non toxic toddler treat (terrific)
Remember this? I’d rather forget it – the supposed “healthy” fruit bar for babies, with the ingredient list that reminded me of a trashy romance novel (read: pretty long, quite unbelievable not to mention utterly ridiculous).
So here we have it, the much anticipated fruity bar that is approved by both baby (Misty) and Mum (Lou). Boosty stole one – she ate it right up, and seemed to enjoy it – but we won’t value her opinion too highly, as Boosty has been known to eat other dog’s poo. If you’re serious about what you feed your kiddies like me, than you are probably willing to go the extra distance and make these – I’ve tried to explain the steps to the recipe as clearly as possible, but don’t hesitate to contact me if you run into trouble. I’m still getting used to writing down and recording my recipes, so let me know if I typing all crazy-like.
If you don’t have kids (stop booing me and my boring baby food experiments) because I have promised a recipe for those with a slightly more advanced palette at the end of the post. Anyway, these would make a great (and useful) gift for anyone you know with little ones – especially those with food intolerances (and you would look like the bestest and most nutritionally savvy friend EVER).
Friendly Fruit Bars:
These are very allergy friendly: nut, seed, and egg free. Gluten free iF you use certified GF oats. Soy free if you use a milk other than soy to glaze with. Dairy free if you use a non dairy milk and so on.
3/4C + 1T rolled oats
3T apple puree
4-5T dried fruit – either chopped very finely or pulsed in a food processor. I used raisins this time, but a date and apricots mix were great in the first batch.
Milk to glaze (soy/dairy/almond, whatever)
Let the dough rest and chill for at least 1 hour – this give the oats time to soak up some of the moisture and morph into a more workable dough.
Once your dough has rested, give it a good squeeze together. It will seem kind of crusty, but a little knead will bring it back from the darkside. You don’t want the dough too wet, or you won’t be able to roll it; too dry and it will crack and fall apart. It’s all about balance.
Divide the dough in half, and then half again.
Get your little bar-production station set up. I find a damp tea towel underneath a chopping board works to stop the board from moving when you roll. There is a technique with being successful in this endeavour – your enemy is any kind of moisture, once your dough or rolling pin becomes even a tiny bit wet, the dough will start to stick, which will make you angry. I can see you shaking your fist at the computer screen and cursing me now – ‘stupid Lou and her stupid BARS.’ Trust me, it will work, you just have to be a bit clever about it.
Basically you need to roll the dough quickly and firmly. Roll once, putting as much pressure on the pin as possible, pick up the dough, flip it over, and roll again. Keep repeating this, and moving the dough a quarter turn in between flipping it over (in circles). This keeps the dough moving, and the possibility of it sticking and ripping is lessened. It might take a few times to get the knack, but it will happen – it’s good to get used to dealing with doughs, it’s all about the handling.
Each dough ball should get you 2 bars – you can either squish up the trimmings and make another bar, or do what I do, and make it into a little pattie. Chuck it in the oven with the bars, and you have a little oaty cake (yummy with sunflower butter on top!)
Spread 1/2t of your dried fruit mix onto the dough (I put some 3T coconut in with my raisins at the pulsing stage for a bit of texture). Fold over and pinch dough together firmly. Shape with your hands.
You may notice the dough getting a few cracks in it at this stage, don’t stress - breathe – it’s just dough. Get yourself a little bowl with 1/4C milk in it (I used soy, any kind will work). Using your finger tips, dab the bars with the milk. This will seal up the cracks and give the bar a little glaze.
Bake at 200 degrees C on a lined baking tray for 8-10 minutes, depending on your oven. Peek in a few times, and flip the bars to ensure even cooking. Cool on a wire rack. Store in an airtight container (not sure how long they last for, as Misty eats the whole batch in a few days). I keep them in the fridge as it’s pretty humid where we are.
Yes, they look a little like cigars. Yes, that is an ashtray (it has never seen a lit ciggie, so it’s all perfectly innocent). I collect groovy old ashtrays for some reason – they make great little dishes. Is that so wrong? I suppose it’s kind of like these:
I used to LOVE these lollies. I felt so cool. Loser.
Anyway, these bars are intended for babies. I mean that in the sense they contain no added salt, sugar or nasties. So, they aren’t the most flavourful bars I have ever tasted. They taste nice, but I’m not doing the mouth party dance about them. Misty, however, is a big fan - I originally made them with a touch of baking powder, but I took it out, as honestly, they don’t need it. These are soft enough for a gummy wonder to enjoy as well as old man chompers. They also hold their shape – the batch that included baking powder were a bit soft and no match for Misty’s vice-like grip. He has eaten 3 in 20 minutes. Piggy.
If you guys are interested in a recipe that uses the same basic concept (but is super dooper quick and easy, no rolling pins involved) I do have one up my sleeve.
I came up with a muesli bar idea that was pretty popular in a cafe I used to run in Melbourne. It uses the same dough concept as these baby bars, but stacks more flavour and texture (oh, and salt, amazing how much difference a little salt makes) Viper used to call them “Hobbit Food,” as apparently they were so filling and satisfying he reckoned they would be ideal on a lengthy mission into the depths of Mordor. Geek.