Listen up. French Fridays is joining a global revolt. Created by English chef Jamie Oliver, who crossed the Pond to transform the way America feeds its children, we Doristas are proud to hold our whisks high and march into battle. It’s Food Revolution Day. For the past 3 years, we have set aside this special Friday to support Oliver’s mission of inspiring kids to be food smart.
My secret weapon for FRD are the irresistible Applesauce Spice Bars. These amazing sweets are loaded with healthy – diced apples, plump raisins, chopped nuts and unsweetened applesauce. Spiced up with cinnamon and allspice and frosted with a swoon-worthy brown-sugar glaze, one of these tasty bars will multiply your happy tenfold. Family, friends, or guests? Smitten. Just crumbs left. The recipe is below.
Now I’m game for this revolution but who wants to do battle alone? Not me. So I texted my California family and asked if they’d care to revolt with me. With a little prodding from Melissa, their mother, both Emma, 13, and Clara, 11, agreed, saying there’s nothing they’d rather do! Although I wasn’t privy to the negotiations, I think it revolved around, “It’s Grandma. Her Blog. You will participate.”
Food Revolution Day is about getting kids food savvy, setting them up for a long, healthy life. Over 42 million children worldwide under the age of five are now overweight/obese. That’s doubled since 1980. YIKES. As a result, childhood diabetes is on the uptick. Readers, it’s time to throw up a Stop Sign.
Emma and Clara know their way around their kitchen. However, it was two years ago, when their mom opened her own business, working long hours, that they stepped up their game. During most weeks, they make a meal plan, Melissa does the shopping and some prep, but it’s the girls who have the meal ready-to-go by dinnertime. Both of them make their own school lunches and, if treats are to be baked, they do it. Since we often trade text photos of what we’re making, this could be an ideal time for more food conversation.
Our family eats healthy but we also don’t discount sweet treats. Since Emma’s speciality is Oatmeal-Raisin Cookies which her Mother had already requested for her Mother’s Day stash, she would bake a batch. I was in for Applesauce Spice Bars. Clara’s choice was a dilemma, bagels and pretzels which she’d never done or baked donuts. “The best treats I have ever made,” she said, “were Nutmeg Cinnamon Donuts with Maple Frosting.”
She made all three.
Our food conversations meandered around the best things they make….
Emma: “I love to make Lemon Bars, Macaroons and, of course, Oatmeal- Raisin Cookies with Chocolate Chips. I make the part of dinner that is not meat. [note: Emma is a Vegetarian.] And, I LOVE nachos.”
Clara: “I can make Omelettes, Donuts (baked), all types of Cookies, Burritos, Ham, and Sausages.”
and, their worst disasters.
Clara: “My worst disaster was when I accidentally used powdered sugar instead of granulated sugar (the cookies tasted GREAT though). I also made a cornbread and it sunk. It tasted and looked weird, but I do not know what I did.”
Emma: “Once I make a toffee brownie thing in a pan for a Superbowl party but it tasted bad. It was kinda bitter and gross! “ =(
Wanting to know if they enjoyed this kitchen thing and wished to expand their repertoire, I asked what more they’d like to learn to cook. Their wants ranged from fancier main course dishes and ice cream (“I want my Mom to teach me.”) to quiche and brownies.
As I sit writing this post tonight, on the eve of Food Revolution Day 2015, I feel grateful, very grateful and also sadly alarmed. My grandchildren are not who we are trying to reach on this important day. Emma and Clara are not targeted by the California-based Jamie Oliver Food Foundation. They have not met hunger nor suffer nutritional deficiencies. Their parents are tough taskmasters, seeing to their nourishment and filling their bellies with healthy, organic foods. Those kids are already food smart and have the best shot to live a long, healthy life.
My alarm is about the 2.6 million children worldwide who die each year because of hunger-related causes. In the United States alone, 15.8 million children live in food insecure households. It gets worse. Thirty to 40% of the food supply here is wasted. That’s more than 20 pounds of food per person per month. It gets worse. The tab for that lost nourishment is creeping towards almost $200 billion. Hooray and thank you to food activists Oliver, Alice Waters, Ann Cooper and Michelle Obama for their efforts to bring more nourishing choices to America’s school lunchrooms.
Statistics: *WHO, March 2013; United Nations Environment Programme, N. America; Feeding America
APPLESAUCE SPICE BARS by Dorie Greenspan, Baking from my home to yours Cookbook
(Makes 32 bars)
1-1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground allspice
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 stick (8 tablespoons) unsalted butter
1 cup (packed) light brown sugar
2 large eggs
1/2 cup unsweetened applesauce
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 tablespoon applejack, brandy or dark rum (optional)
1 baking apple, such as Rome or Cortland, peeled, cored and finely diced or chopped
1/2 cup plump, moist raisins (dark or golden)
1/2 cup chopped pecans
2-1/2 tablespoons heavy cream
1/3 cup (packed) light brown sugar
2-1/2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 teaspoon light corn syrup
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1. Center a rack in the oven and preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Butter a 9-x-13 inch baking pan, line the bottom with parchment paper, butter the paper and dust the inside of the pan with flour. Tap out the excess flour and put the pan on a baking sheet.
2. Whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, spices and salt.
3. In a medium heavy-bottomed saucepan, melt the butter over low heat. Add the brown sugar and stir with a whisk until it is melted and the mixture is smooth, about 1 minute. Remove the pan from the heat.
4. Still working in the saucepan, whisk in the eggs one at a time, mixing until they are well blended. Add the applesauce, vanilla and liquor, if you are using it. Whisk until the ingredients are incorporated and the mixture is once again smooth.
5. Switch to a rubber spatula and gently stir in the dry ingredients, mixing only until they disappear. Mix in the apple, raisins and nuts. Scrape the batter into the prepared pan and smooth the top with a rubber spatula.
6. Bake for 23 to 25 minutes, or until the cake just starts to pull away from the sides of the pan and a knife inserted into the center comes out clean. Transfer the baking pan to a rack and let the cake cool while you make the glaze.
7. For the glaze, in a small saucepan, whisk together the cream, sugar, butter and corn syrup. Put the pan over medium heat and bring the mixture to the boil, whisking frequently. Adjust the heat so that the glaze simmers, and cook, whisking frequently, for 5 minutes. Remove the pan from the heat and stir in the vanilla.
8. Turn the cake out onto a rack, remove the paper and invert the cake onto another rack, so it is right side up. Slide the parchment paper under the rack to serve as a drip catcher. Grab a long metal icing spatula and pour the hot glaze over the cake, using the spatula to spread it evenly over the cake. Let the cake cool to room temperature before you cut it.
Storing: Kept in a covered container, the bars will be fine for about 3 days at room temperature. Because of the glaze, they cannot be frozen.
French Fridays with Dorie is an international group of food bloggers who are cooking their way through Around My French Table cookbook by Dorie Greenspan. Visit our link here. Merci to Canadian blogger Mardi Michels of http://www.eatlivetravelwrite.com/ who not only supports Jamie Oliver’s efforts but also encourages the FFWD participation.