When Master W started eating finger food, I discovered the world of expensive and messy kid's snacks. Sure, those little fruit bars that cost almost $1 each from the supermarket are convenient (and I will admit to buying them occasionally when I'm desperate), but what is even in them, anyway? Surely I could make something similar myself?
So I did some research and experimenting and developed this recipe. It's one of my favourites because it's so flexible and serves so many purposes. W and I both have a severe weakness for "cake" (that's anything sweet in W's language), and this satisfies our cravings. Even better, I know exactly what is in it: it's all healthy and all natural. Plus, it is soft (so suitable for littl'nes) and doesn't crumble easily.
I like to have a batch of these in the fridge as often as possible so that I can just grab a bar whenever someone wants a snack. And because there's no added sugar or fat, I don't have to feel bad about giving it to my son or eating it myself (especially when I'm trying to lose my baby belly)!
I'll start with my favourite version, the Hummingbird Fruit & Oat Bars, but I'll put recipes for the other variations at the bottom of the post.
Hummingbird Fruit & Oat Snack Bars (makes 36 bars)
1½ cups quick oats (or rolled oats blitzed in the food processor)
1 cup wholemeal flour
½ tsp baking powder
½ tsp bicarb soda
1 tsp ground cinnamon*
½ tsp ground ginger
½ cup dessicated coconut (optional)
1 whole ripe pineapple, core removed, or 1 tin crushed pineapple in juice
3 ripe bananas, mashed
1 tsp vanilla essence
1 cup dried or frozen berries
1. Preheat oven to 200°C. Grease & line a lamington or slice tray (approx. 20cm x 30cm). Combine dry ingredients in a large bowl.
2. If using fresh pineapple, cut into chunks and place in a food processor. Blitz until it resembles crushed pineapple.
3. Combine pineapple, banana, eggs and vanilla, then add to the dry ingredients. Mix until smooth.
4. Gently stir through the berries, then pour mixture into prepared tray (and let the kids lick the bowl!).
6. Allow to cool in tray before slicing into bars suitable for little hands to hold.
The bars last 5-7 days in the fridge.
*The potency of ground cinnamon will diminish over time, so if it's been in your cupboard for years, you might want to add a bit more. Conversely, if you have ground the cinnamon recently yourself, you may find 1 teaspoon is too much in this recipe.
Apple, Orange & Apricot
Replace the ground ginger with ground nutmeg; replace the banana with 1 cup orange juice (freshly squeezed, if possible); replace the pineapple with 2 whole, unpeeled red apples, cores removed; replace berries with 1 cup chopped dried apricots; and omit the coconut. At step 2, blitz the apples in the food processor until the pieces are around the same size as crushed pineapple.
Zucchini, Carrot & Sultana
This is a great one for getting extra vegetables into your little one! Follow the recipe for the Apple, Orange & Apricot bars, replacing the dried apricots with sultanas and adding 1 grated carrot and 1 small grated zucchini with the wet ingredients.