‘Travelling breakfasts’ are not easy for my intolerant child. Last summer we stayed in a hotel for a few nights and sorting breakfast was such a challenge. We took our gluten free, dairy free cereals and our own carton of dairy free milk. We didn’t have a fridge in our room, so took kept the milk in a lunch box full of ice packs. It was still fresh on the first morning, but pretty rough by the second day as the ice packs had melted.
We had also taken his special bread, but could only take a tiny amount of the dairy free spread to go in the ice packs with the milk and again by the second day it was no good. If Zac wasn’t so fussy he could have had some of the cooked breakfast but as the sausages were almost certainly not gluten free and the cross contamination risk was high, he just ‘hit the fruit bar’ quite hard and had fruit salad every morning with a pot of ‘dry cereal’ and some dry bread. He didn’t seem to mind, but I felt sorry for him and that is when I decided I should try and make a cereal bar, just for occasions like these.
I know there are some readily available in the ‘free from’ sections of the supermarkets but they are quite expensive and rather sugar laden so I decided to see if I could make a cereal bar that is hopefully more healthy, economical and delicious.
This recipe is a cross between the granola/flapjack and my chocolate refrigerator cake. The ingredients are almost identical to the granola, but you don’t bake it – you put it in the fridge. It is super quick to make and although at first glance you might think it is not the healthiest breakfast, the key ingredients are actually very good and do have some nutritional value.
Everyone knows about the health benefit of (gluten free) oats – a source of dietary fibre, that can lower cholesterol – and there are lots of those in it. The other cereal is the Nature’s Path Gluten Free crispy rice – which is made with brown rice, so they must have plenty of fibre too. There are dried fruits – sultanas and apricots. Not great for the teeth, but eaten in moderation dried fruits are great for kids because they are rich in iron and a good source of energy.
I took my inspiration for this recipe from Annabel Karmel. Her cereal bar recipe in ‘Feeding your Baby and Toddler’ includes nuts, so I left those out – and used sultanas instead. She also suggests golden syrup, but I prefer agave nectar as it is lower GI and a ‘good’ sugar apparently. Annabel uses butter and I used dairy free sunflower spread, which claims to be healthier. Annabel also uses white chocolate. I used a bit of dark dairy free chocolate, which I am told is also rich in iron and less sugar laden than normal ‘chocolate’. So although it sounds a bit of a sugar fest, I am happy that ‘every so often’, Zac can have this as ‘part’ of his breakfast. If it was washed down with a glass of orange juice, or dairy free milk or water, followed by a dairy free yoghurt or some fresh fruit I think it would qualify as quite a good breakfast and would certainly keep the little chap happy and lively for a few hours.
As with all my favourite recipes this one is egg free and relatively mess free. It was prepared in minutes and ready to eat in less than an hour – so one you might need to make the night before! The end result was perfect and Zac loved it. He told me he would like to have it every day! I am not sure it will be an everyday treat – partly because I can’t see it ‘lasting’ more than a day or two once my husband discovers it, but it certainly is one that I will make again.
Here is the recipe.
150g (5oz) gluten free oats
50g (1 ¾ oz) Nature’s Path crispy rice cereal
100g (3 ½ oz) dried and chopped apricots
60g (2 oz) sultanas or raisins
100g (3 ½ oz) Pure Dairy Free Sunflower Spread
125g (4 oz) agave nectar/syrup
60g (2oz) dairy free dark chocolate (I use the Kinnerton bar that is quite widely available in supermarkets)
The method is delightfully simple. Combine the oats, rice cereal, apricots and sultanas in a mixing bowl. Make sure they are evenly mixed. In another (heatproof) bowl melt the butter, sugar and chocolate, over a small saucepan or boiling water. Once the mixture is completely melted pour it over the dry ingredients and keep stirring until all the ingredients are well coated in the melted butter and chocolate mixture.
Pour it all into a shallow lined or greased tin or dish, pressing down with the back of a spoon to make sure the mixture has a level top. Refrigerate for about an hour. Once it is ready, chop it into pieces and serve – or save for another day, if you can…