One of the toughest things about being a parent of an under-5, I’ve come to realise, is that toddlers seem to have a death-wish. I didn’t sign up to be a lifesaver but pretty much all weekend me and the boyfriend have half an eye trained on NewHuman whilst he undertakes various feats of gravity-defying purpose. I mean, it’s kind of cute, especially when he crashes, but his propensity to smash up his face just prior to a significant event (please see weekend before last when he faceplanted whilst on a bus and the whole bus went ‘oooooooh’ and we were on the way to an appointment with a nice school who probably don’t want to admit kids who look like boxers. Or, thinking about it, kids who take buses to school rather than ride in their parents’ giant city 4x4s. However…) means that half an eye needs to be kept.
I find, although I’m not an obsessive, anxiety-driven type person, that when it comes to NewHuman I am motivated to keep any bad things from happening that might ostensibly be my fault at some point in the future when he will no doubt sit me down and go through a very tidy list of complaints about how things have gone. At the moment I’m obsessed about his teeth and wrangle his complaining lips down like those of a dog, scouring for tartar, and making appointments for him with our (remarkably lovely) dentist, Dave. I’m fairly sure that I want NewHuman to go see Dave so that Dave can tell me what a wonderful job we are doing with NH’s teeth but until those musical words drop from Dave’s laconic lips I’ve gone crazy plaque-hunter.
This is all leading up to me wanting to make sure NH doesn’t have blackly rotten teeth. They are lovely and straight and me and the boyfriend have firm, financially-based hopes that his big-kid teeth come through as nicely. In the interim I can enjoy worrying about cavities, totally NH’s fault because fruit is one of his favourite snacks and OMG FRUIT IS SUGAR OH GOD NOTHING BUT KALE MUST PASS HIS LIPS. Luckily I’ve not actually reached that level of hysteria but I know there are neighbourhoods less than a mile from my own where that approach is status quo.
I’ve managed to somehow have NH think that a little handful of sunflower and pumpkin seeds is a big-time treat. This may genuinely be my biggest parenting win to date. So, I thought, I’ll bung those in some kind of muesli bar type thing and call it a snack. I’ll sweeten it with honey and stick it together with peanut butter and hey ho that’s me being all organically amazing! So easy.
Thus, below, is my totally-made up, once-tried bash at muesli bars for kids that aren’t full of refined sugar. They’re obviously full of honey and fruit-based sugar (depending on what fruit you go for) but the other big lesson I’ve learnt on this being-responsible-for-someone-elses’s-wellbeing thing is that the lesser of two evils is usually a great compromise.
These are a hit with NH and actually taste pretty nice. They’re a bit crumbly (OK, maybe quite a lot) but I think that’s cause I insist on cooking them. They’d probably work fine just put in the fridge for a couple of hours to set but I like a toasted muesli bar and I have the dog to collect any crumbs as they fall from NH’s mealy hands.
Put your oven on to about 170C.
2 cups porridge oats (I used porridge ones cause rolled ones are mega big)
About 1 more cup’s worth of any mixture of seeds and fruit you fancy. I usually go for pumpkin, sunflower, sesame and either dried apricot or sultana or sour cherry.
Bout 1/2 cup proper peanut butter – this means no evil unsustainably palm-oiled stuff, mostly, and no added sugar
Bout 1/3 cup honey
Bout 1/3 cup sunflower or other tasteless oil
Oh – below is some of NH’s current fave cereal. Tastes like cardboard. They say it’s got honey in it but a bee must’ve pissed a tiny drop of honey on the factory on its way home one day, there’s no flavour of honey there at all. Anyway it’s crunchy and provides a nice texture so I stick some in. Rice bubbles or actual muesli or whatever would also work. S’up to you. This is a pretty freestyle recipe, yo.
In a little saucepan over a medium heat slosh together the oil, peanut butter and honey and let melt and mix all together.
Whilst that’s happening, into a bowl shovel the oats, fruit, cereal and seeds and mix around a bit. Metal spoons are easy for this.
Below is the gloopy peanut butter, honey and oil mix. Urgh. It looks rather like what I imagine a polluted mountain stream in hardcore mining territory in middle America to look like. Possibly marginally less flammable.
Mix your liquid stuff into your dry stuff. I’d recommend you mix through half the liquid stuff and then use your professional judgement in respect of how much to eventually pour in. Take risks. Pack it into a lightly oiled tray and bung in the oven for about 20 mins or until it gets golden on top. Turn the oven off and leave in there for about another ten mins or so.
NewHuman has deep feelings for stickers and for things with wheels. When the two combine his ecstasy is difficult to be around. And I know it’s been a while since the Dog made an appearance, so here she is, as was last night, looking as full as ennui as you could ever hope. Bless.
Right, take the tin out of the oven and let cool completely before slicing. I then slice it up and individually wrap in clingfilm, then shove in a tupperware, and thus make a minor contribution to the Boyfriend’s sole parenting efforts whilst I have weekly jollies over here in the West of England.