With our respective families 6000 miles apart, one thing Valerian and I have done together a lot is travel. And with two kids added to the mix now, we arm ourselves seriously when we head out to the airport: books, toys, changes of clothes, and of course, snacks. Lots and lots of snacks. When your kids start to get squirrely, sometimes a treat that would normally be off-limits is just what you need to get through the last hours of a 14-hour flight.
Some of the other things we’ve stashed in our carry-ons to amuse the small fry have included a small notebook and the cheapest set of coloring pens I could find; a set of trading cards; a box of band-aids for peeling and sticking at will, as well as other stickers; sets of little animals, preferably packaged in a plastic tube (often putting things in the tube is the best part of these toys); finger puppets; a magnadoodle.
As far as snacks go, I do nod towards healthy stuff like mini carrots, crackers, string cheese, etc. But really, when you’re looking for distraction as much as nutrition, this might be the time to bust out the Dora the Explorer shaped fruit snax, or whatever. The following recipe is a bit of both – I put in plenty of dried fruit and even chocolate chips, but by making it yourself you can avoid the high-fructose corn syrup and artificial colors.
On the go Bars
This recipe is pretty flexible – you could swap in ingredients like whole wheat flour, or add some soy flour for protein, use different fruit, nuts, other seeds, use maple syrup instead of honey, add a little cinnamon or ginger powder, and so on. The mixture needs to hold together when you press it into the pan, so chop larger pieces of fruit or nuts, and add a little more liquid if mixture seems very crumbly. Even pretty small kids can help make it, too – mixing with fingers and patting it into the pan can be a fun activity between rushing around getting your bags packed.
Makes about 36 bars
- 1¾ C/200 g rolled oats
- 1 C/150 g flour
- ¾ tsp baking powder
- ½ tsp salt
- 2/3 C/155 g brown sugar
- 1/3 c/50 g pumpkin seeds
- 1 C/135 g dried fuit (I use apricots, prunes, dried cherries)
- ½ C/100 g chocolate chips or chopped chocolate
- ½ C/118 ml vegetable oil
- 1 Tbs honey
- 2 Tbs water or juice
- Line the bottom of a 9×13″ pan with baking paper or foil to make it easier to remove the bars. Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F (170 C).
- In a large bowl, mix together the first 7 ingredients (the dry ones) with your fingers until everything is evenly distributed. Stir in the oil, honey, and water.
- Dump the mixture into the prepared pan and press it together firmly to form a layer about ½” (1 cm) thick. Bake for 30-35 minutes until lightly browned, then allow to cool in the pan before slicing into bars.