This post was supposed to be titled “I Made Three Different Snacks That My Kids Love & Now I Won Life & Never Have To Buy Packaged Snacks Again.” Or my version of that anyway. I had two weeks to do it, but somehow only got to one snack, and failed at even properly making it or shooting it for the blog. I would say I have no idea where the hours, days, or weeks have gone, but I do:
It’s working, writing, listening to Brian try to homeschool, then putting my headphones on so I can’t hear (only to feel guilty about that), then cooking, DOING SO MANY DISHES, spending hours cleaning each day, trying to shoot fun content together (which really is fun), relieving Brian so he doesn’t purposefully poison himself just for a chance to lay in bed sans children, then of course playing with them (A LOT tbh – which is I love), and so many hours spent cooking of the actual meals that my intended snacks got neglected.
Also, I’ve been practicing my run-on sentences and not giving enough editing time for people to even fix it. The only real free time I have is after the kids go to bed, IF I don’t pass out with them which I usually do, and taking photos or videos in the dark isn’t pretty (which you’ll see proof of below). So . . . that’s where we are right now. Just doing our best and taking blurry photos of failed snack bars that I didn’t even invent, and calling it a blog post. Welcome to 2020 🙂
There is a theme song the kids sing all day long, morning til night, in a whiney voice with no rhythm or cadence. It goes like this: “Can I have a bar? Can I have a snack? May I please have a snack? Mama, can I have a snack? Can I have a snack, please? Not that snack, I want a bar. Can I have a bar? Not that bar, the sweet and salty bar? Can I have a snack? Not a cutie, I want a bar, can I have a bar?” Just all day every single day. For those of you who don’t have kids, “bars” are granola bars and packaged snacks are really all they want, which is understandable and yet highly annoying (and expensive). We are obviously not anti-bar up here, just sick of A.) buying the garbage ones that are basically candy bars and full of processed everything, or B.) buying the really healthy but expensive ones that they go through so fast. Of course, after buying all the most expensive organic ingredients myself, I now fully understand why they are so expensive, HA. But I still attempted my own bars (based on a recipe, duh).
That’s not my annoyed face, I promise – I actually think I was trying to look sweet, like a proverbial “oops” on my face. I’ve been flying through the recipes in Sarah Adler’s books (mostly for my meals) and while I’m sure there are a ton of good cookbooks out there, I love hers because they do feel simple, easy, healthy, full of fresh ingredients, light and delicious – but complicated enough that I feel like I’m being challenged and learning something new. Now that I think of it, most of the recipes are dairy-free and gluten-free, so if you are into that (Brian and I are) they are good ones.
I put the kids down, opened up my laptop to watch Little Fires Everywhere (guys, it’s SO GOOD), poured a large glass of wine, and attempted my first “bar.” You basically just take a ton of nuts, seeds, and dried fruits and throw it in a bowl with coconut flakes, honey, and vanilla. Mix together and spread on a parchment-lined pan, then put in the freezer. Should be easy.
That photo above? Yea, that’s how the bars were supposed to look, in the book, but mine was a big sticky mess that I couldn’t peel off my fingers and definitely couldn’t be cut up into any sort of adorable “bar.”
We ate it with a spoon and it was DELICIOUS, but now what? And why didn’t they work? The only reason I could come up with was that I didn’t have unsweetened coconut flakes, only sweetened, and maybe that added sugar threw off the balance and made them stickier? I have no idea, I’m no scientist. It basically seemed like the MOST expensive ice cream topper ever. We sprinkled it over the kid’s yogurt and they loved it – It’s just sugary nuts and seeds (and the added vanilla and sea salt make it taste really good).
Then Brian had the idea to make them into balls and bake them. Maybe some heat would make them more solid? I turned the oven up to 400 (don’t know why, “far too high” Brian said later) and I used an ice cream scoop to plop them messily onto a parchment-lined baking sheet. I left them in for way too long, brought them out and they were STILL super crumbly and sticky, and now burnt. I gave up without even thinking.
PLOT TWIST – After they had cooled they hardened (duh), and while they were “burnt” as Charlie aptly put it, I had real hope for batch #2. I set the oven to 325 this time and left it in for just 15 minutes – just enough to warm and toast to a golden brown.
After I brought them out, and let round #2 cool off they were delicious. A success even! After an hour of hardening, I could put them in a bag and they became “the bar” that weekend for all of us. I found myself eating them and they felt relatively guilt-free.Print
Vanilla Apricot Granola Bars
This recipe is adapted from Simply Real Health : )
2 cups cashews
1 cup walnuts
1 cup dried apricots
1 cup large coconut flakes
½ cup pumpkin seeds
½ cup dried cranberries
½ cup honey
2 teaspoons vanilla
½ teaspoon sea salt
- Melt honey (either in your microwave or on the stove).
- Chop the cashews, walnuts, pumpkin seeds and apricots (corse chop is ok – just imagine what texture you’d like in your “bar”).
- Add all of the ingredients to a mixing bowl and mix well with a silicone spatula.
- Add mixture to a medium sized parchment lined square baking dish and press down evenly with the back of the spatula.
- Freeze for at least 1 hour, then remove to cut into bars. Store in the fridge until ready to eat.
- OPTION TO BAKE BARS – This is why I put my own twist on the bars. Preheat your oven to 325˚.
- Instead of cutting into bars, use an ice cream scoop to create “balls” and place on a parchment lined cookie sheet.
- Bake for 15 minutes, then let cool.
- Store in an air tight container, like tupperware or ziplock – moisture is the enemy 🙂
I actually really enjoyed trying something new that was easy, despite the emotional journey that these granola bars sent me on. My kids and I are going to make another batch because now that I know how to make them. And we’ll do the other two snacks – “pink hummus” that Birdie is dying to try, and some chocolate energy balls which I imagine will be a hit. Literally anything to shake up life, do something together and eat SO MANY SNACKS.