Monday 11 December 2017

Granola bars are an escape from smartphone hell

Sophie White cooked up some delicious granola bars to avoid the beeping Whatsapp...

Pumpkin seeds are a healthy ingredient of Sophie White's granola bars.
Pumpkin seeds are a healthy ingredient of Sophie White's granola bars.

Sophie White

Himself just got a smartphone. I didn't think he would take to it, until I saw him showing off a spirit-level app to one of his friends. I was surprised and impressed because, up to that point, I didn't realise he knew what an app was – or a spirit level, for that matter.

Before, I had always thought he wasn't very technologically minded, which bugged me because his old phone was always on silent, hidden away in a pocket somewhere, making him virtually impossible to reach.

Now I have to adjust to the fact that he has become one of those people who are surgically attached to their phone, his finger permanently stroking the screen the way a Bond villain might stroke his hairless pet cat (and, no, that's not a euphemism).

One of his first forays into this new world involved joining a WhatsApp group that was started by his friends (the Bitchherd equivalent), which they were calling BoyzLyfe.

Every time the phone was out, he'd be chuckling at some private nugget of wit that had been posted on BoyzLyfe. It's basically photos of burritos and emoticons of pandas crying.

This got so incredibly irritating that, pretty soon, I decided to set up a rival WhatsApp group for the Bitchherd, which I called LabiazLyfe.

I misguidedly thought it could be a female forum for discussing the issues of the day, such as whether "investment sunglasses" were worth it, and the merits of black versus tortoiseshell when it came to said shades.

Instead, however, it became a continuous-scrolling forum of photos of chain-mail condoms (no, really) and emoticons of pandas crying.

At this point, I decided it might be worth channelling my energy into something a bit more worthwhile, such as making these delicious and quite healthy crunchy granola bars.

One pleasant upside of Himself's smartphone acquisition, which I had not anticipated, is that he has, at last, desisted from bringing the newspaper with him on his lengthy excursions to the bathroom.

I had always been deeply disgusted by this habit. I felt it was unhygienic, and that once the paper had made the toilet trip with him, it was irrevocably contaminated and, henceforth, could not be enjoyed by anyone else in the house.

Now he reads the newspaper on his phone and whiles away many a happy hour in the loo – why do men do this? Get in and get out, I say; the bathroom is not a place for lingering – stroking the hairless pet cat, as we now call the smartphone, and probably posting up-to-the-minute photos of whatever he's doing in there. More hellfies than selfies, I imagine.

Still, I'm not complaining, because it gives me much-needed time to myself.

Pumpkin seeds are a healthy ingredient of Sophie White's granola bars.

Crunchy Granola Bars

Makes approximately 18 bars.

You will need:

225g (8oz) rolled oats

150g (5oz) quinoa (rinsed in cold water and dried using a clean tea towel)

75g (3oz) pecan nuts, roughly chopped

60g (2½oz) desiccated coconut

125g (4oz) pumpkin seeds

15g (½oz) coconut oil or butter

100ml (3½fl oz) honey

100ml (3½fl oz) maple syrup

75g (3 oz) sultanas

Preheat the oven to 180°C, 350°F or Gas 4, then line a 25.5cm x 30.5cm (10in x 12in) tray with baking parchment.

In a bowl, combine the rolled oats, the rinsed and dried quinoa, the chopped pecan nuts, the dessicated coconut and the pumpkin seeds. Spread the mixture out on the parchment-lined tray.

Now, leave the mixture in the oven for 15 minutes, mixing it around about halfway through.

Place the coconut oil or the butter, whichever you are using, the honey and the maple syrup in a pot over a medium heat, and stir together until the coconut oil has melted and is well mixed in.

Transfer the toasted mixture from the tray to a large bowl, and add the sultanas. Firmly stir in the coconut-oil mixture, making sure that all of the dry ingredients are well coated.

Line the tray with a fresh sheet of baking parchment, turn the mixture out on to it and firmly press the granola mix into the tray. Reduce the oven temperature to 150°C, 300°F or Gas 2, and bake for 25 minutes, or until the top is golden. The cooked granola is easier to cut when it is still slightly warm, so leave it to stand until it has almost completely cooled, then slice it into 18 bars.

Store the bars in an airtight container. They can be a little crumbly when you cut them, but you can keep the crumbly bits to use as a delicious topping for both yoghurt and fruit.

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