Updated: Sep 17, 2020
Flapjacks are a quintessentially British baked good having first made an appearance in the 17th century during the time of Shakespeare. A true flapjack is quite basic and consists of a mixture of oats, honey, butter and then baked.
Like all recipes they are adapted over time to suit the latest trends in eating. They have become a regular feature on supermarket shelves, in delis, cafés and high street chain coffee shops.
But can they be a healthy snack?
I think yes! And especially when homemade when we can control the ingredients.
Most pre-packed or store bought versions are really high in saturated fats and sugars and lower in fibre and minerals, and high in calories. Manufacturers use sugar alternatives such as Invert Sugar Syrups which have high amounts of fructose, implicated in stimulating de novo lipogenesis, making new fat in the liver and storing it, not using it for energy. Natural fructose , as found in fruits does not have the same effect in the body as its effects are offset by the fibre in the fruit and the levels are quite low. Added synthetic fructose is where the problems lie as it is disguised under different names.
Did you know that added sugar is hiding in approximately 74% of packaged foods?
This includes sauces, salad dressings, fizzy drinks, breakfast cereals, gravy, ready meals, fast food, takeaways, biscuits, baked goods and on and on.
And that there are at least 60 names for sugar?
These include common names, such as sucrose and high-fructose corn syrup, as well as barley malt, invert sugar syrup, dextrose, maltose and rice syrup, among others.
I don't add sugar to my hot drinks and I am mindful of the amount I consume from other sources. I chose pure organic maple syrup for this recipe as it has a low Glycaemic Index and lower fructose than honey and most other sugars. Maple syrup also has an impressive array of minerals such as potassium, calcium, magnesium, sodium, zinc, manganese, phosphorus, iron, and selenium. But it is still high in calories!!
These flapjacks are packed with beneficial seeds such as pumpkin, sunflower and sesame. The desiccated coconut is a saturated fat though it is a Medium Chain Triglyceride (MCT), which gets broken down and directly absorbed into the bloodstream and used for energy, not stored as fat. The MCTs in coconut products play an important role in satiety, keeping us fuller for longer and are useful in weight loss/management.
I used quinoa flakes as well as oatmeal for a lighter bake with the added bonus of having a higher protein content too.
Quinoa is one of the most protein-rich foods we can eat. It is a complete protein containing all nine essential amino acids.
Quinoa also has a high content of manganese. Manganese is an antioxidant, which helps to prevent damage to the mitochondria during cellular energy production as well as protecting red blood cells and other cells from injury by free radicals. And of course, the nutritionists favourite, fibre, which is found in quinoa almost twice as much as in other grains.
I love Maca powder for its delicious caramel-like colour and flavour as much as for its benefits. As an adaptogen, Maca is known scientifically as Lepidium meyenii, and is sometimes referred to as Peruvian ginseng. It is actually a member of the cruciferous family of vegetables along with broccoli, kale and cauliflower and has a long history of use in Peru in improving libido, fertility, mood, menopause symptoms and sports endurance. (Like most herbs it needs to be used with caution in pregnancy, breastfeeding and in those with thyroid issues).
RECIPE, makes 12. About 10 minutes prep and 25 baking. Vegan, Gluten Free.
150 grams Jumbo Oats, I use Flahavans
100 grams Quinoa Flakes
100 ml Extra Virgin Olive Oil
40 grams Unsweetened Desiccated Coconut
40 grams Pumpkin Seeds
40 grams Sunflower Seeds
40 grams Sesame Seeds
20 grams Natural Glace Cherries. I used the brand Suma.
20 grams Cacao Nibs
1 tsp Organic Vanilla Essence, Steenberg Organics
1 tbsp Maca Powder
60ml organic Maple Syrup
Gather and weigh and prep your ingredients, your mise-en-place.
Heat the oven to 180°C.
Put the oats and quinoa into a large bowl, add the oil and combine well with a spatula.
Add in all the other ingredients, except the maple syrup, and mix well.
Add the maple syrup, coating all the ingredients well.
Put the mixture into a brownie tin lined with baking parchment and spread until it is nice and even.
Bake for about 25 minutes, you don't want to brown the edges too much. Leave to cool before cutting and devouring.
Gonzales, G., 2012. Ethnobiology and Ethnopharmacology of Lepidium meyenii(Maca), a Plant from the Peruvian Highlands. Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine, 2012, pp.1-10.
Wang, Y. e.t. al., 2018. Medium Chain Triglycerides enhance exercise endurance through increased mitochondrial biogenesis and metabolism. PLoS ONE13(2):e0191182
Jensen, T. e.t. al., 2018. Fructose and sugar: A major mediator of non-alcoholic fatty liver disease. Journal of Hepatology, 68(5), pp.1063-1075.
Recipe inspired by The Happy Pear
Recipe photo credit, my own
Opening photo credit Jade Wulfraat on Unsplash