Simple Sides: Peanut Butter-Banana Clean Snax® Bars!
By Dennis Linden
Competing schedules in the day-to-day lives of a busy modern family make it difficult to share a home-cooked meal together, but not impossible. In fact, with a little planning, cooking together can become a fun family event and learning opportunity. This feature will focus on providing a child or a group of children, working together under the supervision of an adult, with one uncomplicated, healthy and delicious side dish recipe. The dishes will be centered on seasonal fresh produce items; the recipes will always contain tasks that will allow even the youngest kitchen helper to contribute to the family meal. Parents should always read through each recipe carefully to judge the division of labor based on age and ability as well as to identify where adult attention might be especially needed.
Many of the recipes presented here will seem very basic -- this is by design. It is hoped that these simple preparations will provide the culinary foundation and confidence to inspire kids to try more challenging recipes as their experience in the kitchen develops. Melissa’s encourages parents to find the time to gather as a family unit at least once a week for a dinner that everyone pitches in to prepare. It’s a wonderful way to teach children some basic cooking skills and, more importantly, cooking with your children will build memories in all of your hearts forever.
Though this month’s recipe is not a side dish for a family meal that is usually featured in this blog, this recipe idea turned out so delicious that I just had to share! Plus, there are a couple of good lessons for a young aspiring chef that will add a bit more culinary experience and confidence in the kitchen. Most importantly, in a time when child obesity rates are increasing, the recipe shows kids how to make a healthy and nutritious snack food. And, since one of the main ingredients is Melissa’s full line of the already-absolutely-scrumptiously delicious Clean Snax®, this recipe will teach your kids how to make a very, very good thing even better with a little culinary imagination! I chose a mix of Snax for this recipe – Cranberry, Coconut and Quinoa Crunch – but let that be a sous chef decision! With five flavors to choose from there are myriad of combinations to try. And what kid can resist pairing those mixes with that infamous duo, peanut butter and bananas?
Since there are only four ingredients and no cooking until the final bake, this is a recipe that a child of almost any age can accomplish with little help beyond oversight. In fact, the required smashing and crunching of both the bananas and the Clean Snax® could be done by the smallest of hands in a large bowl or, the not as fun but less messy method of two supervised sessions with a food processor.
As noted in the recipe, the peanut butter will need a little prepping to thin it out before combining with the rest of the ingredients. No stovetop required here either. Just measure it into a container and zap in the microwave for about 30 seconds. This procedure does need to be watched closely in order to just melt the peanut butter and not overcook it. Once the peanut butter is just runny enough to mix, your sous chef will need to work quickly before the peanut butter starts hardening again. Once it is mixed thoroughly with the agave and bananas, fold in the crushed Clean Snax® – again, work quickly while the texture of the mix is still pliable.
The parchment-lined baking pan should be ready and waiting for the final transfer before baking. Have a second piece of parchment the size of the pan also staged; once the mix has been poured into the center of the pan, cover it with the second piece of parchment and let your kitchen assistant spread it out evenly to all four corners. Once baked, the bars can be stored on a plate covered with plastic wrap at room temperature for a full week or, wrapped individually, will keep frozen for up to 6 months, although small hands will no doubt make them disappear much quicker!
An ADULTS-ONLY serving note: Turn this kid snack into a sophisticated dessert! Place one bar in a small serving bowl, generously sprinkle the bar with fresh raspberries and then pour, also generously, a well-known brand of Irish cream liqueur over the top. Try to leave a few bars for the kids!
Clean Snax® Bars
Makes 6 bars
3 very ripe Bananas
1 cup Peanut Butter, smooth style
¼ cup Blue Agave Syrup
3 clamshells of Melissa’s Clean Snax®, any one mix or a combination of favorite mixes
What the kids can do:
Smash the bananas in a large mixing bowl, add the peanut butter and agave, and stir until very smooth. Hint: zap the peanut butter in the microwave for about 30 seconds first to make it easier to mix with the other ingredients.
Crush the Clean Snax®, then add to the bowl and mix until very smooth.
Transfer the mixture into a shallow 11”x7” baking dish, lined with parchment paper up the sides. Press and flatten, using a spatula with a second piece of parchment or wax paper over the top, until the mix is evenly distributed over the entire pan.
What the supervising adult should do:
Besides overseeing the entire prep process, bake at 350° for 30 minutes or until golden brown at the edges. Allow to cool completely before your helpers cut into bars.