I have come to the realization that I need to cut back on our family’s sugar intake. How did I arrive at this? Well, it was probably a few weeks ago when we were on vacation. The little fella (as we call my three year old son) was getting ready for bed. He stopped midway through brushing his teeth and exclaimed, “But, Maaaaaaama…I didn’t have my treat.” When I explained that we had eaten enough treats that day (ice cream, candies, cookies etc.) a full on tantrum a la “The Exorcist” ensued. I finally got him to settle down and off to sleep (celebrate small victories!). To my dismay, when he awoke the next morning the first thing he asked was, “Mama, can I have my treat NOW?”
Enough, I thought. I am really going to have to cut down on this stuff if I want to have any sanity. Although there is no conclusive evidence that sugar causes hyperactivity or misbehavior in children, I feel that, for my kids anyway, there is a definite psychological effect. Because treats have become part of their routine (i.e. desserts after dinner, rewards for good behavior, markers for special occasions) when my husband or I say “no,” all hell breaks loose. So, instead of becoming the “treat police” (and subsequently losing my mind) or removing them altogether, I decided that I have to get creative and find some tasty, healthy sugar-free alternatives. The philosophy in our home with diet is “everything in moderation.” So, I won’t completely eliminate candy, ice cream etc., but I am determined to make a conscious effort to reduce refined sugars.
I found this quick and simple recipe, which the kids were easily able to help out with. I find if they have a hand in making it, they are really excited to eat it, too! I made a few adaptations (the original recipe was for cookies, but I ended up making them into bars)…So, no sugar for my kids last night! Unfortunately, this did not make bed time any easier than usual. Sigh…
- 1/3 cup peanut butter (if you have peanut allergies, you could use any sugar-free nut butter)
- 2 ripe bananas (overripe is fine)
- 1 tsp vanilla
- 2 tbsp soy milk (I used almond milk)
- 2 tbsp maple syrup
- 2 ½ cups quick cooking or rolled oatmeal (I use the kind with flax in it)
- 2 tsp of chia seed (my addition as its a great source of Omegas)
- 1 cup raisins (could substitute any dried fruit)
- dash cinnamon (optional)
- 1/4 cup flour – I omitted the flour altogether
In a large bowl, mash bananas with a fork until smooth. Add peanut butter, soy milk, vanilla and maple syrup and mix well. Add remaining ingredients and stir until well combined.
Flatten dough out on a rectangular non-stick baking sheet. Bake for 13-16 minutes at 350 degrees. Remove from oven and allow to cool. Cut into squares or rectangles to make bars.
Additional recommendations: I think these would be great with some carob chips or shredded coconut added in!