Cooking with kids… gluten-free Bear Bars

When I was a kid, we used to spend Saturday afternoons watching the wrestling on TV. Not the kind of wrestling that’s on now – in those days it was English wrestling with the likes of Giant Haystacks and Big Daddy. And, I have to say, we watched it on a black and white television. My parents didn’t really like us watching television, so it was only while they were out and we were being looked after by one of our parents’ more indulgent friends that we could manage to sneak the TV on.

It was all faked, you know. The wrestling, that is. But we used to love it. I’m sure we should have done something more constructive, but, somehow, sitting down on the floor with a bag of sweets and watching staged fighting was great fun. I suppose we knew, even then that it wasn’t real, which is why it didn’t frighten us all. Kids are OK with play acting.

Actually, now I think of it, I’m sure we couldn’t have watched wrestling every weekend. For one thing, I can’t believe that our parents would have been out every single Saturday. Funny how things like that stick in your memory.

It would be nice if I could be part of a child’s memories of growing up though…….

Last week my friend came round with her daughters and we made pasta and we had such good fun that we decided to spend this Saturday afternoon cooking something else. We needed to choose something that the children could make easily at home and it would be good to make sure that the   something was something that would taste good enough, while being healthy, and might just replace chocolate biscuits.

This time, one of their brothers came with them. We decided to make Bear Bars, but as I was trying out recipes to see what they were like gluten-free, we thought we would adapt our usual recipe and make sure that everything we used would be safe for coeliacs.

I got my little helpers to carry the jars of nuts, seeds and fruit from the larder. Because I want them to learn that so much of cooking is just good judgement (well apart from fancy sugarwork or pastry, say) we got out a big bowl and a scoop. I wanted them to see that cooking could be relaxed and fun.

We had pistachios, goji berries, green sultanas, dessicated coconut, raw flaked coconut, chopped mixed nuts, golden granulated sugar, ground almonds, dried cranberries, raisins, two small jars of Bramley Apple Sauce (thank you, Tesco!) two eggs and, because we were making this for coeliacs or gluten intolerant people

instead of using my normal wholewhat self raising flour, I bought gluten free flour and (and this is a rarity, according to my coeliac friend, A)  porridge oats that are guaranteed to be gluten free.

It’s not the oats that cause a problem…. it’s the fact that they are usually processed in a factory that processes other grains so the oats are liable to pick up some trace of contamination. For a coeliac this can cause (even in minute amounts) severe problems. If you are using oats make sure that they, like these, are made in a controlled environment and are certified as being gluten free.

We started off with two scoops of gluten free porridge oats

A scoop of gluten free self raising flour

And then we set about, taking turns, adding a scoop from every jar. The one who scooped, couldn’t stir… the one who stirred could scoop the next time.

We loved looking at all of the different colours.

All of the dried ingredients have to be mixed together with a scoop of sugar and a pinch of salt added.

With a bit of help, two eggs were cracked into a jug and enthusiastically whisked with a fork and that, along with the contents of two small jars of Bramley Apple Sauce into the big bowl and stirred round.

This was probably the hardest bit of the job – partly because they both insisted on mixing the egg and apple in together.

One of the good things about having lots of ingredients was that it makes lots of Bear Bar mix. That means the two of them could have a flapjack tin each to spread out the mix

I’d lined the tins with silicone sheets so the bars would be easier to get out once they were baked and the two of them decided to race each other to see who could get the smoothest mix….

The oven was lit , heated to 160 degrees and the tins went in for half an hour.

Now, good and clever those children are (they knew, for example, the difference between herbivore, carnivore and omnivore)  they somehow hadn’t managed to grasp the concept of time….

“Is it half an hour yet? Are you sure? I can smell the Bear Bars… are they ready?”

Eventually they were. The only problem I had then, was keeping them from snaffling some until they were cooled.

The children went home clutching a ready supply of gluten-free Bear Bars, that, I have to say, were no different from normal Bear Bars.

The only question they had was that if they were made for the Bear (our lovely Omnivorous Bear) was that because they had everything in that a Bear would eat? I said yes, of course.

“So where’s the meat, then? A bear would eat wolves and there’s no wolf meat in there”

How very true. We appear to have made gluten-free and wolf-free Bear Bars.


Lesley… in her own words….

So where to start……….I have a love hate relationship with food and the biggest hate of all is cooking it! I also hate vegetables except onions,tomatoes and raw peppers and like my food extremely spicy. I can’t eat on a morning, get the munchies after alcohol late at night and if I decide I like something I will eat it for every meal for weeks on end………..disturbed?………..just slightly!
I’ve been following Wendy’s blog since the beginning and have always resisted her coaxing to have a go pre-blog, but the no knead bread sounded lovely and worth a try. I do eat bread (which is a bonus) it could be made in one bowl (which was always a stipulation I’d given Wendy in the past) and it required so little effort that even I couldn’t complain! My biggest problem was that I had no ingredients and no bowl but a trip to the supermarket fixed that one and I had no excuses left. Wendy, bless her, gave me phone numbers to contact her on for hand holding and encouragement but I was brave and ventured into the kitchen alone! I made the mixture and was grateful that I’d followed other people’s experiences and knew that when Wendy said it was wet, she meant very wet! I think I’d have panicked at that stage otherwise and binned the lot! I did it just before I went to bed so left it in the kitchen until I got home from work the following day. In the morning I sneaked a look and I could see it had expanded so something was obviously working!
When I got home I cranked up the laptop and checked the next stage taking particular note of the pictures and getting quite excited when mine looked exactly the same! I dragged the mixture out rolled it in flour left a bit longer and then dusted it and wrapped it in the t-towel. The next couple of hours waiting weren’t wasted……I used them to locate the cooker and work out how to switch it on (well I did say I hate cooking!)
The final stage and I have to admit to a bit of a panic when some of it stuck to the t-towel ……but I persevered and it actually wasn’t too bad and did come away eventually. Then… it went into the pre-heated oven and I waited…………with a glass of tinto to keep me company and calm my nerves! I was amazed when it actually looked as it should do when I took it out of the oven and even more amazed this morning when I tasted it and it was edible…….and not just edible it was really really tasty! 🙂
It’s definitely something I’ll make again so I’ll forgive Wendy for bullying – sorry that should say encouraging – me and I may even try something else in the future! 🙂 Oh and here’s a picture just to prove I did it! Lesley x
Lesley S bread

10 November… Lesley made Bear Bars

Lesley S Bear Bars

And she liked them! 

 “Yes that was really easy and I had to have a taste even tho they are going to be my breakfasts for the next 3 weeks – it was yummy! I did change a few things – used raisins, sultanas, cherries, mixed nuts, cashews, walnuts, des coconut, sunflower seeds and about a tablespoon of molasses sugar with the oats, flour, apple sauce and eggs :-)…”

and she was so impressed she told her friend

“They’re called Bear Bars Margie after Wendy’s hubby! Lovely tasty bars of fruit and nuts and seeds – very healthy and tons better than the shop bought ones and they’re really filling! Get Nat to make you a batch – here’s the link:…”
And then she saw the Chicken Jalfrezi……
Lesley S Chicken Jalfrezi
Lesley ” has been cooking again! I made up for the weather outside by making this from Wendy’s Jalfrezi recipe and very nice it is too! :-)) Notice I don’t take much convincing when it comes to curry! lol”
Good work, Lesley!
And then she proved she had been paying attention… and produced Bone Idle Bread!Lesley Bread

17 January 2010

Lesley has been cooking again… and this time, having a real cooking session. Shepherd’s Pie in the morning,

followed by Keema

So much for never cooking eh? And she lets slip that she regularly bakes Bear Bars….

I think the avowed non-cook is resuming her kitchen duties! Way to go Lesley!

15 April 2010

Lesley cooked again… this time the Pastryless Pie

Lesley says:

Well I’ve made this tonight and once again I’m impressed – and not just with myself for doing it! I did tinker a bit with the recipe and ended up using stilton, smoked cheddar, broccoli, mushrooms, tomatoes and red onion. Had the potato base and ham edging but used fromage frais instead of double cream. It tastes fabulous and I even managed the broccoli which is a bit of a miracle really because I have an affinity with The Bear when it comes to that! So thanks Wendy for another recipe added to my repertoire! x

Look at that delicious edging!

A perfect example of using a base recipe and changing it to suit your ingredients or preferences!