{GUEST POST}: Back To School Bars

Happy New Year! It's good to be back to routine and familiar rhythms, isn't it? Though when it comes to making school lunches, I'm sure there are more than a few of us who want to stay in holiday mode awhile longer. 

Let me help by introducing my very first guest blogger, Maggie Savage. I approached Maggie because I'm not only a big fan of her blog She Let Them Eat Cake, but of her beautiful outlook on family life.

Maggie

Maggie has dedicated herself to cooking and living gluten-free since her husband was diagnosed with Celiac Disease in 2004 and later made the decision to raise her two young children gluten-free as well.

Although we aren't gluten-free at our house, we've become more aware of the value of reducing processed elements in the food we eat, which naturally eliminated a lot of gluten.

In the past year, I set a goal of putting less ready-made and more homemade food into my kids' lunches. I'm not perfect, but I'm trying. 

Maggie does a great job of showing us that gluten-free is not only healthy but delicious. Her photos are gorgeous and her knowledge and creativity are plentiful. 

Welcome, Maggie! So happy to have you here. 

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As we head into the new year (I know, I can’t believe it either), I feel like I’m stuck in a lunchbox rut.  My kids seem happy enough with the same old lunches, but I’m ready to switch things up a bit! 

Packing a healthy, delicious, nut-free and gluten-free lunch isn’t always that easy.  I like to make sure every lunch has some sort of a homemade treat.

Here are some tips to help you switch up the lunchbox a little.  

  • Find a good, nutrient-dense cupcake or cake recipe, make sure it’s one that your child has tested and approved. Top mini cupcakes (I use a mini muffin pan) with chocolate avocado pudding instead of sugar-filled icing. Keep a few frozen so you can pull them out on a moment’s notice – they’ll be thawed by lunchtime!
  • Get a good cookie recipe too – I like to make sure my school-bound baked goodies are nutrient dense and nut-free. Baking with grain-free flours and high protein grains will help to balance out the sugar rush and make for optimum learning (and less tummy aches).  I like to use unrefined sugars in my baking too (sucanat, coconut sugar, maple syrup, honey).
  • Get your kids into the kitchen and baking with you.  I let my kids pick a recipe from one of my cookbooks, that way I know they’re at least going to try it.  And we always have fun baking together, plus it’s basically science and math in action!  They’ll be proud when they see their baked good in the lunchbox.
  • Instead of buying granola bars, try making your own.  Store-bought granola bars are actually quite high in sugar and oils.  Making your own let’s you choose healthier ingredients, and you can cater the ingredients to your kiddies tastes. 

These gluten-free, dairy-free, and nut-free chocolate chip granola bars are delicious and nutritious (definitely not taste-free). 

Maggiebars

2 cups certified gluten-free oats (if gluten is an issue)

1 cup pumpkin seed flour (ground raw pumpkin seeds)

½ cup raw pumpkin seeds

½ cup raw sesame seeds or sunflower seeds

½ tsp sea salt

½ tsp ground cinnamon

½ cup coconut oil, liquefied

1 tbsp psyllium husks

½ cup local honey

2 tablespoons ground chia combined with ¼ cup water

2 teaspoons vanilla

½ cup chocolate chips or dried fruit

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1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Line a 9×13 pan with parchment paper (put a little oil under the parchment to make it stick to the pan).

2. In a large bowl stir together the oats, pumpkin seed flour, pumpkin seeds, sesame or sunflower seeds, sea salt, and cinnamon.

3. In a smaller bowl, combine the coconut oil, psyllium husks, honey, chia and water mixture, and vanilla.

4. Stir the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients and combine.  Fold in chocolate chips or dried fruit. 

5. Use a wet spatula to press the mixture into the prepared pan.

6. Bake at 350 degrees for 30-35 minutes (watch them).  Cool ten minutes in the pan and then carefully remove the granola bars (still in parchment).  Cool another ten minutes and then carefully remove the parchment paper and let cool completely.   Cut into desired sizes.  Refrigerate granola bars in an air-tight container or wrapped in saran.  These can easily be stored in the freezer for future use.

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You can also be inspired by Maggie on Twitter and Facebook.