Anybody Looking for a Date?

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.

34 responses

  1. I love it! They sound wonderful and my food processor arrives next week, so I can more easily try them…. animal shapes and all 🙂
    I confess that the last batch of brownie bites I made included a few rolled in powdered sugar instead of coconut for the boy to enjoy… and he did! Still better than icing and sprinkles.
    Love the memories of Barnum’s animal crackers – I thought it was pretty grand to swing the box like a little purse.

  2. I have really cut back on sugar lately and am experiencing not so pleasant headaches. I didn’t think I ate too much sugar, but apparently I was eating more than I realized if I am having withdrawal symptoms! I really am not having any cravings so far though – I have not had any issues staying away. I will have to try some of your recipes when I do get cravings!

  3. I have been revelling in all things dates here on Serendipity Farm…date paste is my new go to “sugar”…I suffer from your affliction and my savoury salty bones tend to lure me onto the path of destruction occasionally but not much. Nothing like a good well cooked chip (fry?) to make me have to exercise my inner “NO!” ;). Cheers for this recipe. My kids are all adults of their own now and so my interjection of “eat less sugar!” would be met with derision and “Pffft!…we can do what we damned well please Ma!” 😉 I guess it’s my own health that I am happily embracing with these delicious little morsels 🙂

    • Now I want fries… 😉 Let us know if you give them a try, and you can always force them on your kids when you see them (Yeah, I know, I can barely force mine and they’re here and quite dependent). Enjoy!

  4. Wow I’ve never made nor eaten such a thing before. Sounds yummy! Thanks so much for sharing this and your other posts with my NO RULES Weekend Blog Party :))


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  6. A little reminiscent of a Clif bar (my sister was just raving about how they’re her favorite)…except homemade, and more straightforward. I love the concept. I’m looking forward to trying them out. Thank you for sharing!

    I still gaze longingly at boxed animal crackers (the circus ones). We give animal crackers to our goats for treats and bribes…kinda ironic to give an animal an animal cracker. (= Had to smile at your children’s culinary introduction to education…

    • I have very fond memories of those animal crackers as well, but sometimes I think I’d be just as happy if I could just have one more of the boxes with the handle. 😉 Your goats must have LOVED them, and hey, we all know goats will eat anything – apparently this includes lions.

  7. Pingback: Gluten-Free and Allergy-Free Wednesdays Blog Hop

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