Friday, March 4, 2011

math is always better with food

Becca, here.

Lately I've had the opportunity to do some practice teaching for school in a first grade classroom.  It only lasted 3 weeks, but there is one thing I've learned: kids understand fractions in terms of food.

One half a pizza.  One-fourth of a cookie.  One-third of a pie. It's enough to make any one hungry, especially if math is before lunch.

Today was our last day in the classroom, so it was time to whip out some food fun.

I recently bought a cupcake pan from Wal-Mart that was on sale for $4! Steal! The molds are set for one 'bottom' and one 'top' of a muffin/cupcake.  I can't wait to play around different kids to make!
Today's are simple.  White cake mix dyed different colors. I'm all out of red dye... 

Each kid got a half of a cupcake and had to find their other half.  Once they partnered up, they got a little icing to seal the deal.  They loved it!

Note to self: Always use food in future math lessons. Or Science, English, History...

granola bars from a granola freak.

Ally, here.

Back in our days in Washington, Becca and I could not get enough granola. I think the Northwest is the granola capital of the world or something (I'm possibly making this up), but as everyone there is super outdoorsy, it just makes sense to eat granola. And eat granola, we did.

And that love for granola made it all the way back to Kentucky (and Louisiana), where I consume a box of granola a week. My recent favorite is Kashi Cocoa Beach. Chocolate granola. Genius. Try it.

Anyway, besides loving simple granola, I also love granola bars. And as I am a girl in constant need of snacks (eating is a good way to stay awake during my less-than-thrilling classes), I go through a lot of granola bars. So I decided to make my own.

And with the help of GoodLife Eats, I have a pretty simple recipe for granola bars that taste good and aren't full of corn syrup! (By the way, you should check out her website and look at her photos, as her granola bars are far more beautiful than mine.)

I've been making these every few weeks for the last month or so. I haven't done the calculations to determine if it is less expensive to make your own granola bars or buy some at the store, but I always feel better about eating something I made myself.

These granola bars are chewy and delicious. The husband loves them and requests a batch to take to work every few weeks for snacks (I guess we're a snacking family).

Almond Butter Granola Bars
adapted from here

2 1/2 cups oats (I used half old-fashioned and half steel cut)
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1/2 cup honey
3/4 teaspoon vanilla
1 cup almond butter
1/2 cup slivered almonds
1/2 cup dried blueberries
1/2 cup dried cranberries

Preheat oven to 325 degrees.

In the bowl of a stand mixer, combine oats, cinnamon, honey, vanilla, and almond butter. Mix until well combined. Add almonds and dried fruit and mix until incorporated.

Line an 8x8 baking pan with parchment paper. Press the mixture into the baking pan until tightly packed.

Bake for 30 minutes. Remove from oven and cool in the freezer until firm. Lift the parchment paper out of the pan and cut granola into 8-12 bars.

I store my granola bars in an airtight container in the freezer to keep them fresh and then grab them on the go. They thaw out pretty quickly, so you can eat them almost immediately.

Hope you'll enjoy some granola bars and dream about the Northwest sometime soon!