Oat Nut Fruit Gems

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(Becky, the Mama)

My mother, Ruthie, went from loving her sugary desserts (a la last week’s Honey Slice cookie recipe) to a diet almost completely without sugar a couple of decades ago.  A health crisis with her blood pressure and heart, meant major changes in her daily diet – all for the better.  Out went everything white: sugar, white flour and white rice… and in came the brown and fiber-filled replacements.  But, we are not the sort of women to suffer deprivation in our family.  Being the creative and resourceful cook, Mother found several ways to satisfy her sweet tooth while also getting healthier, sporting an adorably slim figure, and having more energy than women decades younger than she!

This is one of my all-time favorite sweet, healthy, satisfying treats that she baked. She served them in a pretty cloth-lined basket at a family supper and they disappeared in what seemed like minutes. Everyone from kids to adults raved about them.

The basic ingredients are so simple:  oats, mashed bananas and grated apples.  From there you can throw in the kitchen sink:  any nuts, seeds, flavorings or dried fruit that you like.   Another bonus is that you can serve this recipe to most of the people in your family (or friends) on special diets.  The recipe is naturally vegan, and if you use gluten-free oats, it is gluten-free and can easily be adapted to use less sugar or made sugar-free.  Kids not only love them, but as you can see from my little helper below, they also love to help make them.

My grandson Georgie, furiously mashing the bananas with a potato masher.

My grandson Georgie, furiously mashing the bananas with a potato masher.

If you want to create warm memories of baking with little ones this Christmas, but prefer not to send them into a Sugar Orbit in the process: this is the perfect mom and child, or grandma and grandchild project, to whip up together.

The texture is somewhere between a muffin, an oatmeal cookie, trail mix, and baked oatmeal.  Made with sugar they get a nice crunch on the outside but are moist and slighty chewy on the inside.  Perfect for quick breakfasts-to-go, they also make great snacks for school lunch boxes and any outdoor enthusiasts in your family.  Wrapped in foil they are wonderful sources of energy when hiking, camping or snow-boarding.

This recipe makes 2 dozen.   Best stored in fridge and then heated for a few seconds in microwave.

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 Oat Nut Fruit Gems

Preheat Oven to 350 degrees

Ingredients

2 large bananas, mashed (use 3 if bananas are small)

2 large peeled apples, grated (use 3 if apples are small)

3 cups oats (I like Old Fashioned Oats for the chewier texture)

½ t. sea salt

1/3 c. raw organic sugar (or use other sweeteners such as brown sugar or coconut sugar or even  Stevia, according to taste )

½ c. dried chopped fruit (I used dates and dried cranberries. Coconut also works well in this recipe.)

1/2 nuts and/or seeds (I used walnuts and pecans)

2 t. vanilla

 

Directions

Mix all of the above together in a large mixing  bowl.  Spray or oil muffin pans.  Fill them about 2/3 full and gently press down with back of spoon. if you want them to look more muffin-like you can mound them a bit in the middle, as they won’t rise. (No leavening or eggs.)

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Bake for 20 to 30 minutes or until just golden brown around edges and top.

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When cool to touch, gently remove from pan.  If not eaten in a day, store in fridge in a sealed bag or plasticware and zap for a few seconds in microwave to warm.

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Chocolate Avocado Pudding (It tastes just like “real” pudding!)

Avocados for dessert? Yep. The proof is in the pudding.

I think much of my passion for good tasting healthy food comes from my Grannie. For most of my life, she’s been a real health nut. She and I can talk food and health all afternoon. We get excited sharing our latest nutritious food finds. When I was pregnant, she sent me a bar of dark chocolate, a baggie of walnuts, and a box of healthy cookies with instructions to eat a piece of chocolate, a walnut, and a cookie all in one bite for a not-too-bad for you treat that hits the spot. She knows my kind of perfect bite like no one else.

Rumor has it that she wasn’t always this way, though. There are tales from my mom and aunt of rich, sugar-filled, high calorie desserts after almost every meal. I suppose I could see this in Grannie.  She still gets giddy over a delicious dessert. She sent me this recipe (below) and I had to wonder if my Grannie and I are the only two women in our family who can get  this excited about pudding made from avocados, cocoa, and dates? She sold me on the recipe with this adorable email. This is why I love her so!

Hey Babe,

I’ve found a recipe for pudding that calls for no dairy, no milk, and no eggs! And it tastes really good! So, in case you’re hungry for pudding here’s the recipe….

A sprinkle of toasted almonds is nice, and half a maraschino cherry on the top makes it elegant — and how much damage can 1/2 a teeny, sugary cherry do?

I tried a small recipe first. It was yummy, so like Goldilocks visiting the Three Bear’s house, I tried a MUCH BIGGER bowl.

Much love,
Grannie

Isn’t she adorable? And don’t you want a bowl of chocolatey avocados now, too?

Sprinkled with shredded coconut and toasted almonds, it tasted like Almond Joys.

Chocolate Avocado Pudding

Serves 2

Ingredients

2 avocados
1 c.  dates, soaked in water for an hour, then pitted and chopped
2 t. vanilla
3 T. cocoa (up to 5 T. if you like it more chocolatey)
1/2 c. – 1 c. non-dairy milk (I used unsweetened almond milk)
2 t. agave (optional)

Topping options: almonds & shredded coconut for Almond Joy Pudding. Crumbled Oreo cookies & gummy worms for kids Worms in Dirt dessert. Coconut whipped cream and maraschino cherries. Shortbread cookies and raspberries.

Directions

Soak dates for one hour.

In a small food processor bowl (or high power blender), combine avocados, pitted and chopped dates, vanilla and about 1/2 a cup of milk. Blend, adding more milk and scraping down the sides as needed. I did have to stop and scrape several times, but with some patience it eventually got very smooth. Add cocoa a tablespoon at a time until it’s as chocolatey as you like. Taste for sweetness and add agave (or your preferred sweetener) if desired.

Top with your choice of toppings. Serve immediately.

Note: I haven’t tried refrigerating this to store it since there have been no leftovers when I’ve made this yet! My mom has a great method for storing guacamole by putting leftovers in a plastic Ziplock style sandwich bag and pushing as much air out as possible. Since the recipe uses avocados, I think this might be the best way to store it.  Let me know if you make it and have enough leftover to store it!

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