[Recipe: Crunchy Granola Bars]
The latest food-related observation that’s got me all in a snit? The way some parents shrug off responsibility for what their kids eat.
The hot button topic in Quinn’s kindergarten classroom right now is community snack. Some parents are pushing for it, because they maintain it’s too difficult to pack a snack each day for their child. They don’t want to mess with it, because it’s, you know, so inconvenient.
I repeat: Some parents are inconvenienced by the task of providing food for their offspring to eat at school.
Hold on a sec. I’m confused. I thought that was part of, you know, the whole parenting job description. Providing fuel for children’s growing bodies, for their nutritional needs. I know we’re busy — busier, busiest — but it seems like one of those things we as parents just need to make time for. (I’m guessing these are some of the same parents who fork out good money for the Subway white bread and ham sandwich and bag of chips that constitutes school lunch.)
I was relieved when the year began and the teacher announced that each child would bring his or her own individual snack. This was a departure from preschool (where, believe it or not, the snacks got more outrageously unhealthy as the year progressed, and at one point included root beer. I know! I spoke up and thankfully things improved) and also from Emmie’s kindergarten and first grade classrooms, when there was a community snack.
Community snack is supposed to work like this: parents sign up and bring a healthy snack for the entire class, about once a quarter. I have two problems with this system. For starters, I don’t want to buy a snack for thirty kids. If I buy something healthy — grapes, say, or grape tomatoes or mini cheeses — it’s going to be expensive, and I’m guessing only half the kids will actually like what I bring and it’s going to end up in the trash. Good food totally wasted is sort of a sticking point for me.
For another thing, there’s a whole contingent of parents out there who count Goldfish as health food. And invariably that’s what my kid will get — or some alternate, every school day — if the community snack system is implemented.
Of course, I’ve voted for the individual snack system, but I’m always in the minority.
High on the scent of my own indignation, and of a mind to bake off a healthy snack, I thought I’d give a go at my first homemade granola bar. It’s something I’ve wanted to try for a while but just haven’t gotten there quite yet, like sky diving or vacuuming under the couch, but much more fun.
Crunchy Granola Bars
Adapted from Cooking with Kids, by Linda Collister
Kashi’s crunchy granola bars are about the last snack-in-a-package standing in my pantry, because they’re high in fiber and protein, and easy to tote. These bars are a great stand-in. Plus, they’re the lowest-in-sugar recipe I’ve found so far.
1 C rolled oats
3 tbsp self-rising flour (the self-rising part is important, I’ve learned. If you don’t have it, you can add a smidge of baking powder — find substitution information here.)
3 tbsp sugar
2 tbsp chopped dates (I suspect raisins would work, too, but the dates were nice because they were moist and sweet)
2 tbsp finely chopped nuts or sunflower seeds
6 tbsp flaxseed meal
4 tbsp unsalted butter, melted
1 tbsp honey
Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Grease an 8-inch cake pan. Mix the oats, flour, sugar, dates, nuts and flax in a large bowl. Add the honey to the melted butter and add the mixture to the oat mixture. Stir well. Tip the oat mixture into the pan and spread evenly with a wooden spoon. Lightly press down, forming an even surface.
Bake for 18 to 20 minutes – the top should look light golden brown. While still hot, cut into bars. Let cool before removing from the pan.