Saturday, September 19, 2015

How to Make Healthy Energy Bars With No Added Sugar For Kids


If I had to give myself a grade for parenting, it would be, "Needs Improvement." This may surprise you since I am an absolute delight with my kids on my YouTube videos. That's the power of editing. I was listening to an NPR interview of Sonia Manzano, who played "Maria" on Sesame Street for forty-four years. When asked how similar Sonia is to the iconic character she played, she said that Maria is the more patient, caring, and better version of herself.

One of the reasons I enjoy doing videos is that "Doctor Chris Ko" represents the better version of the kind of parent I strive to be. In actuality, I struggle mightily to be a good parent. I fight to control my temper on a daily basis. I have to constantly remind myself to work on my communication style. And, I have regular exercises in patience building. If only I could edit out all the mistakes I've made as a parent.

I recently read a couple of books by Martin Seligman, a noted psychologist who discovered learned helplessness and founded the positive psychology movement. From Dr. Seligman, I learned that I had a bad habit of calling Colin a "Bad boy" when he misbehaved. Such labeling can have a negative effect on the way he thinks about himself. Instead, now I try to be specific about calling the behavior bad, not the boy.

I also recently started playing "Dreamland" with Colin, a bedtime ritual espoused by Dr. Seligman. During this nightly game, I ask Colin what was bad and good about his day. Last night, Colin said that one bad thing was when he didn't share a toy with his sister, Cailya. He went on to describe how he felt in that situation, how he walked away to calm himself down, and how he was later able to return to the situation. I was surprised and impressed with the insight he expressed. Afterward, he said that he would dream about how good it feels to listen to me and his mom. Stay tuned. I'll let you know how this story turns out.

In an effort to become the dad I want to be, I decided to channel one of my role models growing up...Mr. Fred Rogers. Always patient and always kind, Mr. Rogers believed in the unique potential of each and every child. In this video, I invite you to join me in Dr. Ko's neighborhood, a positive food environment where kids can thrive eating 3-ingredient energy bars with no added sugar.


  1. Would this be too sweet for the kids? Besides dried dates and berries , are there other healthy and less sweet items could be added for the binding purpose?

  2. I appreciate the comment. Indeed, dates are quite sweet. Also, while sugar from whole fruits is healthier than added refined sugar, you don't want to get carried away with any sweetener. The stickiness of the dried dates was important for binding. However, instead of dried cherries, I also tried this recipe using dried apricots, which are much lower in glycemic index. This reduced the sweetness of the bars, but they were still very good. You can always use less dates or increase the proportion of other dried fruits and nuts to your liking. I hope that helps! Thanks for the comment!


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