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Parenting recipe

Choco-Avo Spread

A crucial ninja skill all parents master at some point is the ability to disguise wholesome foods as something super droolsome. This skill takes plenty of practice and requires copious amounts of patience, and trial and error.

Ciaran slathering on some my super choc avo spread onto Daryl’s homemade sourdough bread.

My husband Daryl and I are pretty enthused food-lovers. We enjoy cooking as much as we love eating and when I first got pregnant, we were super excited to having ‘mini-gourmands’ who would appreciate food. Boy were we in for a sweet surprise (parents, are you nodding along with me?).

As it turns out, toddlers have pretty weird food preferences. Ciaran has gone through several phases now. He had a rice & egg stage, a noodle-phase and now he’s really into mangoes. We are truly tickled at his food requests. We now have plenty of “want chocolate” pleas. I claim responsibility for this – as a chocolate fanatic myself, I have my own chocolate snack stash and toddlers never say no to chocolate. Most of my chocolate treats has way too much sugar for a 3yo so I’ve been diligently seeking out ways to make kid-friendly chocolate snacks that are enticing enough but also healthy at the same time.

This concoction is one of them. I’ve been making this super easy blender-friendly tasty chocolate spread for a while now but usually just for myself. I made it again this week and decided to share it with Ciaran. And it seems like we have another winner.

Super easy and quick to make!

Recipe

Ingredients:

  • 2 large, ripe avocados
  • 1/2 cup maple syrup (or agave)
  • 1/2 cup cocoa powder (I’m partial to Green & Black’s, as the chocolate is more intense)
  • 3 tbsp coconut oil
  • 1/2 tsp balsamic vinegar
  • 1/2 tsp light soy sauce (don’t worry, you won’t taste it, this is to neutralise the avo taste)
  • 1/4 tsp salt

Method:

  1. Blend all ingredients in a food processor (or a blender).
  2. Chill in the refrigerator and enjoy as is or keep in a jar to use as a scrummy chocolate spread like I do. Freeze some, if you don’t forsee finishing it within 3-4 days.
Decadently thick, but also super healthy at the same time – double win.

This can be served as a chocolate mousse substitute if you’ve got vegan family members or friends coming over (well after the pandemic eases up) for dinner. Sometimes, I just dip apple slices in it for a quick afternoon snack.

Quick note about the avocados – make sure they are duly ripe because it’s important to have it creamy and buttery. Semi or unripe avocados will result in stronger ‘grassy’ tasting spread. I learnt from experience. Sharing with you this helpful colour guide I spotted at the supermarket to determine the best time to use your avocados.

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recipe

Easy Breezy Oat Squares

My g0-to fast snack option for the family. Takes less than 15 mins.

Snack bars are my achilles heel. Last month, I counted more than 6 varying types and brands of snack bars bursting through my pantry shelves. Granola, nut, protein, chia seed, wholegrain, and buckwheat bars, just to name a few. My husband Daryl has since banned me from adding to my impressive stash. I am trying to reign my obsession in. I would argue that snack bars are an essential. Fellow mothers reading this, I’m sure you’d nod in unison to all the reasons why snack bars are a must-have (especially with our on-going Covid-19 pandemic)!

  • You can multi-task even if inundated with back-to-back-to-back work conference calls; no time for lunch, no problem, a bar, 3 bites and all the energy to keep going
  • Keeps for longer, which means lesser grocery runs
  • Nutritious! Well most are, depends which ones you get. I like oat-based, wholegrain ones.
  • Great for when I feel peckish and trying not to open that bag of crisps.

But I’m not here to sell you snack bars or fawn all over them. I wanted to share a really great snack bar recipe I found and have been adapting every time I make it. Since I gobble that much snack bars, I might as well make my own and put in all the good stuff.

Pre-sliced oat bar in pan
No-bake oat snack bars, prior to slicing.

These bars are a cinch to make because they do not require you to bake and only involves 5 ingredients (excluding the fixings you decide to add).

Recipe

Ingredients

  • 1 heaping cup packed pitted dates (medjool/deglet noor)*
  • 2 tbsp maple syrup (or agave nectar or honey) 
  • 2 tbsp barley malt syrup*
  • 1/4 cup creamy salted natural peanut butter (or any nut butter really)
  • 1 cup roasted unsalted almonds, coarse chopped
  • 1 1/2 cups rolled oats, toasted (I like to use Bob Red Mill’s Extra Thick Rolled Oats)
  • Cocoa nibs, raisins, cranberries, vanilla, or any other dried fruit etc would make great add-ins.

Method

  1. Process pitted dates in a food processor or blender (I use the latter and it works fine) for about 1-2 mins until it forms a sticky dough-like consistency.
  2.  If your almonds aren’t pre-roasted, toast them at 150°C for 10 mins
  3. Optional: Toast your rolled oats at 180°C for 10-12 mins (it should be a nice toasty golden brown)
  4. Combine rolled oats, almonds and date mixture in a bowl and set aside
  5.  Combine your syrups and peanut butter and warm them up in a small saucepan over low heat. Stir and pour over the oat mixture. 
  6. Use a sturdy spatula to mix thoroughly, until combined. Place in an 8×8-inch baking dish or a small pan lined with plastic wrap or parchment paper so they lift out easily.
  7. Press down firmly until uniformly flattened.  Cover with parchment or plastic wrap, and let firm up in the freezer for 15-20 minutes.
  8. Remove bars from pan and chop into however many bars or squares you want, to size. I prefer small bite-size 1.5 inch squares.
  9. Store them in the freezer so they last longer.

Notes:
*Barley malt syrup is something I just discovered. It is easily available on iHerb and is an unrefined liquid sweetener made from soaked and sprouted barley. Its consistency is similar to molasses and golden syrup. I find that it helps bind these snacks better and I really like the flavour.
 

Tasty morsels filled with oat-goodness.

As a chocolate fiend, I had to resist throwing in chocolate chips into these bars. I wanted it to be healthy so cocoa nibs was a good alternative. It was a double-win actually – bittersweet meets natural gooey sweetness. Utter bliss and without (that much) guilt. I much prefer these bars now, and have indeed been buying less commercial made ones.

My son Ciaran is a huge fan of these snack bars.

Simple and (slightly) effortless, that’s everything you need to know about these bars. Blend, chop, mix, freeze and slice. I usually make them at night so they are nice and sturdy by the next day for my (and my son’s) enjoyment and due sustenance.