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Kids a Cookin': Chewy Oatmeal Bars

With spring just around the corner, here's a nutritious and delicious recipe that's great to send along on school outings or picnics or just to enjoy as a healthy snack. The recipe, which is fun for kids and adults to make together, is provided by the Family Nutrition Program at Kansas State University Research and Extension.

Ingredients:
2 1/4 cups quick or old fashioned oats, uncooked
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
5 tablespoons regular margarine, softened
1/4 cup honey
1/4 cup brown sugar
1 cup raisins

Directions:
1. Wash your hands.

Margarine, Butter Easy to Measure
Measuring butter or margarine for a recipe is easier than some might think, said Kansas State University nutrition educator Kathy Walsten. Walsten coordinates the Kids a Cookin' program, part of K-State Research and Extension's Family Nutrition Program. She provided these helpful hints:
  • One stick of margarine or butter equals 1/2 cup. The wrapping usually is marked off in tablespoons for measuring smaller amounts, so you can use a sharp knife to cut off the number of tablespoons needed in the recipe. This works best if the stick is solid.

  • If the wrapper does not have markings, pack the margarine or butter firmly to the top of the needed measuring spoon or cup and level it off with a table knife.

  • Do not use whipped versions of butter and margarine for cooking or baking. Because they have added air for volume; you will not get a correct measurement.

  • Do not use reduced-fat butter and margarine for cooking or baking. They have added moisture and, if recipes are not specifically formulated for them, results may be disappointing.

  • To store margarine or butter, leave it in its original package and keep it in the refrigerator or freezer.

    More Kids a Cookin' tips plus recipes in Spanish and English are available at this Web site: www.kidsacookin.ksu.edu

2. Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Lightly coat an 8x8-inch baking pan with unflavored vegetable cooking spray.

3. In a large mixing bowl, combine all ingredients. Stir until well blended; turn mixture into prepared pan.

4. Wash your hands again and press mixture to distribute it evenly in the pan.

5. Bake 18 to 22 minutes or until golden brown.

6. Using potholders, remove the pan from the oven and place it on a cooling rack.

7. Cool 10 minutes before cutting into bars or 2x2-inch squares. Let bars cool in pan before serving or storing.

8. Store oatmeal bars in an airtight container at room temperature or tightly wrap single bars before sending along in backpacks or picnic baskets.

Makes 16.

Per (one bar) serving:26g carbohydrates; 2g dietary fiber; 0mg cholesterol; 85mg sodium; 2g protein; 4.5g of fat (0.5 gram saturated); 150 calories.

Helpful hints:
If your family does not like raisins, use any combination of chopped dates, cranberries or nuts or miniature chocolate or butterscotch chips or sunflower seeds.

You can easily double this recipe, using a 9x13-inch baking pan. (Doubling a recipe brings school right into the kitchen -- let the kids do the math.)

Safety Tip:
Remember to use dry hot pads when removing pans from the oven.

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