As I continue my journey to get a bit fitter and healthier, shed a few pounds, and generally feel better, I have noticed something that’s actually quite obvious, yet hits you in the face like a hammer. When I eat better, when I move more, so does the whole family! And then comes the Mum guilt that you’ve let them eat badly in the first place!
Its easy to forget sometimes that you are the whole world to your little infants. They live within your set of accepted rules and routines (well mostly they do) and they look to you for guidance and acceptance. This has never been so apparent to me as when I have improved my diet. My children are eating biscuits because those are the snacks that are in the cupboard. My children are eating biscuits because I’ve deemed it ok for them to eat biscuits. My children are eating biscuits because I am eating biscuits.
So what has happened when Mum isn’t eating biscuits all the time? Well there’s no magic spell that suddenly makes them hate sugar, that’s for sure. We’d have all used it years ago if there were! But the frequency of snacks has definitely slowed down, they have tried a lot more things that they otherwise wouldn’t have (always have to try a bit of what Mum and Dad are having) and we are cooking more at home, so they are more involved with making a meal and learning some life skills, something that regular readers of the blog know I love as much as them actually eating the healthy food.
So here’s another thing that’s changed. At the weekend, I try to do a bit of fun baking with the boys. As I’m always baking for work, I worry that they might ‘miss out’ on the whole ‘baking a cake with Mum’ thing, so I make a conscious effort to include one baking session a week. Baking for fun is much different than when they help prepare dinner. Preparing dinner is a necessity, it’s about leaning about ingredients, skills and encouraging them to try to new foods and make meals more approachable, and ultimately be healthy. Baking for fun, however, is all about devouring your sugary treat afterwards!! So I’m determined this weekly bake off won’t stop, I just need to get creative with non sugar packed recipes, that make a healthier treat afterwards that we can all enjoy with a cup of tea!
Out first attempt at healthy snack making was Quinoa, Banana & Peanut Butter Bars. I thought I had heard you could use Quinoa to make a crispy snack bar, so I gave it a google to see if this was in fact a ‘thing’, and to my delight it was! I don’t know if I’m the only one that hadn’t even heard of Quinoa 10 years ago, now we even make it into snack bars! So below is the recipe I invented. Sorry to all UK readers, it’s all measured in cups. Purely because it’s so much easier with the children to get them to fill up a cup and tip it in than it is to operate scales!
1 cup oats
1/2 cup uncooked Quinoa
1/3 cup almonds flaked
1/4 cup chia seeds
3/4 cup diced dates
1.5 tsp ground cinnnamon
2 large or 3 small ripe bananas
2 tbsp peanut butter (I use meridian as it only has peanuts in it!)
1.5 tbsp honey
1 tbsp agave nectar
35g dark chocolate (I use 85% cocoa)
How we made it tasty:
Tip oats, uncooked Quinoa, nuts, seeds, dried fruit and spices into a bowl and stir to combine.
In a separate bowl, thoroughly mash the bananas.
In a small pan, heat together the peanut butter, honey and agave nectar until completely runny and mixed together.
Combine the dry ingredient with the contents of the pan and the mashed bananas. Leo stir, Arthur stir. Mummy stir just to make sure it is actually stirred!!
Then tip into a small baking tin, lined with greaseproof paper (my tin was about 8inch square) and press down with the back of a spoon.
Bake in a medium (180oC) oven for 15-20 minutes, turning the tin around half way through. When it’s done it should be firm to touch and golden on top. Take it out of the oven and leave to cool in the tin for about 5-10 minutes, then take out of the tin and cut into 12 portions, and leave to cool completely.
When cold, I melted the chocolate in a heatproof bowl above a pan of boiling water (I did this without the children!) and drizzled it all over the top of the bars. Then refrigerate until the chocolate has set. I then wrapped each bar in greaseproof and stored in the fridge, I think they would last about 5 days but they didn’t get the chance.
I’m going to try it again with different combinations of fruit, nuts and seeds, it’s one of those great recipes that you can make totally differently by switching some of the add-ins around. Next time I might try with some crystallised ginger and orange juice too. Or maybe puréed pumpkin and spices. Or maybe cashew and raisin. There’s no escaping it, I love food!
But anyway, we got our baking session in. We made a much healthier snack that the whole family really enjoyed (came to 195 calories per bar, and was really filling). And it’s inspired us to do more of the same next week! I could get used to this healthy transformation thing!