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Family Fun
Family Fun

Making better after-school snacks

Somewhere between Oreos and braised oxtail stew lies the perfect after-school snack. Not too much sugar, not too much prep and not too likely to inspire turned up noses.

"An after-school snack should boost their fuel for whatever your kids are doing the rest of the day, whether it's homework or baseball," says Lisa Barnes, author of the Petit Appetit cookbooks, including "Eat, Drink, and Be Merry: Easy, Organic Snacks, Beverages, and Party Foods for Kids of All Ages" (Perigee Trade).

"Think of it as a mini-meal more than just a snack — equal parts fat and protein and carbs."

So if carrot sticks are your thing, add a side of hummus or white bean dip. If your kids devour apple slices, set out sunflower seed butter or yogurt for dipping.

Barnes also likes snacks that kids have a hand in preparing.

"A favorite one at my house is a parfait. They can layer plain yogurt, which they sweeten with a little maple syrup and cinnamon, chopped up berries or whatever fruit is in season and then some low-sugar cereal or granola or broken up graham crackers."

Make-your-own trail mix is another fave. "Put out a muffin tin and fill each cup with something different — raisins, dried cranberries, apricots, coconut, chocolate chips, broken up pretzels,"

Barnes suggests. Let them play mix-master with the ingredients.

If you want to kick it up a notch (you know, turn on the stove), Barnes likes this make-ahead granola recipe (found on Page 73 of "Eat, Drink, and Be Merry") for when she's hosting play dates.

Chewy granola bars

Prep: 15 minutes
Cook: 1-2 minutes
Makes: 16 2-inch bars

Ingredients:
1 1/3 cups rolled oats
1/2 cup raw sunflower seeds
1/2 cup oat bran
1 1/2 cups crisp brown rice cereal
1 cup dried cranberries
2 tablespoons crystallized ginger, chopped
1/2 cup brown rice syrup
1/4 cup turbinado sugar
1/2 teaspoon fine grain sea salt
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1. Grease an 8-inch square glass baking dish, and set aside.

2. Mix oats, seeds, oat bran, cereal, cranberries and ginger in a large bowl.

3. In a small saucepan, combine rice syrup, sugar and salt and cook over medium heat, stirring constantly until sugar melts, 1-2 minutes. Remove from heat; add vanilla.

4. Pour over the oat mixture and stir with a rubber spatula until all is moist and coated.

5. Spread mixture into prepared dish. Cover the mixture with a piece of parchment paper and press down firmly with your hands or a weight. Refrigerate if necessary to get the mixture to stay together. Let sit until firm, cut into pieces.

Nutrition information:
Per serving: 151 calories, 18% of calories from fat, 3 g fat, 0 g saturated fat, 0 mg cholesterol, 30 g carbohydrates, 3 g protein, 79 mg sodium, 3 g fiber.

hstevens@tribune.com

Copyright © 2015, CT Now
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