When Ali (co-owner, with her husband Tom, of Whole Life Nutrition) asked me to participate in her kid-friendly “Go Ahead Honey It’s Gluten Free” event, my first thought was, “Hallelujah, I’m not packing lunches anymore because my kids are all grown, ha-ha-ha.”
But after my initial jubilation, I had a sudden jolt of nostalgic sadness over the fact that my lunch packing days were over. Okay, if you must know, that passed quickly, but I decided it would be fun to participate anyway.
Plus, I’m into healthy environments for kids and a big part of that has to do with what they eat. My kids never bought school lunches. They went to a closed-campus high school and couldn’t wander off to MacDonalds (thank goodness), so over the years, I made a LOT of lunches. And with two boys and two girls, the lunches were often customized and large.
I love Ali and Tom’s approach to food, nutrition and parenting, so here’s my contribution to the lunch room party.
kid-friendly power bars
what you need
1 cup pecans
1 cup almonds
1 cup chopped dried apricots, unsulphured (I use organic Turkish apricots)
1/2 cup (2.5 ounces) dark chocolate, coarsely chopped, 55% cocoa content or higher
1/4 cup gluten-free rolled oats *
1/4 cup Pamela’s GF Baking Mix
2 tablespoons ground chia seeds
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon sea salt
1/3 cup pure maple syrup (I like organic, grade B)
1 large egg
1 teaspoon vanilla
* I use guaranteed gluten-free oats from Montana Gluten-Free Processors. Oats are generally safe for most people who are gluten-intolerant, but make sure the oats you use are uncontaminated and guaranteed gluten-free. Montana Gluten-Free Processor oats are certified by both the Gluten Intolerance Group and the Celiac Sprue Association.
what you do
1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper. Spread the pecans and almonds in a single layer on the prepared cookie sheet and roast for 6 to 10 minutes, or until fragrant and lightly browned. They burn easily, so watch them and stir once or twice if needed. Let cool.
2. Place flour, ground chia seeds, cinnamon and salt in a food processor and pulse until well combined. Add nuts and pulse until they are coarsely chopped and well blended with the other ingredients.
3. Add oats, apricots and dark chocolate and pulse several times so everything is mixed together.
4. In a large bowl, whisk together egg, maple syrup and vanilla. Make sure these ingredients are well blended. Add the nut and fruit mixture to the bowl. Using a fork, mash and mix them all together, breaking apart clumps of dried fruit and chocolate.
5. Spread the mixture over parchment paper onto the cookie sheet. Either flatten the mixture with your hands or place another sheet of parchment paper on top and roll out into a flat sheet, about 1/4 to 1/2 inch thick. Remove the top piece of parchment paper and bake on center rack of oven for 24 to 28 minutes until nicely browned. Don’t over-bake them. Cool completely on a wire rack before cutting into bars. Store in the refrigerator. Makes about 2 dozen bars.
If you don’t have kids at home, make a batch of these and use them for a quick pick-me-up while out hiking or skiing. They make great back-country power bars.
Peace, love and good nutrition!