Its crazy, I know.
A national day dedicated to apricots? Weird. And yet, I find myself getting behind it more than, say, National Marzipan Day (Jan 12) or National Twilight Zone Day (May 12). Regardless of my own feelings, my kids think that it is pretty fantastic to celebrate ‘national’ days and sometimes I find myself highlighting them just for the fun of it. For example, July is National Anti-Boredom month (true story) and I have big BIG plans for my kids then. Stay tuned…
Since fresh apricots are not in season right now, I thought my kids would like to work with dried apricots. For their size, they have a good amount of fiber and are high in potassium and Vitamin A. The gorgeous color comes from a spray of sulfur dioxide that keeps them from turning brown as they dry. Organic (untreated) dried apricots are obviously healthier, but know that they will have more texture to them and will be much darker. They taste the same, but don’t have that trademark bright orange glow that most of us love. They also can be hard to find, even in natural food stores, so if you want to give them a try, the internet is your best bet.
I tend to stir them into scones and homemade granola bars, but growing up, my mom just let us snack on them in trail mix. A variety of nuts, some whole grain cereal, and lots of dried fruit dumped in a gallon ice cream pail was our car travel snack of choice. Once in a great while, we got REALLY lucky and she added a bag of M&M’s to the mix. If I could effectively fight off my siblings, I tried to pair the chocolate and apricots together in one bite.
This treat keeps that same good stuff together. It’s fast. It’s easy. And when your kids’ help, they may not look as pretty but they will taste just fine, and THAT is what is important here. With all the rain the Midlands have been plagued with lately, this is an indoor activity that also helps add some variety to snack time and lunch boxes. I like a few in the afternoon as a quick pick me up or a couple with a cup of tea after the kids go to bed. Very nice.
See? All these national food days can be kinda fun! Now, if you will excuse me, I am off to prepare for National Hot Buttered Rum Day (Jan 17). CHEERS!
Chocolate Dipped Dried Fruit
6 oz-good quality chocolate chips (about 1/2 bag)
1 tsp canola, vegetable, or coconut oil
In a small glass bowl, combine the chocolate and oil. Heat in the microwave on 30 second intervals, stirring between each until the chocolate is smooth when stirred and just melted. Dip one end of the dried fruit in the chocolate and set on parchment or wax paper to cool and set. Let the chocolate harden and then store the fruit in an airtight container.