Friday, August 26, 2011

Snacking Situation

I try to serve nutritious meals to my family on most nights but my kids still consume about 50% of their daily calories through snacks.  During the week, I pack snacks for the bus ride, they eat a snack as soon as they walk in the door from school, and they eat continue to snack throughout the evening.  On the weekends, they seem wander through the kitchen on an hourly basis to grab a snack.  I do my best to keep the house stocked with healthy snacks - which seems like a never ending task these days.

Several months ago, I reorganized the snack shelf in my panty and invested in some new plastic containers to store snacks.  My goal was to make healthy snacks more accessible.  These are the things that I keep stocked on my snack shelf: nuts, whole wheat crackers, trail mix, dried fruit, granola bars, cereal bars, cliff bars, peanut butter crackers, goldfish crackers, oatmeal, cereal, popcorn, and peanut butter.  I also keep a bowl of fresh fruit on the counter. 

When my kids were younger, I was in control of everything they ate and it was easier to ensure that they were eating nutritious snacks.  Now that they're teenagers, I am trying to teach them to make their own healthy snack choices.  Hopefully the good habits that they start now will carry over into adulthood. 

I was looking through my recipes this afternoon in search of a new snack.  I wanted to find something with fruit, nuts and oats.  I came across this recipe for Chocolate, Cranberry and Oat Bars from a 2007 Food and Family magazine and decided to give it a try.

Chocolate, Cranberry and Oat Bars
1 cup dried cranberries                1/4 teaspoon salt   
1/4 cup orange juice                    3/4 cup butter
1 1/2 cups flour                           1 1/2 cups brown sugar
1 1/2 cups oats                            2 eggs
1 teaspoon baking powder          1 cup chocolate chunks
                                                    1/2 cup pecan pieces

Combine orange juice and cranberries.  Microwave on high for 30 seconds.  Let stand 10 min.  Combine flour, oats, baking powder and salt.  Cream butter and sugar in standing mixer.  Beat in eggs.  Add flour mixture.  Stir in nuts, chocolate and cranberries.  Spread into a greased 9x13 pan.  Bake 25 min. at 350.

The bars were so soooo good.  The kids each gobbled one up when they got home from school and another one after dinner.  I packed one in each of their lunch boxes for tomorrow too.  These bars would make a great snack after a mountain bike ride or soccer practice too.  They're easy to pack and I am guessing that they would freeze really well too.  (I didn't get a chance to put one in the freezer because they were gone to quickly.)  If your kids don't like dried cranberries - try swapping them with raisins.  I added this recipe to my collection of snacks - I hope that you will too.   

Bon Appetit!

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