Cry me a river

[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.

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14 Responses so far »

  1. 1

    thefrenchkitchen said,

    I don’t have kids (in fact I don’t want kids anytime *soon*) but I totally agree with your vote against community snacks. I know a lot of families with children who have food allergies and restrictions and can’t imagine that a parent who is too lazy to get a snack for their kid every day is really going to take the time to worry about food allergies and restrictions when they provide their community snack. I think it’s really sad when parents ask others to do their most important job for them: parent their children.

    But your granola bars look yummy and any classroom full of kids would be lucky to try those :)

  2. 2

    Samantha said,

    Thank you so much for this recipe…I’m going to make up some tonight for my elder. His school does individual, from home, snack as well. Although I’m awfully surprised that they stipulate the snack must be healthy (no chips, cookies, soda) yet they don’t have any rules regarding nuts! Luckily its not a concern in our family but lets face it, kids share food and what happens if a kids snack has nuts and ends up in the wrong hands?!

    I digress…much appreciated! I use Heidi (from 101cookbooks.com)’s power bar recipe as well but always love having options!

  3. 3

    I homeschool my 4 boys so I hear you on the “taking responsitbility for fueling our kids” (I guess I take it a step further with school too!).

    Anyway, thanks for sharing this recipe. I’m going to try it. I like to eat healthy too and would prefer to make most of what we eat. I have not made my own granola bars so thanks for giving me the recipe to do it.
    I use “agave nectar” instead of sugar. It’s doesn’t raise your blood sugar levels and is delicious.

  4. 4

    bakingforthecure said,

    Iv`e been looking for this kind of recipe for quite some time now. This came just at the right moment:) Thanks!

  5. 5

    Oooh, yum! I love homemade granola! What is the texture of the finished bars like? Are they crunchy or chewy? Either way, this is totally up my alley!

  6. 6

    sarah said,

    WOW! That was a very eloquent response to some of my most troubled times with my son starting school. My son was having odd stomach troubles and we were trying to pin point what the issue was. That meant absolutely no dairy. His preschool seemed very concerned and on board, they even made a little warning on his place mat. Did it help? Not one bit. His teacher was always like oops – oops? Needless to say we pulled him out A.S.A.P. But he missed an entire semester of preschool because we were worried a repeat situation would occur.

    Kindergarden wasn’t any better with the non-stop fruit snacks (HFCS), and like you say Gold Fish. I’m not going to say I always adhere to super strict snacking, but he is the kid who has brought dried fruit, or the like. I was always amazed at what qualified as healthy in the classroom, or how parents seemed so inconvenienced by bringing something other than a gimmicky snack.

    These granola bars absolutely need to go into my collection of snacks that don’t involve a character, tons of grease or carbonation. Thank you.

  7. 7

    frankright said,

    i don’t have any kids, but i do plan on it some day, and so, i wholeheartedly agree with you.

  8. 8

    HezmanaGirl said,

    These look fabu! Now I just have to figure out how to make them gluten free so my son can have them… *scratches head*

  9. 9

    Trisha said,

    Thanks, everyone!

    Samantha: Thanks for reminding me of Heidi’s power bar recipe. I’ve got that one around here, somewhere…

    Topiary Lady: Wouldn’t ya know it — I’ve got some agave nectar in my pantry, and I didn’t even think to use it here. It would be perfect in this recipe. I’m trying it that way next time!

    Croque-Camille: These are CRUNCHY (and deliciously so!). Thanks for asking (I should’ve mentioned it and will edit the recipe accordingly). And thanks to the crunch, little oat bits flake off onto the plate — so yummy atop yogurt, don’t you think?

    Sarah: I’m with you on “don’t involve a character.” So true!

  10. 10

    heather said,

    wow, those look lovely. i’m sure your kiddo really enjoyed having these. and i agree, it is a little scary to see what some parents consider a healthy snack these days.

  11. 11

    Jude said,

    “sky diving or vacuuming under the couch”
    haha…. Mine is bungee jumping but i know exactly what you mean.

  12. 12

    Biz said,

    When my daughter was little, (at a time when you could still make things from scratch) each parent was given a week to bring in snacks. I loved being creative, so one day I decided I’d make rainbow bread – I made 4 batches of bread dough, each in a different color, and then mixed a portion of each color to make a loaf of rainbow bread.

    I got these tiny containers for grape jelly and wrapped each slice of bread in wax paper and THEN used licorice whips as string to wrap up each package.

    The result? The kids loved it but the mom’s hated it. They would say “(my son/daughter asks me all the time to make that damn rainbow bread!”

  13. 13

    Trisha said,

    Biz: Rainbow bread! How impressive, and ambitious! I mourn the days when moms could bring homemade stuff to school. So many kids — and moms — are missing out on creative ideas like yours.

  14. 14

    Dee said,

    http://recipesfrommillermanor.blogspot.com/2007/11/brazil-nut-bars.html

    I totally agree with your views on the “healthy snacks”. I always wanted to send my own. Try these granola bars also. They were very well received at our house. I’m going to try yours too!


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