5-Minute Dark Chocolate Cereal Bars
(Culinary.net) Running short on time from a busy schedule shouldn’t mean skipping out on your favorite desserts. In fact, it should be all the more reason to enjoy a sweet treat as a reward for all that hard work.
When you’re due for a bite into dark chocolate goodness, all it takes is a few minutes out of your day to make 5-Minute Dark Chocolate Cereal Bars. This quick and simple dessert makes it easy to celebrate the day’s accomplishments without added stress.
As a fun way for little ones to help in the kitchen, you can cook together the butter, marshmallows, peanut butter and cereal then let the kiddos drizzle the key ingredient: melted chocolate. All that’s left to do is cut and serve or pack a few off to school and work for an afternoon treat.
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5-Minute Dark Chocolate Cereal Bars
Recipe adapted from ScrummyLane.com
- 4 tablespoons butter
- 10 ounces marshmallows
- 1/2 cup peanut butter
- 6 cups cereal
- 4 ounces milk chocolate, melted
- 4 ounces dark chocolate, melted
- Heat saucepan over low heat. Add butter, marshmallows and peanut butter; stir to combine. Add cereal; mix until coated.
- Line 9-by-13-inch pan with parchment paper. Add cereal mixture to pan.
- In bowl, mix milk chocolate and dark chocolate. Drizzle chocolate over cereal mixture; spread evenly then allow to cool.
- Cut into bars and serve.
Fun, On-the-Go Health Hacks
(Family Features) As many people start getting back into normal routines, they’re returning to familiar on-the-go lifestyles by heading back to work, traveling to new destinations and enjoying time with loved ones.
While you get out to explore and gather with family and friends again, remember you’ll need fuel for your adventures. According to a National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey, most Americans fail to get enough whole grains each day, opting instead for mostly refined grains.
Foods like tasty whole-grain popcorn offer an easy health hack so you can make every bite count. Try getting in the habit of popping 9 cups of popcorn in the morning and dividing it into two containers. Season one container with salt and herbs, the other with a pinch of sugar and cinnamon so you can alternate between sweet and salty throughout the day. Bringing delicious options like these while on the go can help satisfy hunger pangs while adding the fiber your body needs.
Because mouthwatering whole-grain popcorn is versatile and 3 cups is equal to one serving of whole grains, it’s a simple yet flavorful option for meeting dietary recommendations. It can be a breeze to add it to snacks like Blueberry and Pomegranate Power Bars, Crunchy Popcorn Trail Mix or Sweet and Savory Curried Popcorn. You can even satisfy kids’ cravings with Grab and Go Pizza Popcorn, a six-ingredient recipe made in a matter of minutes.
Visit popcorn.org to find more nutritious snack ideas.
Sweet and Savory Curried Popcorn
Yield: 8 cups
- 8 cups unsalted, unbuttered popped popcorn
- 1/3 cup ghee (clarified butter) or coconut oil
- 2 tablespoons brown sugar
- 1 tablespoon honey
- 1 teaspoon curry powder
- 1/2 teaspoon cumin
- 2 teaspoons flaked sea salt
- Place popcorn in large mixing bowl.
- In saucepan over medium heat, melt ghee, brown sugar, honey, curry powder and cumin; stir until dissolved. Bring to light boil; remove from heat.
- Toss ghee mixture and salt with popcorn; transfer to serving bowl.
Crunchy Popcorn Trail Mix
Yield: 9 cups
- 5 cups popped popcorn
- 3 cups whole-grain oat cereal
- 1/3 cup raisins
- 1/3 cup peanuts or other nuts
- 1/3 cup sunflower seeds
- 1/4 cup (1/2 stick) butter or margarine
- 6 tablespoons brown sugar
- 2 tablespoons light corn syrup
- In large, microwavable bowl, stir popcorn, cereal, raisins, nuts and seeds; set aside.
- In small saucepan, heat butter, brown sugar and corn syrup until boiling; cook 3 minutes, stirring occasionally. Pour over popcorn mixture, stirring to coat evenly.
- Microwave 3-4 minutes, stirring and scraping bowl after each minute.
- Spread onto greased cookie sheet; cool. Break into pieces and store in airtight container.
Blueberry and Pomegranate Power Bars
Yield: 12 bars
- Nonstick cooking spray
- 8 cups popped popcorn
- 1 1/2 cups old-fashioned rolled oats
- 1 cup dried blueberries
- 1/2 cup pomegranate seeds
- 1/2 cup whole natural almonds, toasted and coarsely chopped
- 2/3 cup honey
- 2/3 cup light brown sugar
- 2 tablespoons butter or margarine
- 6 ounces bittersweet chocolate, melted
- Line 13-by-9-inch pan with foil; spray with nonstick cooking spray.
- In large bowl, combine popcorn, oats, blueberries, pomegranate seeds and almonds.
- In small saucepan over low heat, boil honey, brown sugar and butter 2 minutes. Pour over popcorn mixture and mix thoroughly.
- Using damp hands, press mixture firmly into prepared pan. Refrigerate until firm, about 2 hours. Cut into 12 bars.
- Dip bottoms of bars into melted chocolate. Place on wax paper-lined pan; refrigerate until ready to serve. Store in tight covered container in refrigerator.
Grab and Go Pizza Popcorn
Yield: 6 quarts
- 6 quarts popped popcorn
- olive oil cooking spray
- 1 cup grated Parmesan cheese
- 2 teaspoons garlic salt
- 2 teaspoons paprika
- 1 tablespoon Italian seasoning
- Place popcorn in large, sealable plastic container or 2 1/2-gallon plastic sealable bag.
- Spray popcorn lightly with olive oil cooking spray.
- Sprinkle cheese, garlic salt, paprika and Italian seasoning over popcorn and shake to distribute evenly.
- To serve, scoop popcorn into reusable plastic cups.
Source: Popcorn Board
Kid-Friendly Creativity in the Kitchen
(Family Features) While so many families spend more time at home than normal, many may be seeking ways to increase fun and activity, especially for children. One way to increase engagement while teaching lifelong lessons is to head to the kitchen for a learning exercise in creating nutritious snacks and treats.
Consider these creative ways you can get your kids involved in the kitchen:
Look for simple recipes kids can help create. Logically, the first step in the process is to focus on ingredients and instructions that aren't overly complicated. For example, avoid snacks that call for cutting with knives and instead try a recipe like these Frosted Watermelon Cutouts, which involves kid-friendly cookie cutters.
Be flexible. Another way to involve children is to let them help in the meal-planning routine. Because kids' desired tastes may differ from your own, be open to outside-the-box ideas like breakfast for dinner, nutritious snacks for lunch and fruit for dessert.
Take advantage of nutritious produce. Comprised of 92% water to support hydration, an option like watermelon is a source of vitamin C and other important nutrients. At only 80 calories per 2-cup serving, one watermelon provides up to three dozen servings that can be used in a variety of nutritious family recipes, and 100% of the fruit is usable between the flesh, juice and rind. For example, this recipe for Kids Watermelon Sandwich Cookies provides a sweet treat the whole family can enjoy while calling for just a few ingredients.
Visit watermelon.org for more creative ways to use the whole watermelon, including recipes and kid-friendly carvings.
Craft a Fun, Frozen Fruit
Using leftovers can make for a fun way to avoid food waste. For example, if you have extra watermelon, simply cut into 1/2-1-inch wedges and insert clean crafting sticks into the center of the rind. Put them in the freezer for at least 1 hour to create sweet watermelon ice pops.
Kids Watermelon Sandwich Cookies
Recipe courtesy of the National Watermelon Promotion Board
- 12 blueberry pancakes (3-inch round), cooled to room temperature
- 1/2 cup white frosting
- 6 seedless watermelon slices (2/3-inch thick, 3-inch round), drained to remove excess moisture
- Evenly frost bottom of each pancake with white frosting. Arrange six pancakes frosting side up on serving platter. Place one slice watermelon on each frosted pancake.
- Top each with remaining pancakes, frosting side down. Serve immediately or cover and refrigerate until ready to serve.
Frosted Watermelon Cutouts
Recipe courtesy of the National Watermelon Promotion Board
- 1 seedless watermelon, cut into 1/2-3/4-inch thick slices
- 1 serving vanilla yogurt
- 1 serving granola or similar cereal
- Using cookie cutters, cut shapes out of watermelon slices. Or, if preferred, use classic cut watermelon wedges.
- Frost each slice with yogurt. Sprinkle with granola.
New Research Links Refrigerator Staple to Teenage Height
Study finds drinking more milk growing up is associated with increased height at 17
(Family Features) Drinking real dairy milk is especially important for growing kids, and new research suggests regularly drinking more milk throughout childhood is associated with an increase in teenage height, according to a new study in “The Journal of Nutrition.”1
Researchers followed more than 700 kids from the time they were born, analyzing their height and diet from ages 2-17, and found each additional glass of milk kids drank per day throughout childhood increased their height at age 17 by around 0.39 centimeters. That means the more milk kids drank regularly growing up, the taller they were. Water and other beverages, including 100 percent juice and sugar-sweetened beverages, didn’t have the same effect.
These findings add to a growing body of research that suggests regularly drinking milk during the growing years is associated with greater height in the teen years, while regularly skipping milk or drinking non-dairy milk alternatives, like almond or soy milk, is linked to shorter height.2, 3, 4
The 2015-2020 Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommend two cups of milk and milk products each day for kids ages 2-3, two and a half cups each day for kids 4-8 and three cups each day for kids 9-18. While it’s hard for kids to get nutrients they need to grow strong without milk in their diets, eighty-five percent of Americans fall short of these daily recommendations, which includes most children over 3 years old.5, 6
Serving an eight-ounce glass of milk alongside meals or snacks is an easy way to give kids nine essential nutrients, including high-quality protein, and get them closer to these recommendations. Try pairing these homemade cereal bars from Jamielyn Nye, author of iheartnaptime.net, with a cold glass of milk for an easy after-school snack, and find more kid-approved recipes at pourmoremilk.com.
Homemade Cereal Bars
Recipe courtesy of Jamielyn Nye, author of iheartnaptime.net, on behalf of Milk Life
- 1/2 cup peanut butter
- 1/2 cup honey
- 1/2 teaspoon vanilla
- 3 1/2 cups dry cereal
- Line 8-by-8-inch pan with parchment paper and set aside.
- In a medium size sauce pan, combine peanut butter and honey and cook 3 minutes, stirring occasionally. Remove from heat and stir in vanilla.
- Add in dry cereal and stir until completely coated then press into lined pan. Use piece of parchment paper to press firmly down on bars.
- Refrigerate bars 1 hour, or until ready to serve.
- Serve with eight-ounce glass of milk.
Nutritional information per serving: 180 calories; 4 1/2 g fat; 1 g saturated fat; 5 mg cholesterol; 10 g protein; 26 g carbohydrates; 1 g fiber; 160 mg sodium; 306 mg calcium (30% of daily value). Nutrition figures include an eight-ounce glass of fat free milk.
1Marshall TA, Curtis AM, Cavanaugh JE, Warren JJ, Levy SM. Higher longitudinal milk intakes are associated with increased height in a birth cohort followed for 17 years. The Journal of Nutrition. 2018;148(7):1144-1149.
2Wiley AS. Does milk make children grow? Releationships between milk consumption and height in NHANES 1999-2002. American Journal of Human Biology. 2005;17(4):425-441.
3Rockell JEP, Williams SM, Taylor RW, Grant AM, Jones IE, Goulding A. Two-year changes in bone and body composition in young children with a history of prolonged milk avoidance. Osteoporosis International. 2005;16(9):1016-1023.
4 Morency M, Birken CS, Lebovic G, Chen Y, L’Abbé M, Lee GJ, Maguire JL and the TARGet Kids! Collaboration. Association between noncow milk beverage consumption and childhood height. American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. 2017;106(2):597-602.
5 Krebs-Smith SM, Guenther PM, Subar AF, Kirkpatrick SI, Dodd KW. Americans do not meet federal dietary recommendations. The Journal of Nutrition. 2010;140:1832-1838.
6 U.S. Department of Agriculture and U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Dietary Guidelines for Americans, 2015. 8th Edition, 2015.
New Year, New Organic You
(Family Features) The New Year is a great time to reflect on your life and think about what you can do to become happier and healthier. There are many resolutions you can make, but one that can benefit you, your family, your community and the planet is eating more organic food. It can also be easier than you think.
To be USDA-Certified Organic, food must be grown without toxic synthetic pesticides and herbicides, genetically engineered ingredients (also called GMOs), antibiotics or artificial growth hormones.
“Simply put, organic is better for you and the environment. When you’re eating organic foods, you’re keeping harmful chemicals and GMOs out of your body and some studies have shown that organic farming produces more nutrient-dense crops,” said Arjan Stephens, executive vice president, sales and marketing at Nature’s Path. “Organic farming supports a healthier planet by not adding chemicals to the air, water and soil, as well as keeping them away from you and future generations.”
Going organic is simple; you can start small and feel good knowing that every time you choose organic it benefits you and the environment. Here are three ways to go organic this year:
- Look Inside Your Pantry: Fresh fruits and vegetables may be the first thing that come to mind when you think about organic, but don’t forget about your pantry. Staples such as flour, sugar, vegetable oil, peanut butter and more can be swapped out for organic options and make it easier to have organic food as part of every meal.
- Start with What You Eat Everyday: A good place to start is with the foods you consume every day. If you and your family start each morning with a bowl of cereal, try eating organic cereal like Nature's Path, which has an extensive line of cereals (as well as waffles, granola, oatmeal and granola bars) that are all USDA-Certified Organic, or try this tasty, organic recipe for an Oatmeal Latte.
- Think Outside the Cart: You may think that organic food costs more, but you can find less expensive options by shopping at your local farmer’s market, comparing prices online, buying in bulk (which is better for the environment) and even growing some of your own food.
Going organic can be easy, delicious and good for you and the planet. For more tips on going organic, visit blog.naturespath.com/.
- 2/3 cup water
- 1/3 cup vanilla soy milk
- 1/2 cup Nature’s Path Original Hot Oatmeal
- pinch of salt
- 2 tablespoons brown sugar
- 1-2 shots espresso, for topping
- 1/2 cup warm vanilla soy milk, for topping
- Nature’s Path Flax Plus Vanilla Almond Granola, for topping
- pinch of cinnamon, for topping
- In small saucepan, bring water and soy milk to simmer over medium-high heat.
- Add oats and salt. Turn heat to medium and cook until oatmeal reaches desired consistency. Stir in brown sugar and transfer to bowl or mug.
- Using steamer, milk frother or whisk, froth warm milk until foamy.
- Top oatmeal with espresso and frothed milk. Stir gently. Top with granola and cinnamon.
Source: Nature’s Path