Cranberry and Chocolate Chip Cereal Bars
One car. One thousand miles. Two days. Five states. Three kids (two in carseats). Seven thousand bathroom stops (at least). It’s called a family road trip. And it’s a bad idea.
Envision a road trip. You probably see yourself driving into the sunset on a gorgeous winding road. Maybe a red convertible mustang, top down, some iconic 70’s rock song blaring on the radio. Your hair blowing perfectly imperfect in the wind as you casually decide which direction you want to take. You feel wild, spontaneous, adventurous, and free.
Must be nice living in Neverland. Maybe I’ll come visit you. Oh wait, I can’t. Because I have kids. Which is why your road trip sounds dreamy and mine closely resembles hell.
Here's a glimpse into a real road trip...when you have young children.
I have to go to the bathroom (for the 2,467th time). He’s bugging me. I’m tired. I don’t want to take a nap (even though I just said I was tired). He’s kicking me. I don’t like this book. He took my book. I need water. I dropped my water. My DVD player broke. He’s still bugging me. The sun is in my eyes. I have to go to the bathroom (for the 2,468th time). It’s number two. My stomach hurts. He’s poking me. I’m cold. I don’t like this song. I’m hot. I want my Curious George. My phone died. I want my shoes off. He took my blanket. Whining, complaints, fights, and messes, for miles. And then, the infamous…the never ending…are we there yet?
We drove from Jackson, Wyoming to San Clemente, California. It took 2 days. Felt like 2 months.
There was a moment, somewhere in the vast sand pile we call Nevada, when I almost lost my mind. My twelve year old, who’s deep in his moody tween years, was complaining (again) that his iPad died, my two year old was finger painting with peanut butter and jelly on the window, and my four year old was asking where to wipe his booger (which ended up in my hair). I looked over at my husband, who was banging his head, like a blind zombie, against the steering wheel. I grabbed his hand, looked into his eyes, and saw that scene in Thelma and Louise. Not the part with Brad Pitt dancing around shirtless in a hotel room, that was a happy time. I’m referring to the end…the part where Thelma and Louise realize they have no where to run and they drive themselves off a cliff. It was a brief moment, but it happened. I'm not proud of it.
No matter how much you plan, how much you prepare, a road trip with young kids will be a disaster of some form. The good news, eventually you’ll get to where you’re going, you’ll be relieved, grateful, and happy, and you’ll forget all the sticky, painful, horrible parts in between. You may even do it all over again. Like childbirth.
What I’ve learned from my family road trips, snacks are the only thing you can count on. Batteries die, movies end, books get boring. But snacks? Snacks are gold. You can forget the phone charger, but if you forget the snacks…your children will go savage and eat you.
Enjoy the peace and quiet while they munch away in the back seat. Healthy and nutritious, of course, these treats are filled with almond butter, dried cranberries, Cheerios, walnuts, and sweetened with honey. And yes, drizzled with chocolate, because, let’s be honest, we earned it.
No baking involved, quick and easy.
Cranberry and Chocolate Chip Cereal Bars
* Makes 9 bars
- 1/3 cup smooth almond butter
- 1/2 cup honey
- 3 cups Cheerios or toasted oat cereal (not honey Cheerios, it'll be too sweet)
- 1 1/2 cups mini chocolate chips, divided
- 1/2 cup chopped walnuts
- 1/2 cup dried cranberries
- 1 tsp of coconut oil or shortening
- Line one 9x9 baking pan and one flat baking sheet with parchment paper.
- In a small bowl, mix the almond butter and honey.
- Heat for 30 to 45 seconds, stirring every 15, until it's melted and smooth.
- In a large bowl, combine the Cheerios, 1/2 cup mini chocolate chips, chopped walnuts, and dried cranberries.
- With a wooden spoon, add the honey and almond butter mixture. Stir until combined.
- Pour the mixture in the 9x9 baking pan, gently pressing to create an even layer.
- Place in the freezer for 30 minutes.
- Once frozen, cut the bars into 9 squares. Place them on a flat baking sheet lined with parchment paper.
- In a small bowl, melt the remaining 1 cup of chocolate chips and tsp of coconut oil in the microwave. Heat for 15 seconds increments, stirring in between, being careful not to burn.
- Dip each bar in melted chocolate and return to baking sheet. Drizzle any remaining melted chocolate over the bars.
- Place in freezer for 15 minutes until set.
- Bars can be stored, wrapped in parchment paper, in refrigerator or freezer for up 3 months.