, MSc
Registered Dietitian

Some of us are getting back to work, school and some sort of routine; and along with that comes preparing lunches again!Food preparation can form a very valuable part of routine but it may have subsided in the last few months.These cereal bars are very simple to make in advance and you probably already have most of the ingredients at home.Store them in a greaseproof paper lined container in the freezer and take out in the morning or a few hours before eating.

Makes 12 squares - Ingredients:-300g dates (soak in about 100mls water overnight to help make a sticky date paste!)-200g rice cereal (eg.Rice Krispies or brown rice cereal) -70g almond butter (if you don't have almond butter, substitute for another nut butter such as peanut butter -50g dark chocolate chips. Optional: 50g seeds ( I used pumpkin, sunflower seeds and coconut chips as pictured in the image)If you are not adding any other ingredients such as these then use a totalof 250g rice cereal.

Method:1.Line a container or lunchbox with greaseproof paper.

2.Mash the dates in a blender/food processor or simply using a fork and some muscle! This forms a sticky date paste which helps to bind the rest of the ingredients.

3.Place all of the ingredients except the almond butter into a mixing bowl and mix well together.

4.Add the almond butter to this mixture and combine well.

5.Place the well combined mixture into the pre-lined container and use the back of a spoon to smooth the surface.

6.Place into a freezer for 2-3hours. Then cut into squares or the shape that takes your fancy.

Store in the freezer and remove 1-2hours before eating.

For school, workplace, sports or community group nutrition talks/workshops

please email:niamh@biabites.net

See my 'Fun food' and 'Recipes' albums on 'Biabites'Facebook for other food ideas.

Niamh Arthurs BSc, MSc

Registered Dietitian

A satisfying and scrumptiously refreshing summertime snack! Packed with protein and calcium.

The ingredients are fairly flexible so tailor to your tastes and use whatever flavour of yogurt/fruit/toppings you like! Vanilla yogurt or adding some honey make it scrumptious!

The most important ingredient to use is Greek or Greek style yogurt as this will prevent ice crystals forming.

Here are a few other ideas as shown in the image

Blueberry yogurt bark

-200g Greek or Greek style yogurt

-100g blitzed blueberries (in a blender or simply mash with a fork)

Multi-coloured yogurt bark

-250g Greek or Greek style yogurt

-1x passion fruit

-20g cocao nibs

-10g goji berries

Tip:

The size of the lunchbox you use determines the thickness of the bark.

I used a 12cm lunchbox for the yogurt bark in these images which made

the yogurt bark 1cm thick. If the yogurt bark is too thick, it will be difficult to bite into it!

Method:

1. Line a lunchbox with cling film.

2. Mix the yogurt in a bowl with your choice of ingredients. Keep a few to sprinkle on top.

3. Pour the yogurt into the lunchbox.

3. Sprinkle the remainder of the ingredients on top of the yogurt.

4. Put the lid on the lunchbox and place in a freezer for 2-4hours or until completely frozen.

You will need to allow a few minutes for it to slightly defrost and become soft before eating.

For nutrition and healthy eating talks or workshops in preschools, primary or secondary schools,workplaces, sports or community groups please email:niamh@biabites.netSee my 'Fun food' and 'Recipes' albums on 'Biabites' Facebook for other food ideas.Niamh Arthurs BSc, Msc Registered Dietitian