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.

I’m So Glad You Won’t Eat That

Little Sis and I talk a lot about whether our children like our food discoveries and creations.  It’s important to us to find kid-friendly healthy foods as kids are easier to get along with, have fun with, and most importantly – CONTROL – when they’re not doped out on chemicals and stimulants such as sugar.  Really, I am much happier when I am in control of the little people in the house.  In fact, I’m a little happier when I’m in control of ALL the people in the house but this is a discussion for a therapist, not you long suffering blog-readers who are wondering if I’m ever going to get to the point.  Suffice it to say that one of my favorite lines to my family is, “If you would just do what I tell you, everything would go so smoothly around here.”  Don’t worry, they are not daunted in the least and go on about their business as usual.

During this process of searching for kid-friendly foods one sometimes joyfully discovers something that the little people don’t like.  I am very glad in this case because their ‘No’ is my ‘Go!’

Brownies!  Say it again – Brownies!  Brownies are chewy, fudgy and in my book, usually far too sweet… what’s an adult taste bud to do?  Concoct something from dates, almonds, cocoa, and a wee bit of sugar that looks and smells like a brownie, but tastes much more sophisticated.  I am hooked and not the least bit sorry about it.

I got the recipe from Snack Girl and here it, along with a few pictures, are to tempt you to indulge your adult taste buds.  Slip the kids something you don’t particularly care for and enjoy!

No-Bake Brownie Balls
(15 balls)
1 cup roasted almonds (no salt added)
15 pitted dates
2/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder (plus extra for dusting)
1 tablespoon honey, maple syrup, or agave syrup
2 tablespoons water
confectioner’s sugar (optional) – I used unsweetened coconut instead for rolling

Add almonds to food processor and pulse until ground.

(I used a Vita Mix.  It would be a LOT easier in a food processor.  The first time I made a single batch and I cut the dates into 3rds before adding to Vita Mix to try and help it out.)

Look at those almonds-a-grinding!

Add dates (chopped if using Vita Mix), cocoa powder, honey, and water. Mix until it just forms a sticky mass.

(The second time I made these greed got the best of me – I attempted to make a 1 & 1/2 times recipe and the Vita Mix safety kicked in to keep from burning up the motor and it stopped.  So I removed the mixture a bit early but the next direction in the recipe was the same…)

Wash hands and attempt to make a ball with the dough (it may need a few drops more water to get to the perfect consistency).

Nothing like having tasty gooey stuff all over your hand.  How was I ever going to get it off?   : )

Here is the dough after lots of squeezing, mashing and kneading.

Put a tablespoon of cocoa or confectioner’s sugar (or coconut) on a plate. Roll balls in your hand and then roll in sugar or cocoa (or both).

Eat! These can be stored in the fridge for a week.

For one brownie bite: 109 calories, 6.8 g fat, 12.2 g carbohydrates, 3.6 g protein, 3.5 g fiber, 3 PointsPlus

(My bites were evidently much smaller as I got many more than 15 – so that means I get two, right?)

TaDah!  Truly tasty and children need not force them down – just pass ’em over to me.