Sunday, May 22, 2011

I Got the Hippie Hippie Shakes

Hethyr:  Prior to student teaching and becoming a teacher at Manitou Elementary, Jon worked as a para-educator at Ute Pass Elementary.  It’s a great little school in the Manitou Springs school district and we’ve gotten to know the staff quite well over the last few years.  They really create a fun atmosphere for the kids.  I remember when Jon first started working there, he came home chuckling one day about a reading challenge that was taking place.  There was a map of the United States on one of the bulletin boards and pinned to the state of Colorado was a Volkswagen bus and it was pointed West.  As the kids logged reading hours, the van would inch closer and closer to California, and more specifically San Francisco.  Once there, the whole school would have a “hippie” party where everyone dressed like hippies and they had music, hula-hooping, food, drinks and, I’m sure, lots of recess.

I still talk to the P.E. Teacher often on Facebook and Twitter and she recently asked me to participate in their first “Health Jam” where vendors are set up and classes and parents rotate through to see demonstrations and displays pertaining to health and fitness.  I knew I wanted my demonstration to be something that would hold the kids’ attention while also being interesting for the parents and teachers.  To me, that means hands-on, easy, tasty food for the kids and information for the parents on keeping their families healthy and happy.

Nephews, Ashyr & Roc, making granola bars
So, for this “hippie” school, I decided a “granola” presentation was appropriate.  I’ve been making my own granola bars since I decided that boxed bars are too pricey for what you get and unacceptable in terms of ingredients.  I can't even pronounce some of them.  I know exactly what goes into my bars and that they’re inexpensive and incredibly easy to make.  Aside from using the oven, a kid could make this recipe entirely on his/her own.  For the demo, I plan on asking for student volunteers and having them actually make these granola bars.  It should be very entertaining for the adults!  ;)

A couple of things worth noting:
We wonder why kids are
addicted to sugar...

1)  Boxed granola bars are loaded with sugar in lots of different forms.  For example, on Wal-Mart’s Great Value Chocolate Chunk Chewy Granola Bars ingredients list, you can find sugar in the first ingredient (granola), sugar as the second ingredient, sugar in a couple of different forms in the chocolate, corn syrup solids, sugar (yes, again on it’s own), high fructose corn syrup and fructose.  So, sugar is listed eight separate times on the ingredients list.  Wow.

2)  Boxed bars contain ingredients of unknown origin (at least to us!).  We found an ingredient called “crisp syrup” on the same ingredients list.  We Googled it and came up with nothing.  WTF is this stuff?  Not to mention “BHT (a preservative).”  Another quote from the ingredients list:  “May contain traces of almonds, pecans, walnuts and peanuts.”  MAY contain?  As in they don’t know?  That’s messed up.  Again, I know exactly what is in my granola bars!  I even throw in a little dark chocolate and organic dried fruit for good measure.

Boxed bar=size of Jon's
middle finger
Mine=bigger & MUCH better
3)  Size does matter!  The same store-bought bars are less than half the size of my homemade ones (although you can certainly determine your ideal size for yourself… nah, I’ll let that one go).  That’s about the size of Jon’s middle finger (see picture at left).  When you buy their bars, that’s essentially the message they’re sending you.  So why not send the message right back by refusing to buy them anymore and by taking a step toward self-sufficiency and making your own?

These granola bars, just like most of my other recipes, are very versatile.  If you tire of dark chocolate, you're sick... oops, I mean try other kinds of chips such as milk or white chocolate, peanut butter chips, etc.  Mix up the fruit and/or nuts or make up different combos such as "tropical" using dried pineapple, large coconut flakes and chopped macadamia nuts.  Or "autumn" using fall spices, dried apples, cranberries and walnuts.  Use your imagination and the possibilities become infinite.  And you'll never have to buy icky boxed bars again!

Chewy Granola Bars
Makes 16 bars (or 32 if you want their size)
  • 2 1/2 cups quick rolled oats
  • 1/2 cup brown rice crisp cereal
  • 1/4 cup coconut flakes
  • 1/2 cup dark chocolate chips, chopped
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup butter, melted
  • 6 tablespoons honey
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 cup dried fruit, chopped OR 1/2 cup dried fruit, chopped + 1/2 cup nuts, chopped

Preheat oven to 350°F.  Grease a 9-inch x 13-inch baking dish with butter or cooking spray.  Set aside.

Grease hands to keep
granola from sticking
In a large bowl, stir together oats, brown rice cereal, coconut flakes, chocolate chips and salt.  Add brown sugar, melted butter, honey and vanilla and mix well.  Stir in dried fruit and nuts (if using).

Pour mixture into the greased baking dish and, with greased hands, press down firmly and evenly.

Bake at 350°F for approximately 18 minutes or until golden brown.  Remove from oven and let cool for 10 minutes.  Score into 16 bars, then let cool completely.  Once set, finish cutting bars the rest of the way through.

NOTE:  Can easily be halved and baked in an 8-inch x 8-inch pan.

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Jon:  What’s not to love about granola bars?  The Urban Dictionary has seven definitions for “granola.”  Some of the highlights include…

“A person who dresses like a hippy, eats natural foods (granola), and is usually a Liberal, but in all other ways is a typical middle class white person, and is likely to revert back to being straight when they finish college.”

“A tree hugging, free spirited hippie minus all the drugs.”

“earthy crunchy, nature valley, au natural, plain jane, somewhat dirty and unkempt, and in need of a shower.”

Need to hear it used in a sentence to truly understand?  I thought so.  Here are a couple of helpful examples…

“Did you see that granola chick at the farmer’s market buying bean sprouts?  Yeah, her new Volvo was parked next to me.”

“That chick doesn’t shave her armpits; she’s hella granola.”

cub_handsign_lgSo I guess if we take the Urban Dictionary to be law (which we clearly should), granola bars are free-spirited, tree-hugging, earth-conscious, natural edibles.  But they also happen to have just enough style and class to appease those uppity types who like to shower regularly.  They've got the whole package.  Let's face it, if a granola bar were a person, it’d be Johnny Depp.

One of the best things about Hethyr’s granola bars is that they are a little different every time.  Since you can use any type of dried fruits, chocolates, nuts, and whatever other ingredients, your bars can have a great variety of flavors.  One of the other best things about Hethyr's granola bars are that they taste freakin' amazing.  The portability is nice, too.  I often have one or two during snack time right after recess.  Yep, that's right.  I still have snack time and recess.  And all the kids are jealous of my granola bars.


  1. I absolutetly LOVE your blog! I don't know why I can't always 'think outside the box', but a tropical granola bar sounds like a dream come true. And I can make my own!?!? Well, duh!

    But I still have one question . . . are you two technically 'granolas'?

  2. Thanks for coming to our school Hethyr!

  3. Dani, what a fun morning with the kids! Thanks for having me! =)

  4. Yes! One less pre-packaged high fructose corn syrup-containing item on my grocery list! My 3 year old is addicted to those store-bought granola bars and I've tried to make them before from other recipes, but they always turned out unpleasantly dense. I just made your recipe yesterday and they are perfect!!! Thank you!

  5. Leigh, I am so glad your kiddo likes them. I went through endless recipes trying to get the right consistency but I finally found it! I love that these are yummy for kids and adults alike. =)

  6. Madison (after her tongue accident) has become obsessed with granola bars. She eats one when she first wakes up and one right before bed, if she can help it. She even taught herself to unwrap them - so based upon how many have been disappearing - she eats them all day long. She has been begging me to make granola bars, and while I have made granola, this recipe is going to take all the guesswork out. Thanks Hethyr (and Jon)! - Jamie

  7. I made these for "healthy snack time" at work today and everyone loved them. I used raisins and peanuts and they were absolutely delish! You will probably soon have some new blog readers pretty soon - I had several requests for the recipe. =)