Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Back to School Morning Rush

Okay, school started for us last week. I love that the kids are mentally engaged again. I love not having to write out their summer "to do" lists everyday. I love that during school we're back on a schedule. I, however, DO NOT LOVE the fight to get to bed early, the fight to wake up, the fight to get dressed, teeth brushed, hair done, (let's not even talk about if they need to take a shower in the morning). I DO NOT love having to make their lunches or having to fight with them to eat breakfast.

This year I decided to do something that might make my mornings a little easier. I don't have all the answers, but I'm trying some new things and so far it's working out.

I'm making them make their own lunches. I instructed them that it should include:
1. a main dish - i told them it could be PB&J, last night's dinner, a wrap, cheese and crackers, etc.
2. a fruit or 2 - we have strawberries, grapes, apples, oranges, peaches, etc. to choose from
3. a chip or salty snack - we buy a variety of these
4. a drink - usually their water bottle
5. And a snack for snack time - this can be a string cheese or my son's favorite, korean seaweed!!!

And because I know my kids are always running late, I decided to make homemade granola bars for breakfast on the go. They can literally eat breakfast while walking to school. I searched for a long time for a recipe that I thought was rather healthy.  I ended up merging a couple because I liked aspects of like three different recipes.

3 cups old-fashioned oats
3/4 cup sunflower seeds (I like salted because the salty balances the sweet...only okay in this circumstance, click here to see my usual view on sweet and salty mixed)
1 cup sliced almonds
3/4 cup wheat germ
3/4 cup peanuts, broken up but not crushed (salty peanuts could work, too)
1/2 cup flax seed (I love finding little flax seeds in my teeth a few minutes after eating)

1/3 cup packed brown sugar
4 tbsp butter
2/3 cup honey
2 tsp vanilla extract

Optional: 1/2 cup of either raisins, craisins, other dried fruit or shredded coconut or mini chocolate chips (we like dark chocolate)....or a combination of things (i.e 1/2 cup of raisins and 1/2 cup of butterscotch chips...mmmm)

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees F. Butter or Pam a 9x13 pan.

Mix oatmeal, sunflower seeds, wheat germ, almonds, peanuts and flax seed on a cookie sheet and bake for 10-12 minutes stirring occasionally. Remove from oven and pour into mixing bowl.

Reduce oven heat to 300 degrees F.

Put honey, brown sugar, butter, vanilla and salt in a small pot and bring to a boil over medium heat and boil for about a minute. Then pour over oat and nut mixture in mixing bowl.  Add optional ingredients now. NOTE: I have not yet figured out how to make sure the chocolate doesn't melt...but I'll have to take a look.

Pour mixture into prepared 9x13. Using wax paper, lightly press the mixture into the pan, evenly. Bake this for 25 to 30 minutes.  Make sure that you allow the mixture to completely cool before you cut, or it will be crumbly.

I used two small pans for this batch

I cut them in chunks and wrap them in plastic wrap. I've thrown a couple in the fridge to make them cold.

The kids LOVE them. And it cuts out the breakfast fight.  I'm going to experiment with different things inside like cashews, macadamias, cut up dried mango, m&m's, sprinkles, agave instead of honey, canola oil instead of butter.

I'd love to know if you have a favorite granola bar recipe or your tips and tricks to making the morning smoother. I could use any help you have.

Don't you love it when on the way out the door your son says, "Oh, mom, I need a picture of when I was a baby."
"Really, by when?"
ARGHHHHHH - well, that's coming from the kid that got Student of the Month and detention on the same day last year.

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