Finding healthy snacks I feel good about serving, and that my kids love to eat, is no easy feat. And this is why I've fallen into the not-so-great habit of sending store-bought granola bars with my son to school in the past; the thought of making homemade granola bars seemed daunting and way too time-consuming. Until I finally decided to start making them that is.
Don't get my wrong, I know that there's nothing wrong with offering my kids healthy store-bought snack foods once in a while, but I've always felt better making things like cookies, granola bars, muffins and other baked goods from scratch. After all, I know exactly what is in them!
Homemade granola bars also make for great one-handed snacks for busy Moms!
My friend and Dietitian colleague Cara Rosenbloom is a culinary whiz and has recently written her first cookbook entitled "Nourish." She and her co-author chose to focus on family-friendly recipes using beans, nuts and seeds in their book--three nutrient powerhouses. Not surprisingly, Cara included a killer granola bar recipe in her book that packs a punch nutritionally speaking, but is also delicious and kid-approved. As a bonus, there are no nuts or nut butters, which make them safe to send to school. What I find astounding about these bars is that they are held together by only one nutritious ingredient: mashed bananas!
The various seeds that are included offer both protein and fibre — two nutrients that keep tummies full and energy levels steady and stable, and because of the bananas and dried fruit included, there is absolutely no added sugar needed. My daughter took one look at the picture inside the cookbook and asked if we could make them NOW.
Preheat oven to 350 F. Line a 9X13-inch baking sheet with parchment paper.
In a large bowl, mash the banana until smooth. Add cinnamon, vanilla, salt, oats, and barley flakes and stir well.
Add the toasted seeds, coconut, cherries, apricots, and dates to the banana-oat ixture and stir until thoroughly combined.
Spoon mixture into a baking dish. Press down until compact and even. Bake 25-30 minutes until firm and lightly golden along the edge.
Let cool about 10 minutes. Slice into 20 bars.
Recipe From: Nourish: Whole Food Recipes featuring Seeds, Nuts and Beans, by Cara Rosenbloom, RD and Nettie Cronish
If you liked this recipe, you may also like these Chocolate Chia Protein Balls and well as these Sweet and Salty Lentil Chocolate Chip Granola Bars
For more easy and healthy recipes (as well as nutrition tips for families and kids), visit my Facebook page where I post daily!