I confess: I sometimes go off on weird food tangents. Two weeks ago I attended a nutrition class presented by a naturopath – she had lots of good suggestions to put a new twist on “lunch” type foods – ie. use egg roll wrappers or rice wrappers to put sandwich stuff in; lower-gluten options; higher-fiber home made energy bars and muffins etc. (Note: because of our egg allergies I can’t use egg roll wrappers but I’ve substituted phyllo dough before with good success). I generally don’t do alot of sweet stuff, but it is nice for a treat and since we’re under some stress right now – DH is unemployed, looking for a job – I tend to indulge a bit more. Apparently raw cane sugar is better for you than sugar (not that sugar is that good for you!) and molasses (blackstrap molasses) is another really good option – lots of iron and other good stuff. Hence my experiments were inspired.
Now, the original recipe from which I improvised is a classic in my family, from my aunt’s school when she was growing up. It is so easy and delicious – great when you need a caramel kind of fix – and home made so you know what’s in it! Here’s the original:
Rolled Oat Squares
½ c melted butter
1 c brown sugar
1 tsp vanilla
2 c rolled oats
1 tsp baking powder
1. Mix butter, sugar and vanilla well.
2. Add rolled oats and baking powder.
3. Pat down in square pan (good to line it so it’s easy to get out afterwards)
4. Bake 25 min in a 350oF oven, or until it’s golden brown.
Now the first twist – I used melted butter, 1/2 sugar and 1/2 molasses, baking powder and vanilla. Then I mixed in some Kamut Puffs (I have the Nature’s Path ones), patted it into a lined cake tin, and baked it in the oven. It didn’t take very long – maybe 10-15 min. WOW it was delicious! The puffs got all crunchy so it was a bit like home made caramel popcorn, except without the bother of popping hte corn (or if you’re allergic to corn, this is a good option). For gluten-free people, maybe rice puffs or millet puffs would work? For those who are not allergic to nuts, as we are, I bet some nuts tossed in there would make a great, easy cracker jack sort of snack.
The other version I tried wasn’t as good – I put 1/4 c cocoa, 1/4 c milk, sugar & molasses to about 1/2 cup, and 1/4 c butter in a saucepan on the stove, and heated to boiling while stirring. Then I added vanilla and poured in kamut puffs and shredded coconut. I found it didn’t get crunchy, and it was too sweet for me. This could be because I was eyeballing my ingredients though. DH liked the chocolate and coconut flavours in here, so I may try amalgamating it into my first experiment!
Now I haven’t gone hard-core and used the blackstrap molasses, which is the best stuff nutritionally. The fancy molasses is what I had on hand. But perhaps we can get used to the flavour with the fancy brand and move into the blackstrap.
I hope this may be of use to someone out there – someone who isn’t trying to cut their calories, that is!