One of the easiest and most loved snacks I make is nothing more than a mixture of chocolate chips, dried cranberries, and Cheerios. Yet as I pondered a semi-healthy snack to take to game night this weekend, I began thinking about the 7 little boys (ages 6 and under) who would be there. Cheerios get dropped and crushed. Chocolate chips get sat on and melt. Dried cranberries have sticking ability and could potentially end up anywhere in the house. So in an effort to stick them all together, I decided to try them in a treat my hubby has been asking for… Cheerio Bars.
I had never had a Cheerio Bar until a couple years ago. Never even heard of them, to tell you the truth. But we were visiting my husband’s family in Iowa on Memorial Day weekend. We joined his Great Grandma at her little country church for a Memorial Day lunch and tribute, and it was there that I had my first encounter with a Cheerio Bar. And it was freaking delicious!
OMGoodness… Honey Nut Cheerios held together with some sort of sticky peanut butter goodness. It was delightful! So much so that I thought about stealing the entire pan and hiding in the car to selfishly devour them all! But we were at church and I didn’t want Great Grandma’s friends to think I was a heathen.
After that, I just couldn’t get that delicious little treat out of my head. So of course, I had to figure out a way to semi-imitate it (even though I had absolutely no idea what a Cheerio Bar was held together with) and include the rest of the items in my boys’ favorite snack.
So I did what anyone needing info does… I Googled it. Then I took the easiest recipe I found and started swapping out ingredients. Those 7 little boys already acted like a bunch of wild monkeys who had just escaped the zoo. The less sugar the better. And yes, I know that honey is basically liquid sugar from a bee’s butt. But at least it’s natural and healthier. So I went with it.
My Kindergartener helped me make them. While I’m usually a control freak and uptight about messes, this was the perfect opportunity to let him work independently (a.k.a. work on following directions!) and help mama in the kitchen. Plus, who doesn’t get satisfaction from scooping and pouring things? It was like an edible sensory box for the kid!
I will admit that there was a mysterious raining of Cheerios onto the countertop and floor at one point, but it was quickly and easily cleaned up.
The only input I gave was hands-off so he could happy work hands-on with the measuring cups and utensils. Just an FYI… this kid is an engineer/roboticist at heart. He really doesn’t want help. He “can do it on his own!” Bet you’ve never heard that one before!
Not only is this a super fun snack for kids to make, but it also helps with the developement of fine motor skills and hand-eye coordination, things they need for scissor cutting and handwriting skills (and to play video games).
And… squeezing the plastic honey container helps kids with their hand strength (and patience)!
The only thing I didn’t have Connor do was press the mixture into the pan. Why? Well, let me tell you that our first attempt at making these Chocolate Cranberry Cheerio Bars was not picture worthy. They were a little too squishy. I’d pack down part of the pan over here and flip Cheerios out of the other side of the pan. It just didn’t go well.
Lucky for you, the recipe below is the perfected version. So you shouldn’t have that problem. We’ve put it to the test many, many times!
Anyways, the bars were a hit with the whole family! Our 2-year old was more than excited about them. Upon seeing all his favorites compacted into one delicious treat he said, “Dat look good! Me eat that?”. He later stated that the pan of bars was going to be his dinner.
My Kindergartner proudly
ate devoured his creation.
Hubby remarked on how “really good” these are!
And I was thrilled to get kitchen time with my biggest boy and satisfy that craving for Cheerio Bars!
The bad part about this treat… it doesn’t last long! We scarfed the first batch down and needed to make another batch to take to game night!
Chocolate Cranberry Cheerio Bars
- 1 cup honey
- 1 1/4 cups natural peanut butter - creamy or crunchy
- 6 cups Cheerios - any variety; we used Honey Nut
- 1 cup dried cranberries
- 3/4 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips - we buy ones that are made with a high percentage of cacao & real vanilla
- In large bowl, mix cereal and cranberries. Set aside.
- Combine honey and peanut butter in a large saucepan and set over medium heat. Heat until mixture just starts to simmer, about 2-3 minutes, stirring.
- Pour over cereal mixture in bowl; stir until evenly coated. Allow to cool to about room temperature.
- Mix in chocolate chips.
- Lightly spray 13x9 pan with cooking spray.
- Using buttered back of spoon or wax paper, press mixture very firmly in pan.
- Refrigerate about 1 hour or until firm enough to cut.
- Cut into 2x2 squares.
I hope you and your family love this treat as much as we do! Happy eating!