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Cooking with Kids: Fruit and Nut Energy Bars

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Cooking with kids is not just for parents; it is also for grandparents. It is great for bonding time as it provides quality time in a non-threatening atmosphere where each generation can share openly with the other. It is also a time when grandparents can convince their grandchildren to eat healthy, especially when they have a part in preparing the snack.

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Such is the case for these healthy granola-type fruit and nut energy bars which can be prepared in just 20 minutes. After that, they sit in a fridge for at least four hours, until you're ready to eat them. This recipe comes from ChopChop: The Kids' Guide to Cooking Real Food with Your Family (Simon and Schuster), by Sally Sampson. Kids can personalize the bars to include ingredients of their choice (within reason, of course).

Ingredients:

  • ½ cup toasted chopped nuts (one kind or a combination of almonds, walnuts, or pecans)
  • ¾ cup dried fruit (one kind or a combination of raisins, currants, dried cranberries, or chopped dates, plums, apricots, or peaches)
  • ¾ cup old-fashioned oats
  • ¾ cup crisp rice cereal
  • 2 Tablespoons unsweetened coconut (if you like)
  • ½ cup almond or peanut butter
  • ¼ cup honey, real maple syrup, or agave syrup
  • ½ teaspoon vanilla extract

Directions:

  1. Line the pan with waxed or parchment paper or aluminum foil and leave enough hanging over the edges so you can cover the bars later. (You will need a little more than twice as much as the bottom of the pan.)
  2. Put the nuts, dried fruit, oats, rice cereal, and coconut, if you like, in the large bowl and toss well.
  3. Put the almond butter and honey in the small bowl and microwave until the almond butter is softened, about 30 seconds. Stir until smooth.
  4. Add the vanilla extract and stir again until smooth.
  5. Pour the almond mixture into the large bowl and mix until well combined.
  6. Put the mixture into the prepared pan and pat down as hard as you can. Make the bars dense. Using the overhanging waxed paper, cover the bars completely. Cover the pan with plastic wrap and refrigerate at least 4 hours and up to 1 week.
  7. Using a knife, cut into 16 bars.
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