Thursday, April 15, 2010

Granola Recipe

I decided this week to send in breakfast food for the kids to eat before they started the CRCT test. Sometimes children may have not had a chance to eat or are hungry once they get to school and this ensures they start the test on a full stomach. Today I sent in homemade granola. This is a very simple recipe, that's cheap to make, kids love it and it is sweetened with only coconut and honey. People are always very impressed that you can make your own granola (until they see how very simple it is;). Below is the recipe. It's possibilities are endless because you add whatever you want to it! I will say that my family, and myself included, are not big fans of coconut. When I say "not big fans" I mean my husband won't touch the stuff. However when you toast it as in this recipe, it changes the taste and texture. My husbands eats this granola by the fist full - reminding me how much he hates coconut;)

Homemade Granola
4 cups old fashioned oats
2 cups sweetened coconut
1 cup slivered almonds (optional - I did not use these for the batch I made today due to nut allergies)
3/4 cup vegetable oil
1/2 cup honey

Mix dry ingredients in a large bowl. Whisk oil & honey together. Pour oil/honey over the dry ingredients and toss with you hands until evenly distributed. Pour out on a parchment paper lined cookie sheet and bake at 350 for 40 minutes stirring the granola every 10 minutes to make sure the top pieces don't burn and it gets evenly toasted. Let granola cool and then you have to break it apart. You can then add 1 bag of chocolate chips, or dried fruit or peanuts or whatever else you would like! It makes a ton so there's always some to share!! Ina Garten also has a great granola bar recipe if you are interested. Enjoy:)

Thursday, April 8, 2010

CRCT Snacks & Treats

So for those lucky enough to live in Georgia we have the dreaded CRCT testing coming up over the next two weeks. Most room parents are asked to help with snack. I usually send a letter asking parents that like to help to send in breakfast items such as granola bars, raisins, bananas, clementines, etc. - anything that is NOT loaded with sugar or artificial colors (i.e. NO pop tarts, NO rice krispy treats, NOTHING to give the kids a huge rush of sugar right before the test). This gives the teacher a stash of items to offer children who may have missed breakfast (and also a stash of items if the picky eaters don't like snack that day).
Snack time during the CRCT is strictly timed and goes by fast. For snack each day I find that it's easiest on the teacher and the children if I "pre-package" a snack. This way less time is spent dispensing the snack and more time is allotted to the children to eat. I only send in foods that are natural - absolutely NO high fructose corn syrup, no artificial colors or sweeteners. The children need a balanced healthy snack that will allow them to do their best. Also I try my best to pre cut or pre peel any fruit so they don't use their snack time trying to get their food ready to eat or worse have to sit and wait on their teacher to help them.

Below is my planned schedule of snacks next week. I will pre-package these items in 20 individual ziploc sandwich bags and the send these items in a large cooler bag to school each day with my daughter. Last year I sent my 1st grader on the bus every day like this and she had no issues (in case anyone is curious).

This year's snack:
Day 1
- Homemade Mini Blueberry & Mini Banana Muffins, String Cheese, Carrots and Clementines (peeled and sectioned)
Day 2 - Annie's Cheddar Bunny Crackers, Organic Yogurt, Celery Sticks and Strawberries (hulled)
Day 3 - Pretzels, Cheddar Cheese Squares, Apple Slices & Grapes and Cucumber
Here is how I packaged the snack so it was easy for the teacher to hand out quickly and easy for the kids to open:

My SIL has been a Kindergarten teacher for the past 10 years and she is a great resource for ideas. She suggested I send in "Smarty-Grams" this year to the kids. Since I'm banning HFC from the snacks I'm sending in I will allow this minor infraction to be distributed at the end of the day (if SG's teacher does:). It's just a pack of smarties with a little encouraging note attached. Below I've listed what I'm going to write each day. My SIL's school actually let's the parents send in their own notes to attach but I'm too OCD and don't have time for that. You can cut out paper and make "SMARTY PANTS". You could also choose a different candy - but Smarties are small and inexpensive to do (I bought a bag of 65 for under$2.50 at Target today). Please post what testing treat ideas you have!

Testing is also extremely hard on the teachers and we rarely stop to think about that. To think that they are sitting there watching all these little kids who are basically holding the teacher's job performance indicator in their little #2 pencil holding hands!! This year I found an adorable sign that did break my "NO PENCIL GIFTS" rule - but it was so stinking cute I had to get it. I sent it in on the first day of testing and our teacher almost cried. She immediately hung it up so the whole class could see it all week! There are other signs with this same scripture that read "You believe in us so we believe in ourselves".