Chocolate Chunk Granola Bars

School has started, and my cupboards are now filled with tiny packets of ‘suitable’ school snacks. It is a particular bug-bear of mine, the whole school snack thing. I grew up without a school snack and didn’t seem to suffer for it. I also find my children eat their main meals much better when they don’t have a regular snack each day, which is why I cut them out. Then again, I also know how difficult it can be at school not having something everyone else has. So I have given in and jumped on the snack band-wagon like everyone else.

Now my grievances don’t stop here. Nuts are a huge problem. I also am very lucky that none of my children don’t suffer a nut allergy, which can be worrying when your little ones are out of your sight and therefore control. Our issue is dairy, for one of them at least. So this makes my snacks a real issue. Honestly, there is a huge gap in the market for healthy, dairy-free, nut-free school snacks. I loathe that my cupboard is filled with things made of chocolate and crisps. It is something I never wanted to get into. Even jellied sweet – which I console myself by buying those made with fruit juice. (Although I think we are not under any real allusions about their lack of health benefits.)

Now, on the best of days, I really struggle to get my kids to eat vegetables. Fruit is good, and we work with that already. I try to give them a piece of fruit in their snack pack everyday – we need two snacks, just in case you are wondering why I didn’t stop there. So, the one is the culprit. I am also really lucky I am not worried about my children’s diet and their weight. They are all relatively slim and haven’t got an extra ounce on them. However, it doesn’t make me any happier that they are getting snacks I wouldn’t be happy giving them if I wasn’t stuck trying to find anything else.

So, I am desperately trying to compile a stash of recipes for nut-free, dairy-free snacks which are out with different cuts of fruit or vegetables with some kind of dip or yet another granola bar recipe. Things which can ideally be prepared in advance, even frozen, so they are ready to pop into the lunch box. If you happen to have some amazing go-to recipes, please share them here for me!!

Meanwhile, here is a great recipe without too much sugar or fat which I came by from the Smitten Kitchen. It does have chocolate in it but you could always swap this out with cacao nibs (my kids aren’t a big fan) or more fruit if you prefer. We tried it with chopped apricots, which got picked out, and now I have replaced it with a mix of a few other types of dried fruits.

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Adapted from Smitten Kitchen

20 x 20 cm square tin, lined

Oven 175 C / 350 F

  • 100g (1 1/4 cup) Rolled Oats
  • 20g (1/4 cup) Rolled Oats, finely ground (I did this in the food processor)
  • 60g (3/4 cup) Shredded Coconut (If you are using desiccated coconut, add 1 Tbsp boiling water to this in a small bowl to moisten it.)
  • 65g (1/3 cup) Uncooked Quinoa or Millet
  • 1/2 tsp Sea Salt
  • 1/4 tsp Cinnamon
  • 140g (1 cup) Dried Fruit, chopped into small pieces
  • 170g (1 cup) Chocolate Chips or Chocolate, chopped into chunks
  • 65g (1/4 cup) Tahini, Sunflower Seed Butter, or other alternative
  • 4 Tbsp (1/4 cup) Coconut Oil, melted, or Olive Oil
  • 4 Tbsp (1/4 cup) Maple Syrup or Honey (or a mix of both)

Put all the dry ingredients together into a large bowl; oats, coconut, quinoa/millet, salt, cinnamon, chocolate and fruit. Mix them through so the ingredients are evenly distributed.

In another bowl, or large measuring jug, mix together the seed butter with the oil and maple syrup/honey until smooth and creamy. Then pour this into the bowl of dry ingredients and mix through well. Decant the mixture into your lined tin and press down firmly and evenly until it is flat on the top.

Put into your pre-heated oven for 25-30 mins. The edges will be a light golden brown. Remove from the oven and leave to cool completely in the tin. Once cool, place in the fridge for 15-20 minutes before cutting into 16  5 x 5 cm squares. These can be stored at room temperature in an airtight container for a week, or in the freezer for 3 months.

 

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