School is back in session, and that means it’s time to talk recipes!
Not really. Really, it’s time to talk school supply shopping and shoe shopping and haircuts, but those things are rather unpleasant, and I prefer not to discuss them. Particularly haircuts. And shoe shopping. And school supply shopping. Really, I hate all of those things when they involve small children, MY small children. And everything I do involves my small children in the summertime, but now school is ON, baybee! Which means I’m down one first grader, with a preschooler and a 2-year-old left to go. (Our preschool and Mother’s Day Out don’t start until after Labor Day. Boo. Hiss.)
Oh, and those of you moms who are all, “Oh, I’m so sad because I am going to miss all the lazy days of summer vacation and sleeping in and doing whatever we want and having so much leisure time,” I don’t even know what to say about that because at the point I am in motherhood it just sounds like crazy talk. I have yet to experience this “Lazy Summer Vacation” you are talking about. My kids are all, “Woo, it’s 6:30, up and at ‘em, where’s my pancakes??!!!!!” And then they start fighting and dropping cereal into the cat’s water bowl. Not exactly the lazy days of summer around here.
But during the school year? Here is what I do. I drink coffee in the morning while I read. I clean the house, and nobody uncleans it immediately behind me. I go to the doctor, ALONE. I might even–gasp!–shop for clothing. FOR MYSELF. And nobody crawls underneath the dressing room door while I’m doing it. Two mornings a week for four hours I can do these things, all while the baby is in Mother’s Day Out. I do them very quickly–four hours go by fast!–but I do them. And it’s lovely.
But back to recipes. Let’s talk after school snacks. These two recipes are some of my favorites, and my kids love them. They make great little treats tucked into lunches, as well. I think I’ve shared the granola bar recipe before in this column, but it’s such a good one, it’s worth sharing again. Really, you should make these. People always freak out when I take these granola bars to playdates, and my husband eats them like dessert.
2 cups rolled oats
1 cup whole wheat flour (can use white flour, but they taste great with whole wheat)
1/2 cup wheat germ
1/4 cup ground flax seed
1 egg, beaten
1/2 cup honey
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1 tsp vanilla
3/4 tsp salt
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 cup mini chocolate chips
1/2 cup raisins
1/2 cup dried cranberries
In a large bowl, mix together the oats, flour, wheat germ, flax seed, salt and cinnamon. Add the chocolate chips, raisins and dried cranberries. Create a well in the center of the mixture and pour in the vanilla, egg, honey and oil. Using your hands, mix well. Pat the mixture into a greased 9×13 casserole dish and bake at 350 for about 18 minutes, or until the edges start turning brown. Cool for 5 minutes, then cut into bars. Don’t allow the granola to cool completely, or it will be too hard to cut.
This next recipe sounds kind of strange, but I promise you, it’s really good. These little balls are so fudgy and delicious, you won’t believe they’re good for you. My kids gobble them up.
1 1/3 cup pitted dates
1 cup cashews
3 Tbsp cocoa powder
1/8 tsp salt
1 tsp vanilla
Blend all ingredients together in a food processor, blender, whatever. Food processor is easiest, but I use my Vitamix. (That thing is a stallion.) Roll into small balls. Eat! A warning: the cashews make these things super greasy, but they are absolutely delicious, so it’s worth it. I sometimes roll them in powdered sugar to soak up a little of the grease. If the grease-factor oogs you out, you can sub walnuts for cashews.
(Betsy Swenson can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.)