(snack bars are served with almond milk, fresh jam and nectarine slices)


Snacks: I'm into them. Some folks aren't, some are -- I'm of the latter school of thought. Working with kids really showed me the importance of the post-playground nosh. The kids were incredible -- they'd steam roll into the classroom, sit on the circle on the rug and revel in their snack options for the day. They'd do things like stare at the bits of fruit wide eyed, place every cracker onto the square of the napkin, trace their hands in goldfish, build log cabins with a handful of pretzels, take an eternity nibbling the edge of a cookie until it turned to mush . . . They used to fight over 'first bite' privileges before I selected a well-mannered child to begin.

Most days were typical -- pretzels and cranberries, cheese and crackers, fruit and yogurt . . . but it was Friday that was freaky. Fridays were considered healthy days, so there'd be a vegetable cup, perfectly innocuous, next to a small Dixie cup full of ranch dressing. This combo sounds innocent enough, but a few kids would ditch the veggies into the trash and DRINK THE DRESSING. They'd have white goo on the sides of their mouth for the duration of story time. It was at once foul and fascinating. I can still see the 'what's wrong teacher leela?' faces as I glared at the culprits in horror . . . Now that I've scarred you, let's get back into between-meal eating.

Being on my feet all morning and dashing off to appointments (and play dates!) post-work, I found myself slingin' granola into my mouth while driving or bits of leftover whatevers or pb and js or even bites of gross energy bars. I'm one of those people who goes nuts if they get too hungry, and I find little snacks fuel my brain, energy levels and overall mood (smiley). For me, three meals a day just won't cut it. Tricia and I started talking homemade granola bar/muffin hybrids and she came up with two lovely options -- and I just had to dig out my own, from many moons ago . . . This newest version has a few tweaks to the original (additions of wheat germ, flax, pistachios, etc.) but the integrity and flavor concept is the same. Not too sweet, tasty, filling and easy to eat on the go.

So go ahead, bake a little wholesome morsel. These healthful treats are amazing with a shmear of jam, a touch of almond butter, a dollop of yogurt or just as is, with a nice cup of tea . . . And they're vegan.

Snacky Bar
1/4 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup sugar
1/2 c soft tofu, mashed into a creamy consistency
1/2 c soy yogurt
2 tbsp ground flax seeds
4 tbsp wheat germ
2 tbsp vegetable oil
2 tbsp non-dairy milk (almond milk is my preference)
2 tsp vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups whole wheat flour
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 tsp. nutmeg
1/2 tsp ground cloves
1/2 tsp salt
2 1/2 cups oats
2 oz. roughly chopped almonds
2 oz. pistachios
1/2 cup dried cherries

Preheat the oven to 350°F

Lightly grease a 9x9-inch square baking dish or a muffin-top pan (I happen to have one of these and used it), mini muffin, or even a Madeline pan

Whisk together the brown sugar, sugar, soy yogurt, ground flax seed, oil, non-dairy milk, and vanilla extract.

In a separate bowl, combine the remaining ingredients.

Add to the wet mixture and stir until just combined.

Put dough into prepared dish (or muffin-top/madeline pan) and bake for 12-15 minutes, or until a knife inserted into the center comes out clean.

You will need to increase your cooking time if you are making bars in one pan.

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