Avery McNew's apple oat bars are a hit with first lady Michelle Obama. Submitted photo

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Recipe nets Niles girl trip to White House

Published 4:36pm Wednesday, August 8, 2012

How delicious is Avery McNew’s recipe for apple oat balls?

Delicious enough that it caught the attention of the White House and first lady Michelle Obama.

Now, the Niles 8-year-old and her mother, Carrie Sponsky, are headed to Washington, D.C., where they will meet the first lady, tour the White House vegetable garden and attend a kids’ “state dinner” Aug. 20.

“I’ve never been into the White House or Washington, D.C., and I’m so excited to see it,” said McNew, who will be a third-grader at Eagle Lake Elementary in Edwardsburg.

McNew is one of 54 children whose recipes were selected as part of Michelle Obama’s Healthy Lunchtime Challenge, which asked children ages 8 to 12 and their parents to create a healthy lunch dish. More than 1,200 entered, and one was chosen from each state or province.

McNew and her mother, avid horse fans, got the idea for the recipe while visiting a horse show and asking a rider what horses like to eat as a treat.

“She said they love oats and apples and stuff. We came home, made these treats, rolled them into a ball and fed them (the horses),” Sponsky said.

“Halfway through making them, the girls started eating them … so, after that, we tweaked the recipe for humans.”

Some of the recipes will be served during the kids’ state dinner. Sponsky said all the recipes would be featured in a cookbook.


Avery’s apple oat balls


1 18-oz. can of old-fashioned, all-natural oats

2 fresh organic apples, cubed

1 cup raisins

1 cup dried cranberries

2 tbs. brown sugar

Cinnamon/sugar shaker/grinder

1 cup warm water

Mix a dry plate of 1 cup of oats and a few shakes cinnamon sugar and set aside.

Dice fresh apples.  Optional: Squeeze a fresh lemon over top to prevent browning.

In a large mixing bowl, combine oats, water, brown sugar, a few shakes of cinnamon sugar, cranberries and raisins, mixing with hands until sticky. Sprinkle in dry oats until desired texture reached.

Add diced apples.

With wet hands, roll palm-sized portions into tightly packed balls, just like making a snow ball.

Last, roll each sticky ball through dry plate of oats to coat and finish with 2 raisin eyes and a cranberry nose.

Keep cold. Store in fridge. Great paired with yogurt.

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