National School Breakfast Week: Banana-Oatmeal Breakfast Bars


Next week is National School Breakfast Week.

We all know how important breakfast is, yet so many of our kids are coming to school hungry. Some don’t have food at home, some leave too early, or their parents are too busy — or for whatever the reason — they just don’t get breakfast.

We do know that when kids eat breakfast they perform better. I’ve looked at a lot of programs throughout the state that different schools are trying. I’ve been thinking about ways that we can really help our kids. We would like to think that every child arrives at school each day with a full tummy, and ready to learn. Sadly in so many cases, this is not reality.

Kids with access to school breakfast are more likely to eat breakfast in the morning. Along with improving school attendance, studies show that children who eat school breakfast have improved standardized test scores. They have improved math scores, attendance and punctuality, and decreased anxiety, depression and hyperactivity. So I believe we need to look at ways we can help make this happen.

Some schools are offering a universal free school breakfast. This is usually offered in the homeroom, with a simple menu. The kids eat while the teacher calls roll, makes announcements, and collects homework, so really no time is lost from the day. There are good reports about how this really brings the class together. Other schools have grab-and-go breakfast bags when the kids get off the bus or on carts in the school. They can eat it after first period or at some designated break. Having a universal breakfast program helps decrease the stigma, so that kids who need it will get it.

I’ve been trying some recipes for good breakfasts that can be made ahead. My children loved pancakes and cereal and eggs, but there are lots of other things that busy parents can make ahead for their children. I found an interesting recipe for Banana-Oatmeal Breakfast Bars. They are full of fiber and protein, and very low on sugar. They are soft and keep best in the refrigerator, and can be frozen. I tried them on Mike and he liked them, but he suggested adding raisins or blueberries, and maybe nuts to them. I’m going to play around with the recipe a little more.

I’m also going to check out more schools around the state and see what programs are really working. We really do want our kids to perform better, learn more, and have a great school day!

Banana-Oatmeal Breakfast Bars

2 cups old fashioned oats

1 cup whole wheat flour

1 teaspoon baking powder

2 teaspoons cinnamon

1/4 teaspoon salt

1 1/2 cups milk

1/4 cup honey

2 tablespoons peanut butter

1/2 cup unsweetened applesauce

1 large egg

1 teaspoon vanilla

1 medium banana, quartered and diced

Heat oven to 375 degrees. Lightly coat an 8 by 8 inch square pan with cooking spray.

In a medium bowl, stir together the oats, flour, baking powder, cinnamon, and salt. In another large bowl, combine the milk, applesauce, egg, honey, peanut butter, and vanilla.

Pour the dry ingredients into the wet mixture and stir to combine. The batter will be very wet. Fold in the diced banana, then pour into the prepared baking pan.

Bake for 30 to 35 minutes or until slightly golden and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool, cut into bars, and serve.

Storage: Once cooled, bars can be wrapped individually in plastic and kept in the refrigerator for 5 days or freeze.

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By Fran DeWine

Ohio First Lady Fran DeWine is a Cedarville resident, Yellow Springs native and guest columnist.

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