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Healthy flapjack bars are a good start to the day.

Healthy flapjack bars are a good start to the day.

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Susan Jayne White

Susan Jayne White

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Healthy flapjack bars are a good start to the day.

Cardboard cut-outs of local GPs were recently used to promote the sale of fruit and vegetables in an English supermarket.

Fist-bumping comedy? Nope. Sales rose by 20 per cent.

It's one of the ways in which supermarkets are 'voluntarily' engaging in the fight against childhood obesity. If it doesn't work, the British government are threatening to legislate areas – which include sugar and trans fats – thought to be fuelling the obesity epidemic. (Are you thinking what I'm thinking? That a publicity campaign here might make sense? Featuring, perhaps, the Irish rugby team? Sporty shorts? National policy? Just a suggestion . . . )

Here in Ireland, 26 per cent of nine-year-olds are clinically overweight or obese. We have one of the highest rates of childhood obesity in the world. This is a healthcare crisis. And it threatens every single one of us.

How? Because, even if your child is not overweight or you are not overweight, your taxes will fund the cost of treating obesity.

I'm so bored of lazy politicians pointing the finger at children and parents. Yes, obesity is a "multi-factorial" problem that needs a "multi-factorial" solution. But blaming the victim is a bit too rich for my stomach.

We know that if fruit and vegetables were promoted in a similarly sensational manner as junk food, their appeal to children and teenagers would rise.

In the meantime, fruit and vegetables are relegated to the uncool camp, waiting for voluntary initiatives like those cutesy cardboard cut-outs that are now littering English supermarkets.

Any volunteers?

Healthy Breakfast Bars

Makes 16 large bars.

These flapjacks are cheaper to make and much tastier than shop-bought breakfast bars. They'll even make the tailback traffic enjoyable.

You will need:

1 cup Medjool dates, or pre-soaked regular dates

1 cup ground almonds

2 cups oats

½ cup walnuts, roughly broken

Handful of sunflower seeds

½ cup raisins

½ teaspoon sea-salt flakes (adults only)

2 teaspoons cinnamon

½ cup honey, brown rice syrup or barley malt extract

¾ cup extra-virgin coconut oil

Preheat the oven to 170°C, 325°F, Gas 3. Chop the Medjool or regular dates, whichever you're using, and combine them in a large bowl with the ground almonds, the oats, the roughly broken walnuts, the sunflower seeds, the raisins, the sea-salt flakes, if you're using them, and the cinnamon.

In a saucepan, gently melt the honey, the brown rice syrup or the barley malt extract, whichever you are using, with the extra-virgin coconut oil for 2 minutes.

Create a hole in the centre of the dry ingredients and add the sweetened coconut oil. Mix everything together well, until all the ingredients are glistening.

Scrape all of the mixture into a baking-parchment-lined tin that is no bigger than a magazine page. Press it down firmly with your fingers.

Bake it for for 30 minutes, until it's lightly golden – oats will turn bitter if you let them brown.

Remove the tray from the oven. Carefully press the mixture down with your fingers once more, using a clean tea towel.

Resist cutting the breakfast bars until they have chilled and solidified in the fridge for a few hours.

These delicious, nutritious bars will last for two weeks if they are stored in the fridge.

L

The Extra Virgin Kitchen' cookbook by Susan Jane White, published by Gill & Macmillan, priced €26.99, is available now from all good bookshops

www.susanjanewhite.com

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