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Oatmeal Bar Cookies

If you have children in elementary school, you may have noticed that in recent years, the schools have instituted policies whereby home-baked “treats” (in terms of sending in cupcakes for a child’s birthday) are frowned upon. I think this is both good and bad. The overall idea is to limit the amount of processed sugar and junk food that gets into the mouths of our children. This is a great concept, but there are times when a home-baked “treat” is actually a much better alternative to a packaged product (for example, candy at Halloween). The school Halloween party is one of those times where they seem to lighten up and allow parents to send in treats. I have to admit, this is not my most favorite time of the year, so I often find myself going out of my way to volunteer to send in a “treat” for these parties because at least I know that my home-baked alternative actually is something that is both healthy as well as something the children would consider a “treat.”

The basic principles behind the school policies (and the clean eating movement) are founded on sound nutrition. My philosophy is that once you get used to it, cooking and eating clean is actually an easy choice, not just for your children, but for yourself too. Think of it this way: medication can not address years of bad food choices, inactivity, or chronic stress. You have the choice to choose what you eat and what you feed your children each day. Give this “healthy” version of a cookie a try the next time you’re called upon to send in a “home-baked” treat.

Ingredients:
1 1/2 cups rolled oats
1 1/2 cups oat flour (you can grind up the oats in a processor or use actual oat flour)
1 cup raisins
1 tsp. cinnamon
1/4 tsp. salt
1/8 tsp. ground nutmeg
1/4 cup unsweetened almond milk
1/4 cup pure maple syrup

Preparation Instructions:
Pre-heat the oven to 350 and line an 8×10 baking dish with parchment paper. In a large bowl, combine the rolled oats, oat flour and spices. In a smaller bowl, whisk together the milk and maple syrup. Add the wet ingredients to the dry and fold together until well combined, adding more maple syrup if necessary. (The mixture will be sticky). Use a spatula to press it down evenly into the baking dish. Bake for 25 minutes and then allow it to cool fully before cutting into bars. This makes about 12 bars, so you may need to prepare a double batch for the typical elementary classroom.

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