Cooking with Kids: Homemade Energy Bars for Lunches

By Bree Hester /

Making interesting lunches that my kids will eat is always a challenge. Add in the healthy factor that I am after, and it can be next to impossible. Lunch is a very important meal; they have used a lot of brain power and need nourishment to finish the day out strong.

When I am packing lunch, I am thinking about how much nutrition can get in a lunchbox and will they even eat it? Most of the time, they will. My kids are really hungry by the time they head to the cafeteria. If the lunch that I send is fun, and not the same thing day after day, chances are good that an empty lunchbox will be making its way back home.

1. Pack lunch (as much as you can anyway) the night before. If I am rushing out the door and I haven’t packed lunch, I will probably throw the first three things that I see in a bag and call it lunch. It will be uninspired and probably not that healthy. When I pack lunch the night before, it is one less thing that I have to do in the morning.

2. Lunch doesn’t have to be a peanut butter and jelly sandwich. Last night’s dinner can be lunch today. Make a little extra at dinner time and repurpose it for the lunchbox. An extra chicken breast can be added to a bun, or tossed into a salad.

3. Rethink lunch foods. My kids love crudités in their lunch boxes. When I am prepping dinner, I slice some extra peppers, carrots, cucumbers, and add some dip and olives. Hummus and pita. French toast sticks and some yogurt for dipping. Cheese and crackers.

4. Nowadays, there are so many cute ways to pack a lunch. Bento boxes, containers, dishes, and thermos’ make adding variety so much easier. When you are not worrying about leaking containers, you are more prone to send soup to school. It makes lunch easy to pack, easy to clean, and fun to eat. I cleared out a cabinet in my kitchen just for lunches, it makes packing so much easier. 

5. I try to send homemade snacks whenever I can. I try to avoid packages. It is better for the kids and better for the environment. I usually make one treat for the week. Maybe a batch of oatmeal cookies, pudding, granola or energy bars. After I bake them, I wrap them up and have them ready to go. Same with pudding; I have cute little containers and I portion it out and pull from the fridge as needed.  Just don’t forget to send a spoon. These energy bars are so simple, and only take minutes to put together. This combination is my favorite, but you can add and take away ingredients as needed. Just keep the proportions the same. To make more of a granola bar add a cup of rice cereal to the mix.

HOMEMADE ENERGY BARS

1 1/2 cups old fashioned oats
1/4 cup hemp seeds
1/4 cup sunflower seeds
1/4 cup unsweetened shredded coconut
2 Tablespoons chia seeds
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup brown rice syrup
1/4 cup peanut butter 1 teaspoon vanilla

Add-ins:

1/4 cup mini chocolate chips
1/4 cup dried blueberries
1/4 cup dried cranberries
1/4 cup pecans
1/4 cup almonds

These energy bars are so simple, and only take minutes to put together. This combination is my favorite, but you can add and take away ingredients as needed. Just keep the proportions the same. To make more of a granola bar add a cup of rice cereal to the mix. 

1. Line a 9-inch square pan with two pieces of parchment paper, one each direction.

2. In a medium bowl, mix together oats, hemp seeds, sunflower seeds, coconut, chia seeds, cinnamon and salt. Toss to combine.

3. Add brown rice syrup and peanut butter to microwaveable bowl. Microwave for 30 seconds, or until the peanut butter begins to melt. Whisk until smooth. Add vanilla.

4. Pour over the oat mixture and stir until completely combined.

5. Press into the prepared pan. Chill in the fridge for 30 minutes before cutting lifting the paper out of the pan. Use a pizza cutter or sharp knife to cut into small bars. 6. Wrap the bars in plastic wrap or parchment. They keep in an airtight container for one week and in the freezer for one month.

 

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