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Calgary's Child About-Town: A Parent’s Best Defense Against Snack Attacks

Fall means back to school, back to work and busier schedules as sports teams and other extracurricular activities once again get underway. With busy kids (and parents) in the house, it’s always a good thing to have a jar full of something to grab on the way out the door. These sweet and salty granola bars fit the bill whether you need something to nibble on in the car on the way to work, or have a hunger gap that needs filling between school and soccer. Individually wrapped, they’re easy to toss into school lunches and gym bags, don’t require refrigeration and aren’t easily crushed. Bonus: They’re easy to make and you know exactly what goes into them.

We’re an oat-loving family; I buy big bags of old-fashioned oats from Highwood Crossing - and especially love making use of their products as they rebuild from the flood. Located on the banks of the Highwood River as it winds from High River to Calgary, it took over a year to rebuild their facility. This basic recipe takes on additions well, so you can use what you like or what you have on hand; I like adding some Highwood Crossing flaxseed and using their beautiful cold-pressed canola oil. Rich and deep yellow, it’s been referred to as ‘Canada’s olive oil.’ Happy snacking!

Sweet and Salty Granola Bars

Use this basic recipe as a blank canvas and add any dried fruit, nuts and seeds you like - or chunks of dark chocolate. Adapted from Tony and Penny at Highwood Crossing (

• 3 cups old-fashioned (large flake) oats

• 1 cup sliced almonds, chopped walnuts or pecans, or a combination, toasted

• 1 cup sunflower or pumpkin seeds (or both)

• 1 cup raisins, dried cranberries, chopped dried apricots or a combination

• 1, 300 mL can sweetened condensed milk

• ¼ cup butter, softened

• ¼ cup canola oil (I love the cold-pressed canola from Highwood Crossing)

• ½ tsp. salt

Preheat oven to 350°F. Line a 9” x 13” pan with foil or parchment, overlapping the sides for easy removal of bars.
Combine all the ingredients in a large bowl and mix well. Press evenly into the prepared pan. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes, or until golden. Cool slightly, then flip out onto a cutting board and cut into bars. Wrap individually in plastic wrap for easy lunch packing. Makes about 16 bars.

Julie is a food editor for ParentsCanada, a best-selling cookbook author, food writer, cooking instructor, and the food and nutrition columnist on the Calgary Eyeopener on CBC Radio. For more information, visit And be sure to check out her and Elizabeth Chorney-Booth’s website,, or on Twitter, @RollingSpoon, exploring their mutual love of music and food.

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