Newton’s third law states that for every action there is an equal and opposite reaction. No, I have not made a New Year’s resolution to become a physicist. I tried physics in high school and it was NOT one of my stronger subjects. Definitely not. But stretching things just a bit, I think this third law can be seen being applied in many homes at this point in time as we swing from the decadence and laxness of the holiday period back to the routines and healthier eating regimes of “normal” life. Especially in January, people seem to go over the top cleaning and clearing and sorting and eating REALLY healthily. Ok, it’s a delayed reaction, but it’s certainly happening in this house.
When you spend most of your life living according to a schedule (daily, weekly, or whatever), accomplishing one thing so you can move onto the next… and the next, planning your time so everyone is where they need to be when they need to be (more or less), it’s nice to be able to drop all that for a while and just do whatever. Live with very few rules. Stay in pajamas till noon, or all day if you feel like it. Have not just one, but two cups of tea in bed in the mornings (yes, we live on the edge!), top off breakfast with a cookie or two, watch as much tv as the system can cope with, attempt to get out of the house only because we want to (not because we need to be somewhere).
That’s how we try to spend at least some of our Christmas holidays and I would say that this year we succeeded! Even the Christmas meal came together fairly last minute and was a lovely relaxed affair (which I would highly recommend). For a few weeks the kids thought they’d died and gone to heaven. Chunks of walls of the gingerbread house became a perfectly acceptable breakfast item, accompanied by hot chocolate of course. We pretended we didn’t notice when small fingers grabbed chocolates or sweets and quietly pocketed them. We still attempted to get fruit and veg into them, but not with any sort of real conviction.
But now the holidays are over and although I’m not quite ready for it yet, it’s time to return to the everyday, the routine. School, sports, clubs, meetings, work, and the occasional attempt at a social life. Less sleep. And with the return to the everyday I feel the need to cleanse – sort and clean the house, get rid of the tree, and remove all traces of anything resembling Christmas food from the fridge. It’s definitely time to return to a more balanced eating regime. It’s that equal and opposite reaction kicking in with a vengeance.
I made these “power bars” yesterday. They’re full of dried fruit and berries, nuts, seeds, and sweetened only with honey & pureed apricots. Seriously moist, seriously tasty, seriously healthy. The man loves them and his only complaint about them is that I don’t make them often enough. One of these along with a fruit smoothie makes a perfect quick breakfast for a certain 8 year old who likes to hibernate in bed as long as possible in the mornings. And the girl, well, she just thinks the shiny red and blue berries look pretty as she daintily picks them out one by one and eats them.
These are quick and easy to make and so tasty that it doesn’t really feel like you’re depriving yourself of anything when you eat one (or two). And if like us you’re back in rushing around mode, then you need look no further for a quick breakfast or snack on the run.
Happy New Year!
A combination of a few recipes from November 2005 Delicious Magazine.
- 250g dried apricots or prunes (or a combination of both)
- 170g unsalted butter
- 170g honey (set honey works best)
- 350g quick cooking oats
- 150g assorted nuts – any combination of walnuts, cashews, almonds, pecans, pistachios
- 150g assorted dried fruit or berries - a combination of raisins, sultanas, dried cranberries, dried cherries, dried blueberries, chopped dried apricots or figs
- 150g assorted seeds – a combination of sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds, linseeds, sesame seeds
Cover the apricots and/or prunes with boiling water and soak until soft (1-2 hours).
Preheat oven to 170 degrees Celsius/350 degrees Farenheit. Line a swiss roll tin (a cookie sheet with sides) with greaseproof paper – the tin I use is about 23cmx33cm (9×13 inches).
In a large saucepan melt the butter and honey over medium heat until just melted. While that’s happening, in a food processor or blender whizz the soaked apricots/prunes and some of the soaking liquid to a thick paste. Stir it into the butter/honey mixture until well combined.
I always whizz the oats, nuts and seeds in the food processor to break them down a bit and make it easier for small mouths to process. If you want a chunkier texture you can skip this step, but suggest chopping the nuts up a bit.
Add the oats, nuts, seeds and dried fruit to the butter/honey/apricot mixture. Mix until well combined then tip out into the lined pan. Spread the mixture out so it’s fairly even on top, and smooth it out.
Bake for 25 minutes – it should be a nice golden brown on top. Remove from oven and immediately cut into 24 bars or squares with a sharp knife. Leave in pan to cool completely. When cool, remove from pan and store in an airtight container.
These keep at room temperature for a week, refrigerated for 2 weeks, or frozen for a few months.