As a kid, the best place in the kitchen was The Drawer. Every week it was replenished with a pack of fun-size chocolates (when Crunchie entered, it was a Bad Week; Milky Way? Amazing). The biscuits lived there too.
Permission wasn't freely granted - you had to ask - but it was easily given. I was always running around and a long way from fat, so treats were just that. I remember one of my school friends being agog at The Drawer. He was chubby as a kid, and his worried parents were super-strict about food; rice cakes were 'snacks' in his house (ugh) so he'd gorge when the opportunity arose whilst playing at our house.
Parents face treat dilemmas nowadays when sugar is the new food enemy. I still love Dairy Milk and all of its pals, and don't know what my own parenting style will be about treats - in my mind, the days when I was in reception weren't all that long ago so the thought of facing the snack dilemma with my child, still a newborn cooing in his first-size babygrows, feels a long way off.
But in my own diet I am trying to avoid loads of sugar secretly entering in joyless ways - like cereals that don't taste great but you eat out of habit, without knowing they're pretty unhealthy. (Shreddies; Harvest Crunch - I'm looking at you.) For the last few months I've been alternating between porridge and Weetabix.
They're not bad - but are getting a bit boring. So I decided to make my own granola. This recipe is really easy and speedy (it makes about a week's supply for one person but you can double the ingredients to make far more). You can also add more or less honey depending on the extent of your sweet tooth / virtuousness, plus whatever nuts, fruits or seeds you like best. And unlike some recipes, all the ingredients are available in any supermarket.
1 tablespoon vegetable oil or water
500g porridge oats
Small handful each of sunflower, pumpkin, sesame, chia or other favoured seeds
Handful flaked almonds or chopped walnuts or other favoured nuts
Two handful raisins (and/or other favourite dried fruits)
Turn on oven at 160C. Mix all the ingredients apart from the raisins or dried fruit in a big bowl. If too dry, add a little water. Spread out over two baking trays and lightly press down, like a flapjack. Bake for about 30 mins, or until lightly browned (more brown means more crunchy).
Remove from the oven and break into small clumps. Allow to cool, then stir in raisins or other dried fruit. Store in a Kilner jar or airtight Tupperware - can last for weeks, but never does in our house... gobble gobble.
Serve with milk, and add fresh fruit like banana or raspberry if desired.