Our mission to turn the Little Lady into our resident sous chef (or at least teach her to tolerate the significant amount of time we spend in the kitchen) is a continuing work in progress. Some ideas don’t succeed — mixing herbed turkey meatballs by hand was a notable recent failure — while others, like my mother’s homemade granola bars, are tried-and-true, kid-friendly classics.
Chock full of raisins, apples and chocolate chips, these granola bars were clearly designed with a child’s palate in mind. They also happen to be nut-free — huzzah! — so you can whip up a batch for a play date or pack them in your child’s lunchbox without fear of sending someone else’s little darling into anaphylactic shock.
A hot oven and a knife are involved, so parental supervision is a must, but there is so much more to cooking that can pique a child’s interest: the sensory experience of smelling spices and tasting components, the mathematics utilized in measuring ingredients, the motor skills honed by mixing with tools, and the confidence bolstered by mastering a skill that produces a tangible (and tasty) item. Valuable lessons at any age!
Gigi’s Granola Bars
- 3 cups old fashioned rolled oats (P&V recommends Bob’s Red Mill brand. To note, do not use the “quick cooking” variety of oats.)
- 1 cup raisins (P&V favors golden raisins but any variety would be delicious!)
- 1 cup shredded unsweetened coconut
- 1 apple, peeled and cut into a small dice
- 1/2 cup sunflower seeds
- 1/2 cup semisweet chocolate chips
- 1 1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon
- 14 oz (1 can) sweetened condensed milk
- 1 stick of butter, melted
Preheat the oven to 325 degrees. Line a 13″ x 9″ baking dish with parchment paper. Place all of the ingredients into a large mixing bowl and (here’s the fun part!) use your hands to combine so all of the ingredients are moistened and evenly mixed. Firmly press the mixture into an even layer in the bottom of the parchment-lined baking dish. Bake for 40-45 minutes until golden and remove from the oven. Cool completely (soooooo hard to wait but this is *crucial* if they are to hold together properly!) and then slice into individual bars. Store in a resealable container at room temperature or in the refrigerator (a matter of personal preference) with parchment paper separating each layer of bars to prevent sticking. To note, these aren’t commercial granola bars so they can be a bit crumbly. If some bits fall apart during the slicing process, we highly recommend saving them to top a bowl of yogurt and fruit for a delicious treat!