I’m cooking more with both 4-H kids and afterschool programs now that Fall is here, and most of what we make are healthy options that they can make themselves or with a little help. A friend asked me for this granola recipe that I make with the kids, and it’s always a hit. It’s great by itself, with milk or as a yogurt topping. It’s pretty messy when you serve it alone so I put it in Dixie cups for easy serving. Much better for you than box granola that often has LOTS of fat!While snacking can contribute important nutrients to a child’s diet, studies show that snacks are often a source of high-calorie, low-nutrient foods such as sweetened beverages, fried snacks, and cookies. Total daily calorie intake from snacks among children has risen over the years and now contributes as much as 1/3 of a child’s daily calories.Kids and teens have high nutrient needs so it is important to view snacks as an opportunity to refuel growing bodies. Think of snacks as “mini-meals” rather than treats.” Encourage your child to include 2-3 different food groups at each snack. The tips below will help you to get your child on the right snack track:
** Devise a snack plan with your child. Together, make a list of nutritious snacks that your child likes and can prepare independently. Agree on a plan to make sure there is always a plentiful supply of the necessary ingredients. Post the list on the refrigerator.
** Easy-to-fix foods that are popular with children include whole grain cereal with 1% milk, fresh veggies and low-fat dips, pita pockets stuffed with lean turkey and vegetables, fruit and yogurt smoothies, or healthy nachos made with whole corn taco chips, black beans, salsa and grated cheese.
** Take a cue from the grocery store and keep healthy snack choices at eye level on the counter and in your pantry, fridge, and freezer.
** Pack healthy snacks such as trail mix, low sugar energy bars, fruit and water bottles for the times that your child is on the go.
** Encourage children to brush their teeth or at least rinse their mouth with water after they finish eating snacks. Sugarless gum is also helpful for cleaning the mouth when kids aren’t at home.
Easy Microwave Granola
4c oats (regular or quick)
1c shredded or flaked coconut
3/4 c sunflower seeds (or any kind of nuts)
1/4 c honey
1 ½ tsp. Cinnamon
1/4 c cooking oil, butter, or margarine
1/2 c dried fruit (we use dried cranberries)
Mix all together except fruit. Spread into a 9x9 inch glass pan or microwave proof mixing bowl. Microwave on FULL power uncovered 10 minutes stirring every 2 minutes. Stir in fruit and cool. Makes about 10 cups. It kind of tastes like an oatmeal cookie.Once in a while I might stir it well and cook it a little longer, like at a minute at a time until it looks a little more browned- for some extra toasty flavor, but if you’re in a hurry like I usually am when I do this with kids this amount of time usually works. If you have a new microwave and it cooks fast, you may need to reduce the time!! Just check often and stir, stir, stir after the first 6 minutes or so until you figure out how your microwave cooks it….