My daughter started kindergarten this year! Yes, I am very excited about her being in school, probably as excited as my daughter.
As a child, I loved school, especially the beginning of the year. Meeting new friends and teachers, organizing your new backpack and wearing those new clothes that you picked out weeks ago but only got to admire on hangers. A fresh start to a new year was exciting.
My daughter's first day of kindergarten went smoothly, without emotional breakdown (not that I suspected my daughter would have any problems). She got to go to the "big kid" school, ride the "big van" at daycare and made a new friend. What an accomplished week for my little kindergartener.
This year she goes to daycare before lunchtime at school so I do not have to make lunches, daycare provides lunch. However, we do have to send a healthy snack for the morning at school. So, my daughter and I sat down and made a list of healthy foods she likes and we made a quick reference guide when preparing snacks (I'm a list kind of person, I cannot live without them, they make sense of my world): carrots, apples with peanut butter, whole wheat saltines with peanut butter and jelly, cheese crackers, raisins, air-popped popcorn, fruit cups (homemade), and homemade granola bars.
If you read my blog, you know I like to make everything from scratch. That is the only way to know, really, what is in my daughter's food. So instead of store-bought granola bars, I make homemade bars and send them to school with her. I pack them with high energy ingredients (do little kids really need more energy? yes, yes they do) and less sugar than in the store-bought bars. I use Alton Brown's recipe - really anything he makes I trust, he's the science guy of food.
(adapted from Alton Brown's Granola Bars (www.foodnetwork.com)
8 ounces old-fashioned rolled oats, approximately 2 cups
1 1/2 ounces raw sunflower seeds, approximately 1/2 cup
3 ounces sliced almonds, approximately 1 cup
1 1/2 ounces wheat germ, approximately 1/2 cup
6 ounces honey, approximately 1/2 cup
1 3/4 ounces dark brown sugar, approximately 1/4 cup packed
1-ounce unsalted butter, plus extra for the pan
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
6 1/2 ounces chopped dried fruit, any combination of apricots, cherries or blueberries
Other add-ins: chocolate chips, marshmallows, peanut butter, cinnamon chips - any combination your heart desires.
Nonstick cooking spray
Butter a 9- by 9-inch glass baking dish and set aside. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
In place of the first four ingredients, I used about 3-4 cups of my own homemade granola that was already made. If you are not using granola, spread the oats, sunflower seeds, almonds, and wheat germ onto a half-sheet pan. Place in the oven and toast for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally.
In the meantime, combine the honey, brown sugar, butter, extract and salt in a medium saucepan and place over medium heat. Cook until the brown sugar has completely dissolved.
Once the oat mixture is done, remove it from the oven and reduce the heat to 300 degrees F. Immediately add the oat mixture to the liquid mixture, add the dried fruit, and stir to combine. Turn mixture out into the prepared baking dish and press down, evenly distributing the mixture in the dish and place in the oven to bake for 25 minutes. Remove from the oven and allow to cool completely. Cut into squares and store in an airtight container for up to a week.
Hope all of you out there enjoy this healthy snack!
• Amanda Skiba is a local food blogger who is passionate about food and photography. She posts her personal and favorite recipes at www.stuffurface.wordpress.com.