Family Flapjacks

Cardboard cutouts of local GPs were recently used to promote the sale of fruit and vegetables in an English supermarket.

Fist-bumping comedy?

Nope. Sales rose by 20%.

It’s one of the ways in which supermarkets are ‘voluntarily’ engaging in the fight against childhood obesity. If it doesn’t work, the British government are threatening to legislate areas thought to be fueling the obesity epidemic – advertising, sugar, trans fat. (Are you thinking what I’m thinking? A similar campaign here might make sense? Featuring, say, the Irish rugby team? In sporty shorts? National policy? Just a suggestion … )

Now for the grim statistics. Here in Ireland 26% of 9 year olds are clinically overweight or obese. We have one of the highest rates of childhood obesity in the world. This is a healthcare crisis. And it threatens every single one of us. How? Because even if you or your children are not overweight, your taxes will go towards the cost of treating the diseases of obesity.

I’m so bored of lazy politicians pointing the finger at children and parents.

Yes, obesity is a “multi-factorial” problem that needs a “multi-factorial” solution, as certain right-wing politicians never tire of reminding us. But blaming the victim is a bit too rich for my stomach, given the government’s complicity in permitting the advertising of junk food all over our country.

Don’t you think?

We know that advertising influences kids’ food preferences, their pester power and their eating patterns. We know this! So how can we call ourselves a civilised society when we let industry manipulate our children’s thoughts? And meddle with the fate of our children’s health?

The Broadcasting Authority of Ireland (BAI) has introduced some restrictions on advertising to children, but it needs our voices to press for much, much more. In Amsterdam, parents have taken to vandalising billboards aimed at brainwashing their children. Could it come to this?

I hope there will be a time when all of this seems like common sense. We will wonder how we ever allowed unscrupulous marketers access to our children.

In the meantime we should remind ourselves that it pays to be dubious about the claims made on behalf of ” healthy” convenience food. Most of the time they are no more nutritious than those cardboard cut-outs now littering English supermarkets.


Family Flapjacks

Kiss bye-bye to those commercial breakfast bars. These flapjacks are cheaper to make and much tastier to nibble. They’ll even make the tailback traffic on the N11 enjoyable.

I found gluten-free sprouted oat flakes in my local health food store this week. They appear to be new on the market. Pure, unadulterated goodness (see photo below). But please don’t think gluten is bad for you – this one’s just for coeliac chicks.



Dry ingredients:

200g / 1 cup Medjool dates, or pre-soaked regular dates
1 cup ground almonds
2 cups oats
1/2 cup walnuts, roughly broken
Handful of sunflower seeds
1/2 cup raisins
½ teaspoon sea salt flakes (adults only)
2 teaspoons cinnamon


Wet ingredients:

125ml / 1/2 cup honey, brown rice syrup or barley malt extract (or agave for those on a lower glycemic count)
185ml / 3/4 cup melted extra virgin coconut oil


Preheat your oven to 170 Celsius / 325 Fahrenheit / 150 fan-assisted. Chop the dates and combine with the remaining dry ingredients in a large bowl.

Using a saucepan, gently melt the coconut oil with your choice of natural sweetener for 2 minutes. Strangely, maple syrup doesn’t work. Sorry! It’s worth noting that brown rice and barley malt (contains gluten) are not nearly as sweet as honey.

Create a hole in the centre of your dry ingredients and add the sweetened coconut oil to the party. Mix until all the ingredients are glistening. Now you can scrape the flapjack mixture into a parchment-lined tin no bigger than a magazine page. Press down firmly with your fingers. Admire your brilliance.

Bake for 30 minutes until lightly golden. Oats will turn bitter if you leave them to brown (agave syrup can accelerate this). Remove the tray from the oven. Carefully press down with your fingers once more, using a clean tea towel. Resist cutting until they have chilled and solidified in the fridge for a few hours. They’ll last for 2 weeks if stored in the fridge. 10 seconds if you leave them on the kitchen counter.


sprouted oats



This article has 33 comments

  1. Rita

    I absolutely love your recipes! I have been cooking in a very similar way to yours for 2 years now with lots of trial and errors:)) So I am very happy that now I actually have a book to turn to, i don’t have to waste time and ingredients to create something so healthy and delicious. So thank you!

    1. Susan Jane

      You can try soaked apricots instead. I find Crazy Jacks’s brand excellent (if a little pricey, but worth every penny). For the banana bread, try soaked prunes, chopped up. They should caramelise beautifully in the heat of the oven. Good luck!

  2. Fiona

    Hi Susan, I’ve just received what looks like a fabulous receipe from you for flapjacks. However, my daughter has an intoleranceto wheat and oats…can you suggest an alternative? I’d be most grateful, thank you ,

    1. Susan Jane

      Hi Fiona. There’s no wheat in the recipe, but you could replace the oats with gluten-free oats. It sounds like your daughter is avoiding gluten? Otherwise, I’ll be uploading a flapjack recipe using quinoa flakes that I published in The Sunday Independent last July. Unfortunately, quinoa has doubled in price since early Feb. I’m waiting for the price to return to normal, after the shortage ceases. Hope this helps! Best wishes from Dublin, SJ

      1. Sinead Roche

        I came across this recipe in the Sunday Indo a few weeks back and discovered a box of lovely medjool dates from a halal store that I’d received as an Xmas gift. I didn’t have to go shopping for one ingredient as I had the coconut oil already thanks to my use of it in I made it there and then. I have used this many times already to rave reviews. For a gluten free version I use Juvela’s oatmeal which I get in Dunnes Stores regularly, and recently it was on special offer so I stocked up. There’s no discernible texture difference for me between Juvela oats and Bunalun’s porridge oats. As a teacher I’ve even passed the recipe onto the children I teach after they were curious to know what they tasted like one break-time when they saw me pull some out of greaseproof paper..I try to do my bit for health education informally too as I see obesity and sedentary levels rising in front of me daily! Its all about re-educating our palate (and growing our own herbs for regular use!) as adults and children alike and weaning ourselves off sugar altogether and getting back to the basics. Aren’t we challenged enough as a nation generally combined with the various hereditary conditions particular to our climate?? Arthritis, immune dysfunction, fibromyalgia, cerebral palsy, multiple scelerosis, etc etc. The blueprint is in our diet and how we choose to live. So many thanks Susan Jane.

        1. Susan Jane

          Sinead, what a fabulous email to receive thank you! It makes me so incredibly happy to picture you enjoying these flapjacks, and navigating the supermarket shelves for the good stuff! You’ve certainly made my day. xx

    1. Susan Jane

      Hi Colette, I reckon oat flour should work in the banana bread in place of rye, although it might be a little heavy. You could try brown rice flour along with the coconut flour? Or quinoa flour? Spelt (wheat) works too. Any of this useful? SJ

  3. Martha

    Hello Susan Jane, I am completely fascinated by your ingredients and recipes. As someone suffering for way too long with near-permanent mouth ulcers and a headache, I’m ready to give this a bash. Just tell me… What measurement is ‘a cup’?

  4. Petreawalsh

    Hi SUsan,I just made the applesauce and cinnamon cookies from your book ,so gorgeous,how long would they keep or would they freeze ok Im having a great time trying the recipes everthing is so good   

    1. Susan Jane

      Hello Petrea. In truth, I don’t think these will keep well (anything with applesauce doesn’t tend to age well). You could try freezing a few, but I bet you’ll have them devoured in 24 hours anyway 😉 Thanks for trying them out! SJ

  5. Mairéad

    Made these today! Seriously yummy! But I used greaseproof paper by mistake and they stuck. Almost took me as long to get the paper off as it did to bake them. A lesson learned though, use parchment paper in future 🙂

    1. Susan Jane

      p.s. I noticed you mentioned your father having diabetes. I wouldn’t recommend this recipe, as it is high in natural sugars from the dried fruit content. Sorry! Hope this is useful to you.

  6. Katie

    Thank you for posting such wonderful recipes and blog posts.  I tried this recipe and it is fantastic.  I was very interested to read about your health history recently – my child had ongoing respiratory problems and after two years of constant gp visits and antibiotics, we went to a nutritional therapist.  We made some minor dietary changes and we haven’t looked back since.  The impact of food on our health (even so called healthy food) is very significant and it would be hugely beneficial if the government and medical profession would place more emphasis on this.  Well done on getting the message out there:-) 

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  8. Claire

    These flapjacks are amazing!!!!! bought your book and make these every week as there is high demand ( well more like robbing from my fridge!!) from the family!!! So tasty and healthy!! Love them! Thank you Susan 🙂

  9. Joanne

    Hi Susan Jane,

    Made these to snack on for breastfeeding. Invaluable for energy during the night/early morning feeds and also addictive!

    Also, your PMT Brownies (the ones with creamed coconut) are delicious & satisfied those chocolate cravings during my pregnancy nicely! So healthy!

    Looking forward to using your recipes when my little one is a toddler. 

    Thanks 😉

    1. Susan Jane

      Thanks for dropping by! Am working on a special volume for toddlers and children, nut free but not dairy free. Very excited. Hope it finds your kitchen. Love and peas, SJW

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    1. Susan Jane

      Hi there! You could try figs? Or chopped raisins. Equally as gooey. Apricots work too, but not the orange ones (go for the unsuplphured ones as they taste way better). Hope this helps! SJ

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