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Chewy Granola Bars

Chewy+Granola+Bars+3

Sorry guys, Monday slid straight into Friday again. And October 1? For real?

I just arrived home from a day in Kelowna, touring apple orchards, getting to know some growers – including the couple who twenty years ago came across a seedling amongst their plum trees that eventually bore what we now know as Ambrosia apples. We ate lunch at Grey Monk – and I can’t wait to tell you about all of it, but there are far too many photos to sort through, and I don’t have confidence in my eyelids to stay open.

Besides, it occurred to me that I haven’t even brought you up to speed on Monday yet. Monday I spent the afternoon with a team of volunteers from PricewaterhouseCoopers making homemade lunchbox treats at Brown Bagging It for Calgary’s Kids, an organization that has been feeding kids who go to school without lunches for the past 14 years. They make and deliver – all by volunteer – about 1500 lunches per day. (Lunches provided in the month of September: 61,027.) They’ve made deliveries to every area of the city – it’s not an issue isolated to a handful of neighbourhoods. They’ve delivered to Rideau Park and Pump Hill. Lunches go to whomever needs them – no paperwork or requirements, no questions.

Can you imagine the efforts that go into coordinating, making and delivering that many lunches daily? They rely on private donations, do a lot of fundraising and have plenty of dedicated volunteers – about 50 regulars (some who come in to help out before going to work) and even more who come occasionally to help out in their downtown kitchen, or take on deliveries.

But ultimately it would be great if the city didn’t need such an organization to fill the gaps, don’t you think? BB4CK’s goal is to be out of business; their new initiative is to help each community create sustainable solutions to the problem, making arrangements to feed those kids who need it, whether it be by a few community members, parents sending an extra lunch with their kids, or any other scenario that works. There are plenty of people doing this already – students at one school making lunches for kids at another, groups of grandmothers gathering to make lunches on a regular basis, churches collecting food for nearby schools, and corporations pitching in to take on lunches so that BB4CK doesn’t have to. I know of at least one school that does try to take it on itself, and spends $1000 per month on food for spare lunches. Knowing how tight public school budgets already are, that must seriously drain resources for other school equipment and activities.

If we all pitched in just a bit, it would alleviate this need altogether. We as communities could easily ensure Calgary kids don’t ever spend a day hungry at school, don’t you think? W goes to Ramsay School, a small (ninetysomething students in the entire school) inner-city school in a 100 year old sandstone building that has lots of character and is one hub of a particularly close-knit community. I’d hate to think any of those kids are going hungry at lunchtime. And so on Monday when I take W to school, I’m going to ask how often this is an issue and what we can do about it. It seems to me if we sent the occasional extra lunch, and maybe set up a collection box of sorts – a Lunch Bank? – into which any parent (or community member) could drop a bag of apples or a batch or box of something or other anytime, then it would be there for those kids who need it when they need it. Can you imagine the impact we’d have if we all just chipped in a little?

Getting off my soapbox now. Right-the granola bars we made. They’re thick and chewy and use No Nuts Golden Peabutter, an Alberta product BB4CK has been supporting for years, which itself is pretty cool. (You could use peanut butter instead.)

Chewy+Granola+Bars

These thick granola bars can be customized with any kind of nuts, seeds and dried fruit your kids like, in any proportion. If you don’t have oat flour, make some by processing oats in a food processor until powdery, or try substituting brown rice or quinoa flour.

Chewy Granola Bars

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October 1, 2010

Ingredients

1 3/4 cups quick rolled oats, barley flakes, or a combination

1/2 cup packed brown sugar

1/3 cup oat flour

1/2 tsp. salt

1/4 tsp. cinnamon

2-3 cups chopped dried fruit, nuts and seeds

1/3 cup canola oil

1/3 cup golden pea butter, peanut butter or another nut butter

1/3 cup liquid honey, maple syrup or corn syrup

2 tsp. vanilla

Directions

1Preheat the oven to 350°F and spray an 8"x8" pan with nonstick spray.

2In a large bowl, stir together the oats, brown sugar, oat flour, salt and cinnamon. Stir in the dried fruit, nuts and seeds.

3In a small bowl, whisk together the canola oil, nut butter, honey and vanilla. Add to the dry ingredients and stir until well blended and crumbly. Press into the prepared pan.

4Bake for 30-35 minutes, until golden around the edges.

5 Cool completely in the pan on a wire rack before cutting into bars.

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33 comments on “Chewy Granola Bars

  1. Haley
    October 1, 2010 at 11:47 pm

    What a great cause!
    On a more selfish note- 2 years ago I made a perfect granola bar. It was the perfect ratio of chewy oatmeal to chocolate chip and raisin. Tragically I lost my recipe source in that swirling-void-recipe-cyber-land of the internet and have been granola barring in vain ever since. This looks like a good contender.

  2. Cathy N in Inglewood Calgary
    October 2, 2010 at 6:54 am

    Thank you, Julie, for being such a caring person and putting forward constructive ideas! Our lives get so busy we often forget the little ones out there who need “the village to raise” them 🙂
    Love the peabutter idea – I keep forgetting about it, but must give a go sometime!

  3. Danielle
    October 2, 2010 at 9:20 am

    I’ve been making homemade granola bars for our house lately. Love how easy they are to customize (my current batch has dried blueberries, currants, chopped almonds, and choc chips).

  4. Sharon
    October 2, 2010 at 11:20 am

    I can’t think of anything worse than being the kid who has to pick up a charity lunch. Maybe it’s my generation, but I would rather do without lunch. And did. I’m speaking from experience, at being the “one”. A spare lunch would be a world of humiliation.

    Sorry to be the one dissenter here. I know your heart is good Julie, and the “spare” lunch makers want to do good too.

    Feed all the kids, no questions asked, no qualifying.

  5. JulieVR
    October 2, 2010 at 11:46 am

    It’s funny how many feelings are associated with school lunch. I felt like a loser having a big old woody carrot in my lunch instead of Fruit Roll-Ups, but now I can appreciate my parents’ efforts. I’m sure there is a wide range of feelings about receiving a donated lunch, and not all kids feel the same way about it. At least there is food available for those who need (or want) it, rather than no lunch option at all.

    There was a great story in Avenue last year on BB4CK – you can see it here – http://www.avenuecalgary.com/articles/page/item/charity-profile-brown-bagging-for-calgarys-kids – here’s an excerpt:

    “We had one school where we delivered lunches, and the lunchroom supervisor put all the lunches on a table so the kids who needed them could help themselves,” recalls Switzer. “At first I thought, ‘Oh no, these kids are going to be singled out.’ But the kids didn’t see it that way at all. They saw it as a sharing table, and also added things to it that were extra or that they didn’t want. There’s no way I could have administrated something like that. It had to happen organically, as so many of these solutions do.”

    My first reaction to this idea was that my niece and nephew would see a sharing table as a way to get rid of whatever was in their lunch that they didn’t want to eat, and not get in trouble for having it show up back at home in their lunch bags! I guess it’s really a matter of coming up with a solution that works within each community.

  6. Anonymous
    October 2, 2010 at 12:42 pm

    I think at first, the child will eat. The giving child will feel compassion. Then, they will begin to feel resentment, both of them. 1.) Feed all the children with a cafeteria or whatever can be arranged by the school board. 2)Show the children how to feed themselves, instead of giving. I imagine the parents feel fairly humiliated and resentful too, even if they are too polite to say so, or have it be seen. It’s there. If all children are fed at school, it becomes a non-issue. Eat, study. This way, there’s something else packed in that bag.

    I’ll not comment further on this, here.

  7. Sharon
    October 2, 2010 at 12:43 pm

    That was me, above.

  8. Jennifer Belanger
    October 2, 2010 at 1:38 pm

    A very interesting issue. My Mother works at one Calgary public school where sharing foods is a no-no. Too many allergies have led the school to create this rule. However, if the supervisors notice someone without a lunch or are approached by a hungry kiddo, there are rations to help them out. All are allergy safe (think plain rice cakes, fruit cups etc). If a child is noticed to use this ‘spare’ food more than once, the parents are contact to find out the circumstances. Sometimes it is found that the child does not like what is packed, forgot the lunch or more unfortunately, that there is no food in the house. Hampers can be arranged and then the child can bring a lunch from home.

    I don’t know what the ‘best’ solution is. Sometimes no lunch is the only thing visible of a much greater problem. No lunch, perhaps no dinner? What about breakfast?

    During a practicum for nursing studies (now a few years in my past) I worked at a school where a breakfast program was initiated. Wonderful things occured once tummies were full.

    Interesting to think about. Better to find solutions for.

    Thanks for the dialogue!

  9. Barb
    October 2, 2010 at 3:10 pm

    Great ideas Julie. First breakfast for learning, then help with luches, … makes you wonder if they get supper either?

  10. eddy
    October 2, 2010 at 8:07 pm

    I am really liking your effort! But I have to tell you that I work in a grocery store in a low-income area . It is absolutely amazing what people put in their shopping carts. You have two or three obese children following two obese parents with one liter of milk and eight liters of coca-cola. Because anything that is remotely within their price range is totally manufactured with huge amounts of salt and fat and sugar.It is heartbreaking!

  11. molly
    October 2, 2010 at 8:25 pm

    oh, i think i need these in my life…

  12. Kathryn
    October 2, 2010 at 9:36 pm

    My kids attend a small inner city school to which brown bag lunches are delivered. I discovered this service when, in Grade 2, my daughter’s sandwich was knocked off her desk and fell apart. The supervisor gave her a spare sandwich made with baloney (first time tasting baloney) which she loved. The next day, my daughter’s thermos of soup tipped. Another baloney sandwich. The next day, her crackers and salmon dropped on the floor and she stepped on them! Another baloney sandwich. After speaking with the lunch supervisors and figuring out her con job, we had to have a stern talk with her about why exactly those extra lunches are in that school!

    I’ll be interested in hearing what W’s school has to say about developing a “lunch bank”. Our school’s lunch supervisors are stretched pretty thin and I’m not sure how they administer those spare lunches. They do keep an eye on what the kids are eating. No sharing (allergies) and nobody is allowed to throw out their garbage (well, apple cores and stuff go to the worm compost bins in each class). Every night I dissect the lunch kits to figure out what was eaten that day. It’s like CSI in the kitchen.

  13. Jaya
    October 2, 2010 at 10:22 pm

    Wow. This is a really interesting set of comments! I really appreciate seeing this from several (informative and informed) perspectives. That said, I just want to say that I have no idea how you keep producing awesome blog posts alongside everything else you do. If no one has said it to you recently, Julie I really appreciate you!
    I don’t comment often, but I visit regularly 🙂

  14. Mar Hein
    October 2, 2010 at 10:55 pm

    where do i get barley flakes from??

  15. JulieVR
    October 2, 2010 at 11:54 pm

    Mar – I get them from the bulk section of Community Natural Foods!

  16. Jess
    October 3, 2010 at 1:20 pm

    I like the way you think, Julie. And the way you bake, too, of course.

  17. Donna
    October 3, 2010 at 8:18 pm

    Those look like great granola bars.
    I’m for any lunch delivery method that gets kids to eat healthy lunches.
    Does anyone know if there is a local source for a Victorio Food Strainer ?A friend has one and I have been looking for a year or more.

  18. Manon from ONtario
    October 3, 2010 at 9:43 pm

    OMG Julie!!! Eric’s slow cooked pulled beef was a HIT tonight with everyone…they said, Maman it tastes like ribs….THANK YOU, they won’t eat roast beef anymore….

    Love your blog…very touchy subject eh!
    I was one of those kids with NO or very little lunch some days, as my Mother was a widower, depressed, poor, and lacking management skills on how to manage money for food….
    I remember sitting in front of a brother and sister with amazingly prepared lunches, a brown bread healthy sandwich, and this was in the 1976’s, cut up carrots, celery, cheese, crackers, sometimes soup, grapes, apple, like amazing lunches…and over here I had a “mustard” sandwich…or jam sandwich with an apple….and that was lunch…sometimes none 🙁

    Being a child with an empty stomach was hard…I was hungry…I would of loved to have a free sandwich or soup…with fruit, cheese…you know…just something to fill my empty tummy. Something I could of grabbed on a table, there for sharing would have been nice.

    Anyways, have a great week Julie, love your blog 🙂

  19. Cathy
    October 4, 2010 at 9:12 am

    BB4CK was our charity of choice for Tonic 2009. I love what they do. I’ve been down there making sandwiches!

    I think most schools do a great job of being “casual” about it – if you don’t have a lunch then take one. And they know when it’s a bigger challenge than just a forgotten one.

    I don’t see it as a “world of humiliation” or whatever else. Kids need to eat. Simple.

    Sign me up for whatever you spearhead for Ramsay.

  20. Ashley
    October 4, 2010 at 9:03 pm

    Our food bank here in Orlando, FL does a weekend packed lunch program for kids who get free lunch at school because they were realizing that sometimes, the free lunch at school was one of the only meals the kids were getting. They pack things like fruit cups, easy open canned ravioli or soup and granola bars and put them in the kids backpacks on Friday afternoons so no one knows that they’re getting them. Its really sad to think that there are so many kids going hungry in one of the richest nations in the world.

  21. Sharon
    October 5, 2010 at 1:59 am

    Here is part of what I received in response to my questions put to this bag lunch organization:

    “We are completely opposed to any universal lunch program because it only serves to dis-empower individuals and families and create entitlement. Our position is that if we provide a hand up, people will find their own way to become self sufficient(…).”

    “We do not accept government funds to feed kids because we believe that this issue is not a government responsibility. We believe that every Albertan, given the opportunity and circumstances will take care of themselves, their family and their community.”

    (…)

    “Poverty and social circumstance are relative not absolute. They should be temporary rather than permanent and are only perpetuated and exascerbated by the prisons of entitlement that governments continue to create. Government should be the last recourse not the first for many reasons not the least of which is that it absolves each of us of personal responsibility.”

    I feel sick to my stomach reading this. This is the unseen item packed in the bag lunch.

  22. Anonymous
    October 5, 2010 at 9:35 am

    Brown Bagging feeds kids that are hungry. It is done with love and dignity. Kids need to eat healthy food to grow and reach their potential.
    Brown Bagging also wants to be a catalyst for community solutions and yes, the labor of love of a lunch is one tool to do this.
    Ask yourself, “if your brother’s child was hungry, what would you do?”
    I want to live in a community that cares for eachother. I want to live in a commuity that values and teaches love, sharing, and caring rather than lack of responsibility, fear and liability.
    We need to take responsibility and accountablity for our lives and empower those struggling to do their best, to do the same.
    How do you feel when someone does something nice for you???
    It makes you feel good and in that place of goodness helps you thru possibilty a tough time and a defining moment of your life.

  23. Sharon
    October 7, 2010 at 7:31 am

    Perhaps Brown Bagging could turn its attention to the issue of casinos, parents who are in there gambling with the family food budget and neighbourhood schools which benefit from money raised through the addiction of the parents of those lucky kids getting a bag lunch. There must be a better way.

  24. Sharon
    October 7, 2010 at 8:11 am

    I wasn’t aware of this, but how serendipitous. The government would rather we fed kids at school with money raised on misery. Comming soon to a community school near you, a fund-raising day a the neighbourhood liquor depot.

    It is government responibility to provide school lunches. It’s a major learning aide, to have a full tummy. We are the government, and we funds roads for everyone, whether I drive that way or not, we fund healthcare (ooops, maybe spoke too soon). If parents want to get involved in the school let them do so, but not in a way that insinuates poverty is temporary if “we” just show “them” how it’s done. That’s what I read in the BB mandate.

    http://edmonton.ctv.ca/servlet/an/local/CTVNews/20101006/edm_fees_101006/20101006/?hub=EdmontonHome

  25. Kathryn
    October 7, 2010 at 11:31 pm

    Um, I think you’re reading ALOT into that BB4CK mandate! They provide brown bag lunches to schools for kids who don’t have lunch that day, for whatever reason.

    Why on earth would the government provide lunches for every single kid in the school system?

    I’m not sure how casino money and an imaginary liquor fundraiser got mixed up into this discussion. BB4CK is a private organization. Casino monies go towards those little “extras” that government funding doesn’t stretch to cover. Little things like a fax machine for the school office.

    If you want to get angry about something, ask why a school must purchase equipment through the official Calgary Board of Education supplier. Last spring our Parent Council used fundraising money to purchase a $350 fax machine through the CBE equipment supplier, after the old one broke. The same model is at Costco for $120 but the school was not allowed to purchase that one. We had to use fundraising money because there was no money left in the school budget for that extra expense.

  26. Sharon
    October 8, 2010 at 12:24 pm

    Casino fund raising is unethical. We’re burning someone else’s life for a fax machine and the like? How that got into this is we can’t have it both ways; we’re such socially responsible people that we provide some bag lunches. But then again, … .

    As for BB, they are not a “private organization” They are a registered charity and get tax breaks from that. From the government. And, the corporations who back them get tax write-offs. BB claims they don’t take government money. They do. They say taking government money is “prisons of entitlement that governments continue to create. Government should be the last recourse not the first for many reasons not the least of which is that it absolves each of us of personal responsibility.”

    There are schools in Alberta (and elsewhere in Canada) that have cafeterias. Everyone gets fed. Some buy, and there are privately and sensitively arrangements made for those in need. It looks to me that with BB the focus is on the good feeling the provider gets, at the expense of the family in need. Again, the nasty little surprise in the brown bag is the judgment about those in poverty and how they got there and how long they stay there, those with disability, illness, work injury, job loss, access to education limited by class, and the implied casting of blame on the victim if the poverty is not “temporary” ie) the family is on welfare, social assistance, or whatever you want to call it, and it’s not their personal failure.

    “BB4CK is a private organization”

  27. Sharon
    October 8, 2010 at 12:32 pm

    “(…) ie) The family is on welfare, social assistance, or whatever you want to call it.

    People are in poverty for societal causes, and it’s not their personal failure.

  28. Ariffa
    February 27, 2011 at 6:05 pm

    I just made these !
    I subbed coconut oil for vegetable oil and I think that is the reason that they crumbled up when I went to slice them. No matter though ! It’s a delicious recipe and next time I’m following the recipe exactly =)

  29. Sarah
    August 21, 2011 at 4:57 pm

    I just found your blog through a friend and it is great! I realize that you probably don’t want unsolicited recipes, but I still would like to share this one…

    http://allrecipes.com/recipe/jo-anns-power-bars/detail.aspx

    As a mother of 5, a box of granola bars (which are really just pimped up chocolate bars, who are we kidding) doesn’t go very far in our house. I’ve tried numerous recipes in the past, including one using a can of sweetened condensed milk like your other granola bar recipe, which is great in a pinch, but isn’t very healthy. This one is my favourite. It is infinitely adaptable. For instance, I often substitute canned pumpkin for the applesauce and use pumpkin seeds and pumpkin pie spice (and maybe a few butterscotch chips!) It’s easy to throw in some hidden nutrition in the form of flax seeds or wheat bran or whatever you have on hand, and I can easily make them nut free (both for my allergic hubby and for school).

  30. Betty
    September 15, 2011 at 2:22 pm

    Yr recipe in SWERVE for Chewy Granola Bars does not have oats or nuts . The only ingredients you mentioned were dark chocolate, tofu, banana, vanilla and i/4 cup peanut butter. You end the recipe with pouring the above into individual dishes. Could you forward the ingredients left out as my granddaughter and I love tofu.

    P.S. I do love trying out your quick and easy reipes in SSSSSSSSSWERVE

  31. JulieVR
    September 15, 2011 at 11:07 pm

    Betty – yes there was a mistake with the layout in that issue – that was actually a recipe for chocolate tofu mousse. I’ll email you that recipe directly.

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