September 17th, 2013

{video} Best Healthy Lunch Box Snack Recipes!

Check out this week’s installment of my school lunch video series. It’s the best one yet since we’re talking about awesome, easy lunch box snacks (snacks!) that are healthy, too.

We’ve talked a lot about how to put together a healthy lunch box. But, at the end of the day, none of my tips and recipes mean a thing if kiddo won’t eat what you pack. A favorite way to get my kids excited about what’s in their lunch bags is to include a healthy snack with mega kid appeal. Something snazzy, something that makes them feel like I’m treating them.

These are three of my best healthy lunch box snacks that get my kids jazzed about lunch time. It’s true that sometimes they eat the snack and leave the rest. It’s inevitable. But with snacks like these, I don’t feel so bad. They’re healthy and hearty, foods I can feel good about them eating. Especially my go-to granola bars.

Watch for all three ideas and be sure to bookmark this recipe for my go-to chewy granola bars. We love these and I know that you will, too. They are endlessly adaptable. Add whatever spices, dried fruit, nuts and seeds that you want. You can also substitute seed butter for nut butter. I’ve even added tahini before! And, of course, mini chocolate chips always make these extra special.

Whatever combo you go for, make a double batch. These freeze beautifully which means that you can have them on hand whenever you like. Just pack a square in kiddo’s lunch box straight from the freezer and it’ll be thawed by lunch time.

Go-To Chewy Granola Bars
(Can be shared with kids 12+ mos)*
Makes one 8″-square pan, about 9 large granola bars or 18 granola bar bites

3 tablespoons unsalted butter
1/2 cup light brown sugar
1/2 cup peanut butter
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
Pinch of salt
3/4 cup rolled oats (you can substitute gluten free oats)
1/2 cup dried cranberries or raisins
1/2 cup roasted almonds
1/4 cup unsweetened shredded coconut
1 egg white

1. Preheat oven to 300 degrees. Line an 8×8″ baking pan with parchment paper; set aside. Combine butter, sugar, peanut butter, cinnamon and salt in a small saucepan set over medium-low heat. Heat, stirring constantly, until the ingredients are well combined and the sugar is dissolved. Set aside to cool.

2. Combine oats, cranberries or raisins, almonds and coconut in a medium bowl; set aside.

3. Once the butter mixture has cooled, whisk in the egg white. Then, pour the wet ingredients into the dry. Stir to combine well.

4. Evenly spread the granola bar mixture in the prepared pan. Bake in preheated oven for 30 minutes. Allow granola bars to cool for at least 15 minutes before lifting them out of the pan with the parchment paper. Cut into squares and serve or place in an airtight container. Store on the countertop for up to 3 days or warp individual bars in plastic wrap and store in the freezer for up to 3 months.

*Note: While there is nothing in these that is unsafe for younger eaters (that’s right, introduced carefully, even beginner eaters can enjoy peanut butter and almonds!), I recommend them beginning at 12 months due to the sugar content. No matter how old your eaters, be sure to serve age appropriate portions. Just a little bit of this snack packs a punch with little ones.

11 Responses

  1. Lissylu says:

    The bars sound great! Do you have any suggestions for replacing the egg white? Could apple sauce work maybe? Or anything else? Thanks!

  2. Milena says:

    Can I add more nuts or it’s gonna be too much? Also, do you think I can substitute brown sugar with honey? Thanks :)

  3. One Hungry Mama says:

    Milena, yes, you can use honey, but since it’s sweeter, use less than the amt of brown sugar called for. I’d start by trying 1/4 cup of honey. You can also use more nuts, but it’s a pretty soft bar, so too many nuts or large clusters may cause instability! :-)

    Lissylu, you can try apple sauce or even mashed banana. These bars are already pretty soft and chewy, though, so I’m afraid that they won’t bind as well. You’re best bet might be chia or flax gel which you make by placing the seeds in water until they coagulate. Here’s how to make chia gel: http://onehungrymama.com/2012/12/all-about-chia-almond-baked-oatmeal-with-raspberry-swirl/ and I believe you can do a 1:1 substitute with flax, except that you need to grind the flax seeds first. They won’t bind quite the same way, but they help things *stick* together, which is similar. Let me know what you try and how it works!

  4. This is already the best thank you
    You can also take advantage of the : Healthy Lunch Recipes – Quick and Easy
    http://besthealthylunchrecipes.blogspot.com/2013/11/healthy-lunch-recipes-quick-and-easy.html

  5. Katonna says:

    Do you think almond butter would work just as well..my daughter is two doesn’t like things that are super hard to crunch on so I was going to omit the almonds but then remember she isn’t to fond of peanut butter either..she prefers almond butter

  6. One Hungry Mama says:

    @katonna – yes, almond butter will work. it’s a simple one-to-one substitution. let me know how it goes!

  7. Sophia says:

    Hi! I just made these and everything was good until I tried to take them out after I let them cool. They completely crumbled and didn’t stay together at all. Any tips? They taste amazing but aren’t really bars as they are sticky granola. Thanks!

  8. One Hungry Mama says:

    Sophia, how long did you allow them to cool? It takes them a while to really set. I said 15 minutes, but you may have to wait even longer in some conditions (temp, altitude, etc). Let me know, though, if you wait until they are completely cooled through and you’re still having the same problem. These are meant to be chewy, so they are definitely more “fragile” than crunchy granola bars, but they shouldn’t be a crumbly mess. I find far from it when I make these. Let me know!

  9. Kathryn says:

    Hi!
    Do you use the almonds whole or chopped? Thanks! Can’t wait to make these :)

  10. One Hungry Mama says:

    Hi, Kathryn: either way works but since they are soft and chewy, i find that whole almonds make them fall apart more easily, so I prefer to chop them. Also, see comments above re: making sure you let these cool long enough to “stick together.” My favorite thing about these is that they are chewy, but that means that they can also fall apart more easily, especially if they don’t have time to settle after coming out of the oven. Enjoy! Let me know what you think.

  11. Kathryn says:

    I tried a double batch as I only have a 9×13 pan and I ended up with just granola lol. Not sure what happened.. maybe I need stickier stuff. I subbed honey for brown sugar but otherwise just doubled the batch. I’ll try again! Makes yummy granola :)

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