Hello from the interview trail! One of the important jobs of being a fourth year is passing down leadership to the younger class – I’ve been busy with interviews, but I’ve managed to squeeze in volunteer events with my beloved nutrition and cooking organization CHEF.
We do a lot fun food related events – from farmers markets to cooking electives taught by real chefs to (my favorite) cooking classes with adolescent bariatric surgery patients. We also do a lot of community health fairs (we’re so popular we have to turn down requests, as we still need to pass our classes/rotations!) – most recently a cooking booth with Doctors for Change at a library in a very underserved community.
We made a huge amount of food and distributed to everyone in the library, which had a very large amount of homeless people. I’d heard libraries battling becoming de facto shelters for the homeless (here’s a great article by NPR), but it was my first time seeing it in person. It was pouring rain, so the library was jam packed.
If you give out free food, you’ll always be the most popular booth, but we made the people work for it by filling quizzes teaching simple facts on drinking water, counting carbs, learning about portion sizes. I’m sharing this delicious No Bake Granola Bar/Bites recipe adapted from Minimalist Baker, our “dessert” for the heath fair.
These granola bars are pretty easy once the dates are bended (that can take a while if you don’t have a processor) and really fun to make with friends. These granola bars are very hearty; a little will go a long way.
While I’ve seen lots of blogs tout them as being super healthy and guilt free, just be aware they’re only as healthy as what you put into it (i.e. be mindful of the store bought sugary peanut butter and chocolate chips added), but the perk is controlling the sweetness and your own ingredients. We actually had some homeless people, who after learning about sugars in the health quiz, decline these “dessert bars” to be “healthier,” so I’m glad our teaching points stuck!
This was probably the last time I’ll officially lead a CHEF event, as it’s time to pass the mantle to the second and third year officers. This organization has been my baby; while it’s a bittersweet feeling, it’s nice to end on this sweet treat.
No Bake Granola Bars
1 cup packed pitted dates pitted, chopped
1/4 cup honey
1/4 cup creamy peanut butter (the less sugar the better)
1 1/2 cups old fashioned oats
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1/2 cup dark chocolate chips
optional additions: almonds, raisins, coconut
Chop the dates so they’re easier to process. Use a food processor or blender to blend the dates to form a dough, adding water as needed (I used about 1/4 cup water, depending on how dry your dates are).
Toast your oats in a 350 degree oven for 15 min, until slightly golden brown. Alternative: you can also toast them on stovetop, adding a little vegetable or sunflower oil.
Mix dates, honey, peanut butter, oats, cinnamon in a large bowl to make the dough. Add in chocolate chips and your mix-in additions.
Once thoroughly mixed, transfer to a pan lined with parchment paper (so you can lift them easily later). Flatten the bars with a wooden spatula until even. Cover with plastic wrap, and place bars in a in fridge or freezer (my preference) for 30 minutes to harden. Remove bars from pan and cut into squares or bars. Store in an airtight container up to a few days or freezer for longer storage. Enjoy!