Self-checkouts are all the rage these days in grocery stores near me, and I always wonder how they manage to prevent major loss this way since
it is would be so easy to bag two things at once, or just skip the bagging process altogether and walk on out with your belongings. The attendants never look particularly attendant, and often get called away at the exactly the moment you need them anyway. But there’s something appealing about the ability to play cashier for real, and to get a chance to make up for all the inefficient cashiers I’ve ever grumbled about in my life.
I use them anytime I have only an item or two, nothing that needs weighing, and no kids with me who all want a turn – which is to say, practically never.
Last week, though, this amazing trifecta of circumstances converged, and there I was, at 10:30 at night, picking up milk and on-sale cake mix, as one does at such an hour. Time to use the self-checkout!
I couldn’t help but notice, as I revelled in the cheery beep-boop of the real-life scanner, that the man next to me was struggling. I glanced over at him and his single, conspicuous item. He was clearly in a hurry, he clearly wanted to be surreptitious, but that extremely jumbo pack of women’s feminine napkins was not cooperating. As he got more flustered and the bagging area failed to recognize his purchase as the proper weight, his machine inevitably blared out, “HELP IS ON THE WAY!” and the poor blushing man might as well have gone through a regular aisle to do his wife’s bidding.
I’m not normally one to laugh at the misfortune of others, unless that misfortune happens to include gracelessly falling downstairs because few things look funnier than that. But I couldn’t help but smile at him – at least he stuck to his need and didn’t get distracted by the on-sale cake mix, or try to hide the package amidst a load of uneccessary chips, ice cream and cough candies. I admire that.
You know what else I admire? Vegetarians who stick to their guns. I don’t particularly care why any individual is vegetarian, but if they’re willing to make that choice and learn enough about food that they’re still eating a balanced, healthy diet, there’s something to be said for that. When it’s a 2-year-old and 4-year-old, however, who can’t do that research on their own, who can’t, in fact, even make informed choices about whether or not toilet paper is a necessity, something needs to be done.
So, to the internets. Protein and iron are my main concerns in my mini-vegetarians, especially for the one who also balks at eggs and cheese. Fortunately they love nuts excessively, but the choking hazard makes me nervous about letting them eat unsupervised, since one surprise tackle could end in a securely lodged throat-peanut. Call me paranoid, but I’m just gonna make some snacking bars and save myself some stress. Protein, iron, fiber, and a chocolatey package make the world go ’round, or something.
These granola bar-esque snacks were a surprise hit! I expected them to be mediocre and saved for the kids when they complained of hunger before bed or between snacks or other inopportune eating times. Instead, we all loved them and I had to buy more dates just to make them again.
Making them again, I was worried that they had only tasted so good the first time because my expectations were set to health-food-snacks (read: low), but nope, they proved a hit once again, so they got their photo shoot moment of fame.
These tasty no-bake treats held together beautifully and the cocoa effectively masks the taste of the dates and just lets their natural sweetness do its work. I’ve made several “date-sweetened” treats that, let’s face it, just taste like dates, so these were a very pleasant surprise. Adding the crispy rice cereal gave them just the right texture to take away any fruit-leather comparisons, and the peanut butter can easily be substituted for any of your favourite nut butters. I just bought an Almond Cashew butter I can’t wait to try.
If you have a food processor these come together in about 5 minutes flat, and they keep in the fridge for a good week. If you don’t have a food processor…well, I’m not sure how you’d make these, unless you have a good blender perhaps? Let me know if you try that route :) To healthy snacks!
- 1 cup rolled oats
- 1 cup pitted dates
- 3½ tbsp cocoa powder
- 3 tbsp honey or maple syrup
- ¼-1/2 tsp salt (adjust to taste - depends whether your nut butter is salted or unsalted)
- ½ cup peanut butter or another nut butter
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- ¾ cup regular or gluten free Rice Krispies + 2 Tbsp for topping
- Line an 8-inch x 8-inch baking dish with parchment paper, or grease lightly.
- In a large food processor, process oats until crumbly. Add dates and process until breaking down into smallish pieces (about 30 seconds). Add the cocoa powder, honey, salt, peanut butter and vanilla. Puree until mixture becomes uniform and sticky.
- Add brown rice cereal and pulse through to disperse evenly. The mixture should form some balls in the processor.
- Transfer mix to prepared pan and press down evenly (this is easiest with slightly damp hands or spray the back of a spatula with cooking spray and use that).
- Sprinkle on remaining cereal and press in. Makes 16 squares or 10-12 bars. Store in the fridge or at cool room temperature.
If making these gluten free, ensure you have certified gluten free oats.
Adapted from Dreena Burton via Today’s Parent.