This is my journey in keeping my family happy and healthy.
In this day and age, what parent knows best what to do and how to care for their family?
There are so many conflicting ideas, so much wisdom, and so many paths.
It is here that I will compile information on what I have learned and the choices I am making.
Maybe my path will help others.... or not. Enjoy!

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Nutrient-packed granola bars for the school lunches of a dietary-stubborn preteen...

So my step-daughter is going back to school shortly and it was made clear to me by her, that she was wanting to live off something like potato chips and goldfish this coming year. At one point I asked her what veggies she would consider having in her lunches, and she was like... oh I like those veggie sticks we got the other day! OMG she was talking about those glorified potato chips flavored like vegetables. There is no way in hell that is going to happen in my house. So with sheer determination and access to the internet, I set out to create a nutritionally packed TASTY snack that she would eat and would provide her with many of the nutrients she would be lacking the rest of the time she is not with us.

Granola bars are a great way to disguise healthy ingredients! So here's what I came up with....

Dry ingredients:
• 1 cup puffed rice (yeah I know this is not optimal but it adds a good mouth-feel)
• 1 1/2 cups oats (I used gluten-free oats)
• 1/2 cup pecans (chop with the dates)
• 2 Tbsp of raw cocoa nibs
• 1/4 tsp salt
• 1/4 cup coconut sugar
• 1/2 cup mini marshmallows (I know, sinful, but I figured it would help her want to eat them!)
• 7 pitted dates

Wet ingredients:
• 3 Tbsp chocolate almond butter
• 1 tsp vanilla
• 1/4 cup maple syrup

Prep an 8 x 8 glass pan with parchment paper and preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

...So the first thing I did is finely chop the pecans and dates in a food processor.

Then I added all the dry ingredients plus the above chopped mixture into a large bowl.

After that I added all the wet ingredients into a smaller bowl and mixed thoroughly. You could whisk it, but I just used a big spoon and pressed it to the sides to get it to mix well.

Once you are done with that, I added the wet ingredients into the dry and mixed well.

Pour the mixture into the prepared pan and press down firmly with a flat (slightly curved) wooden spoon or spatula.

Pop in the oven and bake about 10 minutes. 15 tops depending on your oven. I think I did 12 minutes.

Take out of oven and press down again.

I'm feeling really good about myself until I realize....

DANG! I forgot to add the chia and hemp seeds I had planned to. Gah! Of course I would forget the most nutritionally-dense superfoods! So I threw on a handful of each and pressed them into the bars as good as I could (you can see the difference in the picture below), and called it good. I'm kind of a make-it-work kinda gal!

Next time I will remember to add them in the beginning. I suspect I would add an 1/8 a cup of each....

Doh! I also forgot to add shredded coconut, so I would do that next time too!

Let the bars cool well! I would even recommend refrigerating them for a while, or even freezing (which I did for about 15 minutes). If you freeze them, and then add them to their lunches, I suspect they would be well-defrosted and ready to eat by lunchtime.

I am sure it will take me a few tries to perfect these bars, but this was at least a successful attempt! And they even stuck together well, which has been the bane of my other attempts at bars. 

YUM! They were delicious! Now to see if my kids like them as much as I do.....

UPDATE: Hubby loves them, and that's saying a lot! He says they're a combination between a granola bar and a fig newton. And my youngest daughter digs them too! Two down, one to go.... cross your fingers!

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