Last summer I had the privilege of hosting one of the First Lady's Let's Move South Lawn series. The focus was on educating and engaging children on the importance of physical activity and proper nutrition. Around 60 kids from the DC area were able to run, skip and hop in the backyard of one of the most famous homes in the world. After an hour of participating in physical activity stations, we were all ready for a good snack. And this is when I tried the fruit and oat bars.
Typically I don't care for snacks, not even if they're healthy ones. I would rather just eat a healthy meal. However, all the kids and adults kept raving about how good these bars were, so I felt like I needed to take a nibble. I mean, the First Lady did approve of this snack for the kids so I was curious to know what she really liked about them. On my first bite I was sold. Five bars later I realized I needed to stop and save some for the kids. Though the bars are made with oats, dried fruit and many other healthy ingredients, portion control is something that's important when eating many foods including healthy snacks.
Since I enjoy teaching my niece and nephew how to cook I thought this would be a perfect recipe for them. So when I met Assistant White House Chef Sam Kass I immediately asked him for the recipe. It's been months and still I had yet to make the bars so what better place to take a trial run at them then in the White House kitchen.
Here's the recipe:
Fruit and Oatmeal Bars
About 50 minutes, plus time cooling
- 6 tablespoons grapeseed oil, or other neutral oil, plus extra for brushing pan
- 2 cups rolled oats
- ½ cup mixed seeds, such as pumpkin, sunflower and sesame
- ½ cup honey
- ½ cup dark brown sugar
- 1/3 cup maple syrup
- Pinch of salt
- 1 ½ cups mixed dried fruit, such as raisins, cherries, apricots, papaya, pineapple and cranberries (at least 3 kinds, cut into small pieces if large)
- 1 teaspoon ground cardamom or cinnamon
- 2 tablespoons of butter
1. Heat oven to 350 degrees. Line a 9-inch-square baking pan with parchment paper or foil, letting a few inches hangs over side of pan. Brush with oil
2. Spread oats and seeds on another baking pan and toast in oven just until golden and fragrant, 6 to 8 minutes, shaking pan once.
3. In a saucepan, combine oil, butter, honey, brown sugar, maple syrup and salt. Stir over medium heat until smooth and hot. In a mixing bowl, toss together toasted oats and seeds, dried fruit and cardamom. Pour hot sugar mixture over and stir until well combined.
4. While mixture is warm, transfer to prepared pan, pressing into pan evenly with an offset spatula.
5. Bake until brown, 25 to 30 minutes. Transfer pan to a rack and let cool completely. Using the overhanging foil or paper, lift out of pan and place on a work surface Cut into bars, about 1 ½ inches by 3 inches.