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There’s nothing like the crisp scent of autumn leaves, a slight chill in the air, and the smell of baking filling up the house. With the kids back in school it’s a great time to put those autumn baking urges to good use and bake up some delicious homemade snacks. Baking delicious treats is fun and fulfilling, and because you control the quality, fat, sugar and sodium content they’re healthier than store bought goods. Here are a few ideas for healthy baked goods for the kids, and the whole family.
Bake your own granola bars. There are lots of granola cereals that are low in sugar and fat, or you can make your own granola. Mix together 2 cups of granola with 1 cup of whole wheat flour, 1 cup of dried fruit -any combination, a pinch of salt, and 1 teaspoon baking powder. You can also add chopped, toasted nuts, or even diced apples or pears. In a bowl mix together two eggs, two tablespoons of milk, ¼ cup of melted light butter or veg. oil, ¼-1/2 cup of brown sugar, 1 tablespoon of vanilla extract. Mix together the dry and wet ingredients and spread in oiled baking sheet or dish. Bake at 350 until golden brown. Granola bars are a little drier and denser than cookie bars, so they save and carry well.
Bake up a batch of homemade biscuits. Use a combination of whole wheat flour and/or oatmeal in your favorite recipe for extra fiber and texture. For a portable breakfast, layer split biscuits with lean ham and low fat cheese. Use biscuits instead of bread for a fun and tasty change. Biscuits make a sweet afternoon snack spread with some light butter and low sugar jam. You can also serve them with melted cheese and a bowl of soup for a hearty and quick dinner.
If you think baking bread takes too much time and effort, try baking up a double batch of Irish soda bread. This quick and easy bread can be eaten any time of day and it’s slightly sweet, savory and crunchy texture is addictive and delicious. You’ll be surprised that it only takes about five minutes to mix up in one bowl, and about 40-50 minutes to bake. You can make it after dinner and let it bake while you spend some time with the family. In the morning there will be a fresh loaf of bread for toast, pressed paninis, and sandwiches.
Homemade muffins recipe are also quick to make and one of the most portable foods around. For healthy versions use part whole-wheat flour, lower the butter or oil content by replacing with mashed bananas, use buttermilk and/or yogurt instead of whole milk, and use lots of chopped fresh and/or dried fruit for added fiber and flavor. Try making savory muffins for a special lunch or afterschool treat. How about chopped lean ham and low fat cheddar corn muffins? Use your imagination, and your leftovers for savory muffins.
Try baking one or two of these treats once a week. They freeze and travel well and don’t take long to bake. Baking some of your own back to school treats will also save you some money and puts you more in control of your family’s diet.
While you’re here, be sure to check out our kitchen product reviews!