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The Yankee Express

Healthier Baking in the Blackstone Valley

By Christine Galeone

With kids going back to school, there’s a lot for them to look forward to. But the sad reality is that some will be bullied, pressured or manipulated into doing things that are wrong – like vaping or helping another kid cheat – or that they’re uncomfortable with – like dating before they’re ready. Empowering them with a simple tool to fight bullying could help.
These Take Back Control Granola Bars are super easy for kids or parents to make. And if they’re packed into a kid’s lunch with a post-it note with "STOP” written on it, they can live up to their name.
You can teach your kids to remember that if another kid or adult ever attempts to bully them into doing something that they don’t want to do, they can STOP and think of what they need to do. S stands for “Say no!” T stands for “Tell a trusted adult or two or three – even if threatened to keep quiet.” O signifies that they should “Opt to be treated with the respect everyone deserves.” And P reminds them to “Pass it on” to help their friends.
These granola bars are a healthy snack because they’re nutritious. And they’re free from artificial colors and preservatives. The oats are the whole grains that fuel energy. They also contain fiber, which is good for your digestive health, and they’re a heart-healthy ingredient that can lower cholesterol. 
And the raisins, dark chocolate and cinnamon have anti-oxidants. Honey – in moderation – is also better for you than granulated sugar, and it can soothe your throat if you have a cough or sore throat.   
Take Back Control Granola Bars

2 ½ Cups of Rolled Oats
1 Cup of Raisins
1 tsp. Cinnamon
¼ Cup of Honey
¼ Cup of Olive Oil (Light for Baking) and 1 Tbsp. reserved for chocolate chips
1 tsp. of Vanilla Extract
1 Cup of Dark Chocolate Chips (or 4 Baker’s Squares of Dark Chocolate)

Pre-heat the oven to 350 degrees.
In a bowl, mix together all the dry ingredients except the chocolate chips.
Add the wet ingredients, and mix everything (except the chocolate chips) together. 
Distribute the mixture evenly in a 9” X 9” pan, press it down firmly with a spoon, so that it’s level, and bake at 350 degrees for 15-20 minutes. Let it cool completely. Then, melt the chocolate chips or squares (combined with the 1 Tbsp. of olive oil), and completely coat the granola with the melted chocolate for granola bars. If you prefer granola over the bars, just drizzle the melted chocolate over the granola, instead. Cool in the refrigerator, and cut into bars after the chocolate layer has hardened. Makes about 16 granola bars or servings of granola. 

*Please Note: Honey is unsafe for infants, so this recipe shouldn’t be made for anyone under one year old.

Hopefully, your kids, grandkids, nieces or nephews will never have to use this anti-bullying tool.  But it could be helpful now or many years in the future. And no matter what, they can have some healthy and delicious granola bars. Happy (healthier) baking!