While I proclaimed my love of Disney yesterday, the one aspect of the Most Magical Place on Earth that really bothers me is the over-abundance of sugar-laden foods. On one had, I absolutely understand the desire to celebrate a trip to Disney with special food treats. I do enjoy the Mickey ice cream sandwiches (and yes, I did have one on the trip). But on the other, some of the “treats” are so over-the-top it’s hard not to shake your head. Take for instance one of our breakfasts; it was a buffet where characters visited your table while you were eating. As if that wasn’t excitement enough for the kids, there was a large bowl of gummy bears placed next to a tray of croissants, along with dishes of jam and butter (I wasn’t aware that gummy bears were a traditional accompaniment to croissants . . . haha). There were also rice krispie treats, krispy kreme donut holes, and brownies. And this was breakfast!!!
Seeing this excess of sugary foods and how easily and in such quantities that people were consuming these foods made me think just how far we’ve come, as a society, from eating, never mind valuing real (unprocessed, sugar- and chemical-free) food.
So now that we’re back, I’m even more committed than ever to making sure my kids grow up to not only value, but to enjoy and to choose real food over it’s processed counterparts.
Which lead me back to my quest to find healthy “treats” that the kids can enjoy during snack time at school and not feel ostracized by the other kids with their processed snacks.
Both my kids LOVE granola bars. I’ve tried to buy healthy store-bought versions, but they are hard to find in school-safe nut-free versions that are actually edible (according to my kids, anyway). And so, I started to research how to make granola bars. And after reading LOTS of recipes, I came up with one that, at least one of the kids and I think is pretty darn good. They’ve been requested as tomorrow’s snack, which I’m taking as a good sign. They were super easy to make – we whipped them up after school and were ready to test after dinner!
Chocolate Chip Granola Bars
1/4 cup butter
1/3 cup honey
2tsp vanilla extract
1/4 cup coconut sugar (or brown sugar if that’s more your thing)
2 cups old fashioned oats
2 cups puffed rice cereal
2/3 cups Enjoy Life chocolate chips
- Line a 9×9″ pyrex pan with parchment paper.
- Heat the oven to 350 and spread the oats on a rimmed baking sheet. Toast the oats for a few minutes (it took about 5 in my oven) until they are just a bit toasty looking in colour.
- While the oats are toasting, put the butter, honey, vanilla, sugar and salt into a small saucepan and heat on medium heat. When the mixture comes to a simmer, put the timer on for about 2 minutes – when the 2 minutes are up, take the pan off the oven and let it cool for a few minutes.
- While the mixture is cooling a bit, add the puffed rice to a big bowl, and then add in the oats and mix until they are well combined.
- You can now add in the butter/honey mixture. I just dumped it in and then mixed it well with a wooden spoon. When all the puffed rice/oats have been well coated with the mixture, add in the chocolate chips and mix well. If the butter/honey mixture is still warm, the chocolate chips will melt a little – personally, we all liked how this turned out. If that’s not your thing, let the butter/honey mixture really cool before you mix all the ingredients together.
- Once everything is well combined, dump it all into the pan and using a metal spoon, press the mixture down into the pan so that it is really tightly packed.
- Put the pan into the fridge and let the bars set up. Once they are firm, lift them out of the pan and cut into as many/few bars as you want.