One place I really would love to get lost in is a good supermarket. A good book store would not be a bad idea either. Buying monthly grocery is a family shopping expedition. The kids love to come along and pick up their allowed quota of snacks. While hubby is not totally opposed to the idea of including cookies and the kind in the cart, I can be irritatingly hesitant and stingy here. Of course, I do buy, but a few as lifesavers. I do not like the thought of the kids having easy access to these things or consuming them on a regular basis. By my own admission I am a wicked mom. I really like schools which do not allow junk food to be brought to school except on a certain day of the week. The kids started to eat on their own when they turned two or so. I do not believe in running behind them and feeding them. They need to feed themselves if hungry. If I see a tantrum coming during a meal, I carry on with mine. If they are not 'hungry' as the food on the table isn't appealing enough to them, too bad, they can eat the same thing when they are really hungry later. I do give up and give in sometimes when I don't feel up to it or when me or the kids one of us is unwell. I know, I know, I won't get voted as the Best Fun-to-be-with Mom, but I guess I can live with it.
But then I am human and one with a huge sweet tooth and an insane urge to bake at that. I try to space out my indulgent bakes, a good portion of these (unless its breads) are a good number of times meant to be given away with us consuming a part of it. Along with indulgent baking, am looking out for healthy whole grain bakes too, now more than ever.
I dread surprise guests for two reasons - one is the predictable swept-by-a-tornado look of our place, second - I am extremely poor in stocking up on snacks. I am not proud of this but I am not a very organized person and no snacks on hand sometimes lands me in difficult situations. Specially when I get up late and find no time to dish up something for the snack break at school. Since my kids are sadly not much of fruit eaters, its all the more challenging to provide healthy snacks. And those which can be made ahead and stored are real life savers. I would vote for the home made ones anytime as you would know what has gone into it. And you have the luxury of tweaking it to your taste and preference of sugar and fat too. I was glad I tried the Chocolate Chip Oat Engery Bars from Deeba's gorgeous Passionate About Baking. Great for snacking, healthy too. And offers room for variations. I made them with whole wheat and replaced the egg. The Eggless Chocolate Chip Oat And Whole Wheat Snack Bars are a hit with my kids and am looking forward to make these again.
Recipe adapted from Deeba's recipe here. She has baked these from Megan's blog.
Oil - 1/4 cup
Granulated sugar - 1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons(refer note)
2 tablespoons skim milk
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups old-fashioned oats (I have used Quaker)
Whole wheat flour - 3/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
Cornstarch - 2 tablespoons
Warm water - 2 tablespoons
Dark chocolate- 50gms
Toasted, flaked almonds - a few
Procedure: Grease and line a 7x11x2 inch tin with baking parchment leaving an overhang. I used a smaller 10x 6 tin. Grease again. Pre heat oven to 180 degrees C / 350 degree F.
In a bowl, combine the oats, flour baking soda and chocolate chips.
Combine the cornstarch and the warm water. Keep aside. In a large bowl, combine the oil, milk, sugar and vanilla. Beat on medium speed till the sugar dissolves, for about 2-3 minutes. Add the cornstarch mixture. Mix. Tip the dry ingredients into the wet. Mix till incorporated. The mixture was quite thick. Transfer mixture to the prepared tin. Level with a spatula. I greased my hand to do this, easier!
I baked for about 30 minutes till the top was golden brown. If using a larger tin, you may need less baking time. Remove the tin form the oven. The bars will not feel crisp at this point. Melt the chocolate in a microwave and spread it on top. Allow to cool completely. Lift the parchment out and then cut into fingers or squares.
A note on the sugar: The recipe calls for part brown sugar and part white sugar. I have used only white sugar as I had run out of brown sugar. The reduced sugar works just fine for me, but again I will use even less sugar if there will be a melted chocolate topping. Sans the melted chocolate on top, the above sugar quantity is just right.
Egg replacement: I have used the mixture of 2 tablespoons cornstarch plus 2 tablespoons warm water to replace 1 egg. Tip from Champa .
These will keep well for 1-2 weeks, says Deeba.
Variations: Deeba has used buck wheat flour, oats and some APF, topped the bars with strawberry conserve and finally melted chocolate. I have used only whole wheat flour and oats and topped the bars with melted chocolate and flaked almonds. I have also reduced the sugar as I had only milk chocolate chips on hand. Megan has added unsweetened coconut (which I will do next time!) I will also try using orange juice in place of the milk and add in some orange zest. Next, skip the chocolate chips and vanilla, add plenty of nuts and some cardamom powder? Hmmm... Thanks Deeba!
The bars turned out a little crisp (but not very much so), have texture and taste good too. A great recipe to play around with. An infinitely better replacement to the packaged cereal bars, good breakfast / snack on the go for your kids. Do try this out!
This is just in time for the Tried and Tasted event, featuring Passionate About Baking, hosted at Samayalarai .