Saturday, January 7, 2012

Homemade Date Snack Bars (better than LARAbar)

When it comes to snack bars, my kids aren't crazy about most of them. This is actually fine with me, since most snack bars in my eyes have very little redeeming value in the way of nutrition versus sugar content. It is however a convenient thing to have on hand from time to time. We have gone through the gamut of them: Clif, Kashi, Atkins (super-icky), various cereal brand bars. None have been winners, until we tried LARAbars. They are made from a base of dates and nuts. Some flavors have dried fruit added. And of course, they are a little on the spendy side. So when I noticed a link to a recipe for raw date bar on my profile, I had to give it a try. The ingredients and directions can be found here:
Date Raw Energy Bars.

They are delicious and easy. Everything takes a whirl in the food processor, then you press into a 9x13 baking sheet, and chill. You can cut them to whatever length works best for the size of your kid's appetite.
I have also found that you can substitute different types of nuts or seeds for the almonds or cashews.
I haven't tried yet to add dried fruit. And I add 1/2 cup water instead of just 3 tablespoons, making the bars a little softer, but also easier to chew.

I like Bob's Red Mill Date Crumbles. I've found there is no chance of pits that way. A pit in your food processor ..ugh.
I also often do half the amount of almonds and add in the remainder as sunflower seeds. 

This is the consistency with just the 3 tablespoons water. A little crumbly.

With 1/2 cup water, the 'dough' holds together and is easier to mold into the baking sheet. 

I line my baking sheet with wax paper before putting the 'dough' in. It makes it easy to turn the pan upside down after chilling to remove and slice into bar size. After pressing the dough into the pan using my hands, I put plastic wrap across it, and use my fondant roller to even out the thickness.
Date bar after chilling and slicing

H stealing and eating my date bar. :)

Multigrain Waffles

The latest favorite breakfast food for E is waffles. It's become so popular that I got my hubby a fancy (but inexpensive) waffle electric iron for Christmas since he is usually the one usually cooking them. The instructions came with several recipes. We like the one below the best. It incorporates whole wheat flour and oats for a delicious and healthier version of your basic waffle. We serve ours plain with a scant drizzle of syrup.

Multigrain Waffles
(Makes about 4 regular waffles, and 1 mini)
1 cup all purpose flour
3/4 cup whole wheat flour
1/2 cup quick cooking oats
1 tablespoon brown sugar
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 cups milk (works with So Delicious alternative dairy beverage)
2 eggs
2 tablespoons vegetable oil


  1. Combine flours, oats, brown sugar, baking powder, and salt in large bowl.
  2. Whisk milks, eggs, and oil in a medium bowl. (I am pretty sure my hubby skips this and dumps everything in one bowl and whisks together. They still turn out great).
  3. Whisk milk mixture into dry ingredients just until dry ingredients are thoroughly moistened. A few lumps are OK!
  4. Allow batter to rest for 5 minutes.
  5. Preheat your waffle iron (electric or otherwise).
  6. Pour scant 1 cup batter in center of waffle iron. Close top and cook according to your iron's instructions. For our Presto, it says to cook about 3 minutes. For our stove top iron, it can take up to 5 minutes over medium heat.

Friday, January 6, 2012

Terrence the Turkey

This last month was not usual. E knew school was letting out for winter break, which meant a change in routine. And our routine was pretty loose. Being back at work means day care over school breaks, and I can't control or predict the exact activity at the exact time. And if you have an autistic child, you know that can be disturbing to the system. While E has improved quite a bit in her flexibility, there is still increased whining, less cooperation, increased anxiety, and a higher resistance to new things, especially food. Generally, E is really not into food at all. She knows it gets cooked, she knows she needs to eat it, she has started to understand that not all foods are healthy. At these times of change, I think she would almost prefer to skip it altogether. 

And when it comes to being a mommy's helper, she would rather assist with laundry, or with pointing out cobwebs I missed when vacuuming. And if she can get out of assisting me at all, she loves burying her head in books about birds. This obsession of hers started when she was about 18 months old. She was into penguins and only penguins. She could watch March of the Penguins over and over. This is one of the earlier signs that I wondered about at the time - how often does a toddler have the focus to sit and watch an animal documentary 4 times in a row. Yes, I tested it one day. She fell asleep on the fourth time. That obsession has at least expanded to the overall topic of birds, with a focus on parrots, penguins, and pigeons. 

I am lucky to occasionally have the opportunity to test recipes for America's Test Kitchen/Cook's Illustrated. Basically, anyone can sign up to do it on their website, but I guess you have to get lucky and be drawn. I've been doing it for almost 6 months now, and there is no pay in it except perhaps a little pride that they keep sending me more recipes to test. The most recent one was for grilled turkey. The process spelled out in the recipe (which I am not allowed to print before they have) was interesting, but what was most fascinating is the interest on E's part. She saw it laying there in the pan as I read the recipe, and asked what kind of bird it was, was it dead, and why were its feather gone? I explained it was a turkey, and it was indeed dead (this is also a current topic she is obsessed with), and its feathers were gone because it was going to be cooked and eaten. She then gave me that squinty eyed look she does when she is memorizing and "filing" information. I could tell "turkey" had been filed at some point under "Thanksgiving" because she did her rote speech about Thanksgiving and turkeys. Then she clicked back into real life and this conversation ensued:
E: Why didn't I have turkey at Thanksgiving?
Me: You said you didn't want it.
E: I didn't know it would be dead. You didn't tell me that. I certainly didn't want to eat a living turkey with feathers! 
Me: Well, I only cook and eat dead turkeys without feathers. Would you like a piece of this after it's done? 
E: Will it go back to living at all if it is cooked? 
Me: No. 
E: Okay, I'll try a piece. But only if you know it won't be back alive......can I give it a name?
Me: Will you still eat it if it has a name?
E: I'll name it Terrence the dead turkey. Then I know I can eat it. 

Now that last part made no sense to me, as some of her ideas probably never will, but it somehow allows her to cope with trying new things and I have never told her she is silly for it. And she did try it. She then ate 3 bites. And I did a secret happy turkey dance in my heart. 

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