Thursday’s Dish: Energy Bars and GIVEAWAY

I know the benefits of getting kids into the kitchen: if they are involved in preparing and making their food, they are more likely to eat it, especially if the ingredients might be new or different (think vegetables). You can be “with” them during that critical time when dinner needs to get going. They can learn math without realizing it. They can become more self-sufficient. It’s an excuse to pry their eyeballs (and fingers) off screens. It helps kids appreciate that healthy foods don’t come out of a wrapper and actually take some time and effort to assemble. Even knowing all this, I still haven’t mustered up the energy to actually get around to doing it.

Enter ChopChop magazine. I first received a copy a few years back when attending an event hosted by Stoneyfield Yogurt. Then, I read about it again in a Costco Connections magazine (yes, I’ll admit I’m one of “those” Costco people!) Now that my son is a little older, I’m going to check it out again, in the hopes of seeing some of the benefits I already mentioned.

ChopChop is a quarterly food magazine and website for kids aged 5-12 and their families with a mission to educate kids to cook and be nutritionally literate, empower them to actively participate as health partners with their families, and help establish and support better eating habits for a lifetime of good nutrition. The site has tons of recipes, written in kid-friendly language, which you can sort by recipe type (breakfast, lunch, dinner, drinks, desserts and “quick fixes”) and key ingredient. If you prefer to keep dirty and/or sticky hands away from the computer screen, you can also print out the recipes. The magazine has no advertising and also features games and activities.

Founder Sally Sampson is a chef and the author of 22 cookbooks. She got the idea for ChopChop when her daughter was diagnosed with a rare, chronic illness and she found herself forced to navigate a new and frustrating world — the world of doctors, nurses, hospitals and specialists — and provide healthy and nourishing food for her.

Initially, Sally intended to hand out pamphlets at doctors offices with healthy, fun recipes. Now, her idea has grown into a publication recognized as a National Strategic Partner of the USDA and she and her team are hard at work on a cookbook which will be released next spring.

Thanks to Sally and her team for sharing their Energy Bars recipe with us and a one-year subscription to ChopChop magazine (normally $14.95) to give away to one of our lucky readers. Be sure to fill out the form below to enter!

Energy Bars

These fruit-and-nut bars are super-easy to make (no adult needed!) and easy to adapt to your own tastes. Love pecans? Use all pecans. More of a mixed-nut person? Use mixed nuts. Keep trying these bars with different ingredients: we also like toasted sesame seeds, sunflower seeds, and/or pumpkin seeds in place of some of the nuts. We’re not sure why, but every now and then these don’t turn out quite right-they’re crumbly instead of firm. If this happens, use it as a fruit or yogurt topping, and call it “granola!”

Equipment
Cutting board
8 x 8-inch pan
Wax or parchment paper
Measuring cup
Measuring spoons
Medium-sized bowl
Small bowlAdvertisementLarge spoon
Dinner knife
Plastic wrap

Ingredients

  • 1⁄2 cup lightly toasted nuts (one kind or a combination of almonds, walnuts, and pecans. To toast nuts, put them on a small baking sheet in a 350-degree oven until they are fragrant and look a shade darker, around 5 minutes)
  • 3⁄4 cup dried fruit (one kind or a combination of raisins, currants, dried cranberries or chopped dates, prunes, apricots, and peaches)
  • 3⁄4 cup quick-cooking oats
  • 3⁄4 cup crispy-rice cereal
  • 2 tablespoons unsweetened coconut (if you like)
  • 1⁄2 cup almond or peanut butter
  • 1⁄4 cup honey or maple syrup
  • 1⁄2 teaspoon vanilla extract

Instructions
Wash your hands with soap and water, then gather all your kitchen gear and ingredients and put them on a clean counter.

  1. Line the pan with wax or parchment paper and leave enough hanging so that you can use it to cover the bars later. (You will need a piece a little more than twice the size of the bottom of the pan.)
  2. Put the nuts, dried fruit, oats, rice cereal, and coconut in the bowl and toss well.
  3. Put the almond or peanut butter and honey in the small bowl and microwave until the almond butter is softened, about 30 seconds (depending on your microwave). Stir until smooth. Add the vanilla and stir again until smooth.
  4. Pour the almond mixture into the large bowl and mix with the large spoon until well combined.
  5. Dump the mixture into the prepared pan and pat down as hard as you can. You want to make the bars solid (rather than airy). Using the overhanging wax paper, cover the bars completely. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate at least 4 hours and up to one week.
  6. Using the knife, cut into 16 pieces.

GIVEAWAY: One lucky winner will receive a one-year subscription to ChopChop magazine. Only one entry per household, please. Must be at least 18 years of age to enter. No purchase necessary. The giveaway holds no cash value.

What do you have to do to win? Leave a comment below or fill out the form by 9:00am CST on Thursday, October 11th, 2012 . The winner will be notified by email and given 24 hours to respond to claim the subscription. By leaving a comment or filling out the form, you agree to the above terms and conditions.

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About Nicole Basham 793 Articles
A native Austinite and soccer-playing mom, Nicole uses her 10-year-old son as an excuse to rediscover her hometown through his eyes. In Thoreau's words, her mission is to "suck out all the marrow of life", or in her son's words, to cultivate in him a love of "advenchers".

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