Janine Gilbertson's Granite Kitchen: Snack attack

By JANINE GILBERTSON September 04. 2018 10:31PM
No-bake cereal bars (JANINE GILBERTSON)

It’s back to school time and for many parents that means another year of packing nutritious lunches and snacks to keep kids going through their busy days.

When I was a substitute teacher I was always curious to see what kids brought in for snacks.

In the elementary grades, there were lots of packaged snacks like cheese crackers and chips and plenty of juice boxes. Some kids would have cut-up fruit or vegetables or little cups of yogurt.

When I had to pack snacks for my kids, I would buy little containers and fill them with Greek yogurt, then add a couple of spoonfuls of an all-natural jam or jelly and top it with a little granola. I started doing this after I began reading labels and realized many yogurts contained lots of sugar, and to avoid the extra sugar you had a buy a yogurt that likely contained artificial sweeteners.

I recently started making my own granola, which is no more complicated than spreading some oats on a baking sheet and adding some nuts, seeds or dried fruits with some spices and coconut oil. Bake it in the oven for about 15 minutes (your kitchen will smell marvelous) and you’re done. The nice thing about making your own granola is that you can control the ingredients and forgo the preservatives and sugar found in many big food company granolas (not to mention you can make lots of granola for the fraction of the price of a store bought granola.)

If you make your own granola, you can easily make your own granola bars too. I like to make cereal bars and use up the last bits of cereal kicking around in the pantry and toss in any leftover trail mix or dried fruit.

A marshmallow mix binds it together as though you’re making rice crispy treats. I’ve switched the marshmallows to an organic brand I found that has ingredients I can pronounce, even though they’re pricey.

For after school time, having whole wheat pizza dough on hand can make whipping up a quick snack easy, especially if say, your teenage son brings over a bunch of his buddies to “study.” Pizza dough is not just for pizza — you can make calzones, rolls, breadsticks, and other dishes with little effort.

I like to buy fresh dough at the grocery store and usually stick to whole wheat. My latest creation was to make cheddar rolls from whole wheat dough with a sage and herb cheddar and a little ground flax seed, along with some spices. They were delicious. They were no overloaded with cheese and you would never know they were made from pizza dough.

While making them I also discovered another little tasty snack. The cheddar cheese that melted on the baking sheet was crunchy and yummy, so I grated some little piles onto parchment paper and stuck the baking sheet in the oven. Voila! Cheddar crisps. They make a great snack and are a delicious garnish for salads.

No-Bake Cereal Bars

2 c. cereal, such as cheerios

4 c. marshmallows

3 T. butter

1 tsp. vanilla

1/2 c. dried cranberries or raisins

1/4 c. chopped almonds

1 1/2 c. granola

2 T. chia or other seeds

Add marshmallows, vanilla and butter to a large pot and set over medium high heat. Cook, stirring frequently until the marshmallows are melted, then stir in the remaining ingredients. Press the mixture into an 8x8 in non-stick baking dish (you can use wax paper to cover the top while pressing firmly) and allow to cool for an hour before cutting and serving.

Easy Cinnamon Granola

Easy Cinnamon Granola

3 c. old-fashioned rolled oats

1 1/2 c. raw nuts such as chopped pecans

3 T. chia seeds

1 tsp. sea salt 

2 tsp. cinnamon

1/4 c. coconut oil 

1/4 c. honey

1/2 c. dried fruit, such as cranberries

Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and preheat an oven to 350 degrees.

Add oats, nuts and dried fruit to a large bowl. Add the coconut oil, cinnamon, chia seeds, honey and salt and mix well to combine. Spread the mixture evenly on the parchment paper, then set in the oven to bake for 15 minutes. Remove from oven and allow to cool. 

Cheddar Wheat Biscuit

Cheddar Wheat Biscuit

1 package store-bought whole wheat pizza dough

1 T. ground flax seed

1 c. grated cheddar, such as sage and herb

2 tsp. seasoning mix, such as Carolina Dirt

Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Divide dough into 8 even pieces. Working with one piece at a time, make a depression in the center of the dough and add about a teaspoon of cheddar, then sprinkle with a little flax. Roll the dough into a ball and sprinkle more cheddar on the top, then sprinkle with seasoning. Set on the baking sheet and repeat with remaining dough. Set in an oven preheated to 375 degrees and bake for 15 minutes, or until light golden brown. 

Cheddar Crisps

Cheddar Crisps

2 c. grated good quality cheddar cheese

1/2 tsp. sea salt

Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Take a heaping tablespoon of cheddar and mound it on the parchment. Repeat with remaining cheddar, allowing at least two inches between mounds because the cheddar with spread as it melts. Place in an oven preheated to 400 degrees. Bake for about 5 minutes, until the cheddar has melted and is slightly browned. Remove from oven and allow to cool before serving. 


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