Back to School: Healthy After-School Snack

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September 23rd, 2010

Summer has come to an end, which means no more late-night sleepovers eating popcorn or TV veg outs. Kids are back to hitting the books and busy with after-school activities, but this doesn’t mean they should compromise healthy snacks for a fast-food fix. Crunchy maple granola is a great healthy go-to snack to satisfy your hungry bunch in a hurry.

In addition to being tasty and convenient, granola is an excellent sensory savvy snack that gives kids lasting power to sustain through class and during after-school activities. Occupational therapy consultants recommend these smart snacks to help kids stay alert and focused without suffering from restless or hyper behavior.

When making the granola, it’s fun to mix things up by adding in other flavorsome ingredients like cranberries, walnuts, and maybe a touch of chocolate chips for a small treat. If you are in the mood for some family cooking after school, give these a whirl: Raspberry and Blueberry Salads, Berry Ice Pops, or Banana Muffins.

Roll up those sleeves, grab a spoon and bowl-and start mixing!

Crunchy Maple Granola

Yield: 12 cups

Ingredients

  • 12 cups Old Fashioned Oats (not instant)
  • 1 ½ cups slivered almonds
  • 1 ½ cups pecan pieces
  • 3 cups pure Canadian maple syrup – Grade B or A both work well
  • 4 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • 3 teaspoons salt
  • 2 cups dried fruit, such as blueberries, cherries, strawberries and raisins

Directions

Preheat convection oven to 275°. Pour oats and nuts in large mixing bowl. Set aside.

Heat pure Canadian maple syrup and salt in non-reactive pot until boiling point. Immediately turn off heat. Stir in vanilla extract.

Working quickly, pour maple syrup mixture over oats and nuts. Using a rubber spatula, gently stir until oats are thoroughly coated. Pour onto on baking sheets lined with silpat. The granola should not be spread even or patted down. Using your hands, scrunch the granola into large piles clumps.

Bake in convection oven 35 to 40 minutes at 275°, rotating 4 times, until golden and crunchy. Remove from oven. Let stand 5 minutes. Using a spatula with a sharp edge, carefully turn granola over – making every effort to retain giant pieces and large clumps. Place back in oven for 5-7 minutes or until crisp.

Remove from oven, cool completely. Stir in dried fruit. Serve.

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