At left you see my memory of animal crackers. They came in a cardboard box shaped like a train car. It had a little white string handle that you could use to carry the box. And if I was VERY good at the store, there was a shot I could score a box of my very own. Flash forward approximately eight thousand years….
At a recent school event, the kids were offered a choice of a bag of animal crackers, a bag of animal crackers with icing, and a bag of animal crackers with icing and sprinkles…. in case you’re wondering, both of mine looked at me to see if I would stop them, and then went for the whole freaking hog. The terror I’d been watching on my son’s face at the prospect of joining the big kids next year had completely paralyzed me… and so they ate animal crackers with shapes and sprinkles. We sat down with our future fellow kindergarteners and they downed as many as they could while I checked out the nutrition information. They surrendered their ill-gotten booty gracefully about halfway through the bag, without seeming to have enjoyed them overly much. It was the thrill of the bag and the sprinkles, in my opinion.
While I’ve always enjoyed dessert, I have come to realize that compared to others, my sweet tooth is, in fact, reasonably tame (my salt and fat teeth are different stories). Lately, however, I’ve been overwhelmed by sugar cravings. I don’t understand it really. I’ve not gone on a sugar binge (what usually gets these things going) or purchased a whole bunch of sweet treats to tempt myself into the sugar pit… and yet, I can’t seem to get sweet things out of my head. Having completed their school year, my children are with me much more of the day, and they too, seem to be suffering from sugar deprivation… In order to continue on our current chosen culinary path, it is critical to prevent a sense of continual deprivation And so, I return to my quest to find sweet treats that we can munch on periodically without any appreciable spike (and subsequent crash) in energy and without worsening our current cravings…. I also want to help my kids to appreciate the yum that can be found in simpler treats, without all of the high fructose corn syrup bells and whistles. As usual when I’m seeking healthy culinary inspiration, I turned to my sister.
While we were at the beach, Big Sis shared her awesome brownie bites which my husband and I and we both LOVED them but my children, not so much. Too dark chocolatey tasting. Just didn’t work for them. Knowing they would only serve as an adult decadence, I whipped up a batch of brownie bites for my husband and myself to enjoy (and wow they are SO good), and quickly cleaned out the food processor. I stared at my counter where the ingredients were still strewn and decided to use the brownie bite as a template, and vowed to keep it as simple in taste as possible. Thus was born the Oaty Bite.
Oaty Bites - makes about 15 bites, unless you’d rather have many small bites or a few big honkin’ bites
- 16 dates
- 1T plus 1t maple syrup
- 1T plus 1t water
- 1t vanilla
- 1/4 c hemp seeds (or whatever nut or seed you prefer)
- 1.5 c rolled oats, plus a handful for rolling
In a food processor, combine the dates and the liquids. Process until as smooth as you can get it. Add the hemp (I chose hemp because of the nutritional boost and the relative small size to prevent picky kid rejection) and the oats and process until a ball forms and the mixture is sticky but not too terribly wet to the touch. You should be able to form shapes with it. If it seems to sticky, add some more oats. Form into balls and roll in oats. We prefer ours cool and so keep them in the fridge. There. Voila. Done. No stinkin’ icing. No flipping’ sprinkles. Just simple ingredients with a sweet touch. Perhaps next time I’ll add a little cinnamon and try to shape one like a gorilla. Delish.