Monkey Boy and Little Man are going to different schools this year...something I neglected to blog about simply because having two kids in two different schools means 2x the volunteer hours for me! We sent MB to a new charter school and have been super happy with how it has turned out- small class sizes and a collaborative, "21st century' approach to learning has made MB's 1st grade outstanding so far.
One of the other differences between the kids' schools is that MB's school is nut-free- no peanuts, tree nuts or any other nuts are allowed. LM's school allows nuts and has an 'allergy table' for those kids who need to avoid nuts (or other allergens) at lunch time. One of kids' favorite things to eat is granola bars, which I never had a problem sending until this year...did you know it's practically impossible to find nut-free granola bars?
I searched high and low and found gluten-free granola bars, dairy free granola bars, sugar free granola bars- but it was impossible to find nut-free bars. Of course I then turned to the internets and found a granola bar recipe that I was able to change to be completely nut-free so that both LM and MB could bring bars to school. Here's the recipe:
3 cups rolled (old fashioned) oats
1/2 cup wheat germ (not pictured)
1/2 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips or chunks
1/2 cup dried fruit- I use a berry medley from Trader Joe's
1 can (14 oz) sweetened condensed milk
Preheat oven to 325
Line a 9x13 inch pan with parchment paper or heavy duty foil. Make sure the lining covers the bottom of the pan and goes up the sides part way- otherwise your bars will stick like crazy to the pan! Grease lining with cooking spray.
Mix all the ingredients in a big mixing bowl.
Pour into the prepared pan and pat down until it's evenly and firmly packed.
Bake until golden- approx 30 min. Let the pan cool on the counter till granola is firm, then use the parchment paper/foil to lift the bars from the pan.
Cut into bar shapes with a sharp knife.
Wrap individually in wax paper or plastic wrap, or store in an airtight container.
Makes approx. 16 bars.
This makes for a firm, slightly chewy granola bar that tastes a lot like a big oatmeal cookie. The kiddos love them and will eat two batches a week. It's a very versatile recipe, too, since you can use different dried fruit: I've tried a raisin medley, plain cranberries, wild blueberries, and chopped mangos in different batches and they all came out delicious.
If I let Little Man make a batch, he will add some honey or molasses for some added sweetness but I think it tastes fine without. The sweetened condensed milk not only binds the granola together, but adds a nice carmel-y flavor once it's baked.
And of course, you can add any nuts you would like...just reduce the amount of rolled oats by the amount of nuts you add. So adding 1/2 cup of almonds means you will only use 2.5 cups of rolled oats.