Snack time is a crucial part of kindergarten for a variety of reasons. In the eyes of a teacher, snack is a tool for ensuring cooperative classroom behavior; a hungry kid is a cranky, uncooperative kid. A small snack gives a necessary energy boost to kids who are dragging after a long morning of learning and playing. It also acts as a transition time between activities--something for the children to count on and look forward to in the middle of the schedule.
Furthermore, eating snack as a community provides a space for children to practice interacting and talking with each other, one of the skills deemed most important in kindergarten curriculum. It is also an opportunity for adults to model healthy eating choices and practices. For students who might not see healthy food habits at home, snack provides a forum to help children understand what kinds of foods are good for us and how important it is to set aside specific time to eat, among other practices.
As adults, we would do well to take advice from these kindergarteners about how to eat. We wouldn’t allow a 5-year-old to only drink coffee for breakfast; we would reprimand him/her for standing up while eating, let alone running around the house or driving. We teach our students that too much sugar or salt or fat is unhealthy, and then we turn around and eat foods chock full of artificial flavors, unnatural ingredients and minimal nutrients. (Think: Doritos, chewy granola bars, and Diet Coke.)
Finding healthy, inexpensive, easy snacks, whether for a classroom of students or for busy adults, is not an easy task. Below is a recipe for low-fat granola bars that you can make at home. This is an excellent way to pack fruit into your picky eaters’ diets, and a sneaky way for you to get iron--a nutrient that is especially beneficial to women.
Easy Snack Time Granola Bars
(adapted from www.greenfootsteps.com)
¼ cup vegetable oil
¼ cup honey
¼ cup black strap molasses
¾ - 1 cup assorted nuts or seeds, chopped (I prefer almonds and peanuts)
¾ - 1 cup assorted dried fruit (I use raisins, craisins and dried apricots)
1 cup rolled oats
Cinnamon to taste
1. Mix oil, honey and molasses
2. Add nuts to mixture. Make sure they are chopped into small, even pieces
3. Add oats and mix well
4. Press mixture into bottom of greased pan/tray
5. Bake uncovered at 325° for 25 – 30 minutes, turning pan periodically
6. Remove from oven and add dried fruit
7. Carefully cut into bar sized pieces and let cool
Not only is this snack a natural alternative to store-bought granola bars, but it’s also high in Vitamin A, E, iron, and protein. Enjoy! Report back with your own substitutions and combinations!