Saturday, March 21, 2009

Fear and Loving {Cherry Almond Granola Bars}

In the footloose days before my children were born, back when I had a thing called “free time,” I liked to occasionally indulge in a little bit of frivolous fright, for the sheer fun of it. Ha, ha.

My husband and I had season passes to a theme park. Summer weekends would find us riding coaster after coaster after coaster ~ the faster, the steeper, the better. I read Poe and de Maupassant and, ahem, Stephen King; watched scary foreign movies; and once, when my candy bar fell out of its wrapper and landed on the floor of a cheap-seats movie theater, in Chicago, I ate it anyway.

But nothing, nothing, I sought a vicarious thrill of fear from back then compares to the absolute FRIGHT-FEST that is part and parcel of parenting. To become a parent is to expose oneself to blood-curdling, heart-stopping, hair-turning-grayer-by-the-day fear. On a semiregular and completely unpredictable basis.

Emergency late-night appendectomy? Been there. Bone broken with an audible snap? There too. Dog bite? Blistering burn? Spontaneously dislocating kneecaps? Oh, yeah. And that’s all just courtesy of my daughter, prior to her 12th birthday.

And the scariest thing I've ever read? No horror novel on earth has the power to turn the bowels to water like the few short pages of text that came with my son’s lacrosse helmet.

I sat up reading it late at night, after everyone had gone to bed. Oh, what a terrible mistake. My teeth would have been chattering had my jaw not been clenched so tightly. I nudged my husband. “Honey, honey, listen to this . . . ‘Lacrosse IS dangerous. You risk severe brain, head and neck injuries that cause paralysis or death.’”

That was on page 1 of the manual. I kept reading.

On page 4: “You risk serious injury at all times. While playing lacrosse, there is a risk of serious and/or fatal injury.”

Page 5: “Lacrosse is a rough body-contact sport. Severe injuries, including face, head and neck injuries, can and do occur while playing. . . . You could live the rest of your life in a wheelchair or worse.”

I read the words “slashing,” “spearing,” and the positively throat-closing, “Never use the butt end of your stick to check someone. You may put the end through your opponent’s face mask and cause serious or fatal injury to the other player.”

And ~ sweet mother of Abraham Lincoln ~ the clincher: “There is no way to protect yourself fully from all injuries. Nothing can protect you from another player’s lack of judgment or accidents.”

I closed the booklet and looked at the cover. Large red letters spelled out “Helmet Safety Booklet.” Was it meant to be tongue in cheek?

I snapped off the light, then lay there in the dark, pondering. (And by “pondering,” I mean running with icy sweat and trying not to wake up my teenager just so I could hug him.) I thought, to have the booklet, you’ve bought the helmet, which means you’ve already committed to playing the game, right? Right?! So . . . the ominous warnings can’t be meant to have the “turn back, TURN BACK” effect they are rapidly inspiring in this mom, can they?


In nearly 15 years of parenting, my husband and I have been through surgeries, broken bones, stitches, and countless other sports and nonsports-related injuries and illnesses with our kids. And sometimes it’s not even the physical ones that hurt the most, but the emotional slings and arrows of slights, betrayals, and buffeting at the rougher hands of the world at large.

If I’ve learned one thing, I’ve learned that God can protect my kids a lot better than I can, so there’s really no point in competing for the job. So . . . what to do?

You pay a small fortune for protective equipment including a helmet that comes equipped with dire warnings. You make sure the kids get good, nourishing food to fuel their bodies and satisfy their seemingly endless appetites. And then you lie awake at night and pray, pray, pray.

Chewy Cherry Almond Granola Bars

These are a great energy-boosting snack. Healthy, nutritious, and easily customized.

  • 1 cup rolled oats
  • 1 cup quick-cooking (not instant oats)
  • 1/3 cup packed light brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup whole wheat flour
  • 1/2 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 cup wheat germ
  • 2 tablespoons dehulled millet
  • 1/2 cup dried cherries, chopped
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 cup chopped almonds
  • 1/2 cup honey
  • 1/2 cup oil
  • 1 egg, lightly beaten
  • 1 teaspoon pure almond extract
  • 1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Lay a sheet of aluminum foil inside a 9 x 13-inch glass baking dish and mold it to fit the dish. Spray foil with nonstick cooking spray.
  2. In a large bowl, combine oats, brown sugar, wheat flour, white flour, wheat germ, millet, cherries, salt, cinnamon, and almonds. In a medium mixing bowl, combine honey, oil, egg, and extracts. Stir liquid ingredients into dry ingredients; mix until thoroughly combined and all dry ingredients are evenly moistened. Spoon mixture into foil-lined baking dish and press into an even layer with a spatula or a buttered hand.
  3. Place pan in a 350F oven for 25 to 30 minutes, or until edges begin to brown. Set pan on rack and let cool completely. When cool, carefully lift foil out and transfer to cutting board. Use a large, sharp knife to cut into bars.
  4. If desired, wrap individually in plastic wrap and store in a tightly sealed container in the freezer. Thaw at room temperature for 15 minutes.

Makes about 20 bars.

Click here for printable view.

Recipe Notes:

  • You can use all rolled oats, all quick oats or a combo of both. I like to use a combination because it provides a nice texture.
  • If you have sunflower seeds on hand, you can use them instead of, or in addition to, the millet. Be sure you buy dehulled millet!
  • Dried cherries, raisins, cranberries, and apricots all work well in these bars. For easy cleanup, wipe or spray your knife blade with a bit of oil before chopping them.


Elyse said...

These bars look totally delicious--and nutritious! I can't wait to try out your recipe. said...

These bars look wonderful- I plan to play around with them and make them Gluten Free for a friend who has been searching for a good GF Homemade Granola Bar. Thank you so much!

The Duo Dishes said...

We've got to work on our granola bar cutting. It'd be more fun if they looked like yours!

Anonymous said...

Cherry almond granola bars sound fantastic. I've printed out the recipe. Thanks for sharing.

Anonymous said...

these were delicious! absolutly fantastic! I hope to see more variations of this wonderful snack.

Kim said...

Sandy- That post was the perfect way to explain parenting!! Scariest thing in the world, I agree. My baby, who is 2, broke his arm right before xmas. I think that day in the ER I aged ten years easily. Then comes the laying awake at night and hoping it doesn't happen again. Good luck with the lacrosse. I'll cross my fingers for ya.

Sandy Smith said...

~Kim: Oh, your poor little one! I can't imagine having a baby in a cast. We managed to avoid our first ER visit till kindergarten, and then it was for stitches. But we'd had a surgery before then, so at least we knew how to get to the hospital! ;)

If I may offer some words of advice ~ do NOT lie awake at night worrying . . . get all the sleep you can get. There is no point in worrying, and you'll need your rest for those nights when you're up for other reasons, like round-the-clock care!

And thanks for the well wishes regarding lacrosse! First game down, no grievous injuries to report! ;)

Donna @ WayMoreHomemade said...

I love this post. You spoke to my heart. Oh, and the granola bars.. SO trying that. Only, not being a nut person, I'll likely use chocolate chips instead... cuz nothing says love like chocolate. :)

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