I’ve been on a bit of a health kick lately, and as a result, everyone in the family is eating more fruits and veggies. I’ve been sending carrots, cucumbers and grapes to school with my grade one ponytail — and that worked well for a couple of days. Then I started to notice that the veggies and grapes were still in her lunchbox at the end of each day. When I asked her about it, she said that she was too busy at the monkey bars and didn’t have time for her snack. Although, she did have time for the goldfish that I sent for her morning snack.
I recently mentioned this interesting observation to my mom friend Carolyn and she said that any time she sends carrots or cucumbers for snacks, they end up back home at the end of the day as well. Hmmm, what’s a mom to do?
Thanks to some terrific fellow bloggers and informative websites, I can offer five fairly easy snack ideas that are quite family friendly. Some of them manage to sneak in some dried fruits and veggies in a very tasty way.
1. Quinoa Oatmeal Breakfast Bars — This recipe from Yummy Chunklet is fantastic! (I’ve just started following this blog and I’m really enjoying it.) These bars are quick to make and I just loved the texture that the quinoa adds. I swapped chopped dried cherries for the hazelnuts, so that they are safe to send to school and I used 3 eggs, as suggested in the recipe. I also added a handful of butterscotch chips on the top of the bars before baking. (The Kitchen Sink Granola Bars that I posted a while back are another breakfast bar option as well.)
2. Herb & Parmie Baked Tortilla Chips — These are easy peasy to make. Spray 4 to 6 medium tortilla’s with cooking spray. Cover with finely grated parmesan cheese, a dash of both garlic salt and onion powder, and a pinch of dried parsley. Cut each tortilla into six wedges. Preheat oven to 350°. Bake for 5 minutes; turn over the tortillas and bake for 2 to 3 more minutes. Careful, they burn easily. You could also try other seasonings, such as chili powder, lime juice and dried cilantro. Since these don’t really require a recipe, you can make as few or as many as you like — although they do seem to disappear quickly!
3. Chocolate-Zucchini Cakes — I followed a Martha Stewart Everyday Food recipe, but omitted the walnuts to make them nut-free.
4. Smoked Paprika Roasted Chick Peas – I slightly modified a recipe for Garlic and Cumin Roasted Chick Peas by Charles over at Five Euro Food. (If you haven’t read his blog, I highly recommend it. Charles was one of the first people that I met when I started blogging and his upbeat personality really shines through in his blog.) The girls really loved the Smoked Paprika Almonds that I made recently, so I figured this would help them to give the chick peas a try. It worked! Modifications: I used 2 tbsp oil instead of 3, 2 tsp smoked paprika, a pinch of pepper and one clove of garlic. Everything else was according to the recipe.
5. Oven Dried Pineapple – I followed the directions for oven drying fruit on eHow. I baked the pineapple pieces for about 5 hours at 170°, as that was the lowest setting on my oven. I left them on the pan in the oven overnight (turned off) and then stored them in a plastic container. I skipped the process of leaving them for 10 to 14 days in a pot, as I found other sites that didn’t include this process. (I also noted that others who tried this techinique baked their fruit for 6 to 8 hours.) The dried pineapple had an intense, delicious flavour. We ate them in a couple of days, so I’m not sure how long they would keep this way. I’d like to try using them in my next batch of granola bars. I plan to try this process on some cherries this summer as well.
You can never have too many good snack ideas, so I welcome any other suggestions you may have. I’d also love to hear about your experience with oven drying fruit, as this was new to me.
They say that many hands make light work. But, I think that all depends on the size of the hands.
Although little hands—like those of two energetic and competitive (“no, I want to add the honey”) ponytails —certainly do make things more fun. Well, fun in a making sure your helpers don’t eat all the ingredients before they are added kind of way. Okay, and fun in a bonding kind of way too.
These granola bars are perfect for making with little ones, because there are only four simple steps involved. Measure. Add. Mix. Pour. Of course you must also put them in the oven, but that is no different than lifting a spoon or a fork to your mouth, is it?
The end-result of all that adding and mixing is pretty tasty, and rather healthy I might add. These are perfect to make if you’re looking to reduce the number of pre-made, store-bought snacks (with packaging) in your world. Not that there’s anything wrong with buying snacks—we all have busy lives. I just like to mix things up (literally) and add some homemade snacks to our routine. These are fast and easy.
I’ve adapted the recipe that I found with some substitutions, and added in a few extra goodies. We really like this recipe, but if you have a granola bar recipe that you recommend, I’d love to hear about it.
Kitchen Sink Granola Bars
Adapted from the printed version of TogetherFamily.ca
- 2 cups rolled oats
- ½ cup brown sugar (packed)
- ¼ cup wheat germ
- ¼ cup sesame seeds
- 1 tsp ground cinnamon
- 1 cup whole wheat flour
- ¼ cup raisins
- ¼ cup dried blueberries (substitute with chopped dried cherries or dried cranberries)
- ½ cup sweetened shredded coconut
- ¼ cup chocolate chips
- ¼ cup butterscotch chips
- ½cup marshmallows (optional)
- ¾ tsp kosher salt
- ½ cup honey
- 1 egg, beaten
- ½ cup canola oil
- 2 tsp vanilla extract
- Preheat oven to 350
- Grease a 9 x 13 inch baking pan.
- In a large bowl, mix the oats, sugar, wheat germ, sesame seeds, cinnamon, flour, raisins, dried blueberries, coconut, chocolate chips, butterscotch chips, marshmallow (if using) and salt.
- Make a well in the centre and pour in the oil honey, egg and vanilla. Mix well.
- Pat the mixture down well in the pan.
- Bake for about 25 minutes, until slightly golden brown. Be careful not to overcook.
- Cool for 5 minutes and then cut into squares. Do not let them cool completely or they will be difficult to cut. Once cut, let cool completely before removing from the pan—as they crumble easily if they have not had time to set.
- When adding your ingredients with your measuring cup, be sure to add the oil before the honey. The oil coats the measuring cup, making the honey slide out more easily.
- We also added ¼ cup of cranberries, along with the blueberries because we had lots on hand. We didn’t add any nuts because the school is a nut-free zone.
- Be sure to follow instruction #7 because they will be too hard to cut if you don’t cut them shortly after taking them out of the oven. And, if you try to remove them from the pan right after they are cut, they will be crumbly.