This post is sponsored by Knowledge Universe. Thanks for supporting Brooklyn Supper’s sponsors!
As parents, Brian and I know firsthand how difficult it can be to feed children healthy meals and snacks. One of the paradoxes of living in a society when you can buy almost any kind of food at any time is that the abundance of food can make it harder to eat nutritious meals. I have no doubt that my great-great-great grandparents sat down uncomplainingly to a bowl of lima beans because if lima beans were on the table, then lima beans were what there was to eat. But when you know there’s a box of mac and cheese in the cabinet and a hot pizza is just a phone call away, it can be hard to count yourself as lucky to be tucking into a plate of vegetables. The result is that while many families would like to be healthier, when it comes to meal planning, they feel paralyzed.
That’s why we’re excited to be working with Michelle Obama’s Partnership for a Healthier America (PHA) and Knowledge Universe (KU) on the Grow Happy Initiative. Knowledge Universe announced this week at the Partnership for a Healthier America’s Building a Healthier Future Summit that they’re embarking on a program to promote healthy eating to the families of the 160,000 children enrolled in KU’s 2,000 KinderCare, CCLC, and Champions centers nationwide. One of the largest early childhood education and childcare companies in the US, KU is committed to promoting healthy change for children at its centers by ensuring that they are exercising more and eating healthier meals. KU will also be promoting healthy eating to parents everywhere through their Grow Happy blog (www.growhappy.me), which features lots of helpful information for busy families looking to eat more healthfully, like lifestyle tips, simple recipes, kid-friendly cooking videos, and health tracking tools.
We hope that by promoting the campaign, we can help to make a difference in the everyday lives of kids across the country. In the coming weeks, Brian and I will be sharing healthy recipes for kids as well as simple meal planning tips on the Grow Happy blog. We hope you’ll follow along and share your own wisdom along the way!
In my own quest to have healthy kids, I find on-the-go snacks to be the most daunting. Grabbing a box of crackers or chips is always the simplest answer, but I don’t really want my girls filling up on empty calories so close to dinner. So when I have an extra moment, I prepare for play dates or after school trips to the playground by packing up healthier snacks. Fruit is always a hit, but I find the girls want something substantial too. That’s where these granola bars come in. Though they have a good amount of honey, they’re also loaded with great ingredients like rolled oats, flax and chia seeds, plus lots of dried fruit. They’re chewy and sweet, with a hint of saltiness –– the perfect boost of energy for my girls as they frolic and scream their little hearts out.
These granola bars are an easy template for all kinds of breakfast/snacks variations. Keep in mind that the honey is basically the glue that holds these things together, so if you do want to cut back on the sugar, be prepared for (delicious) chunks instead of proper bars. Also, make sure your bars are completely cool before slicing. I found that cutting with the blade perpendicular to the granola yielded less crumbling. Update: BkS reader Sarah also suggests that the bars will cut cleaner if chilled first.
1/3 cup oat flour (made by grinding oats in coffee grinder)
2 tablespoons flax seed
1 2/3 cups old fashioned rolled oats
2 cup dried Black Mission figs, stems removed and sliced
1 cup unsweetened dried cherries
1/3 cup unsweetened coconut flakes
1/3 cup chia seeds
1/2 teaspoon sea salt, plus a few pinches more for top
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
6 tablespoons butter, melted
1/3 cup plus 2 tablespoons honey
1/3 cup nut butter or tahini
1 tablespoon water
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line an 8 x 8 x 2 inch square baking pan with parchment paper; leave an overhang so you can remove granola from pan easily. Butter parchment generously.
In your coffee grinder or food processor, grind the oats and flax seeds.
In a large bowl, combine the ground oats and flax seeds, whole oats, sliced figs, cherries, coconut flakes, chia, sea salt, and cinnamon. In another smaller bowl combine the melted butter, honey, nut butter or tahini, and water. Fold the wet ingredients into the dry, stirring until mixture is well-blended.
Spoon granola into prepared baking dish. Press out so that it’s in an even layer. Use the bottom of a measuring cup or glass to firmly press the oats down. Sprinkle the top with two pinches of sea salt.
Slide into the oven and bake for 30 – 40 minutes, or until the edges are lightly browned and have started to pull away from the sides.
Cool completely (at least 2 to 3 hours, if not more) before attempting to slice, otherwise bars will crumble into chunks.
Thanks to Knowledge Universe for sponsoring this post!