A nutritious, portable, and delicious snack or breakfast!
- 2 cups dates, room temperature
- 1 ½ cups peanut butter
- 1/8 cup cocoa
- ½ cup sunflower seeds
- ½ cup sliced almonds
- ½ cup dried cranberries
- 1/8 cup sesame seeds
- Remove pits from dates.
- In a food processor, combine dates and peanut butter. The mixture will clump in a ball, and never be perfectly smooth which is OK – just try to process out the big date chunks.
- Add cocoa and process to distribute evenly.
- Add the rest of the ingredients and process enough to mix everything together, but do not totally puree the mixture.
- Spoon mixture into pan (I use 8x8), and press flat with a spatula so it’s about 1 inch thick. (I don’t line my pan, but you can line yours with wax paper or aluminum foil if you want to lift the bars out for easy cutting).
- Chill for at least one hour.
These bars don’t have to be refrigerated, but they do hold together better when they are kept cold. These freeze well.
Serving Size: One 1 1/2 square inch bar
These pretty treats with a healthy bite inside only take about 15 minutes to prepare, and use just a few ingredients most of us already have on hand in the kitchen!
2 bananas, cut into 1-inch pieces
½ cup chocolate chips
¼ cup peanut butter
2 graham crackers, crushed into crumbs (or other toppings!)
- Line a small baking sheet or plate with wax paper to place treats on, which will fit in the freezer.
- Microwave chocolate chips and peanut butter together in microwave-safe bowl for 30 seconds. Stir, and continue to heat and stir in 15 second increments until melted. Mine take 45 seconds total.
- Working quickly, drop banana pieces individually in chocolate mixture and coat outside by rolling around with a spoon.
- Roll some or all pieces in graham cracker crumbs.
- Place covered banana on wax paper.
- Poke stick in the middle, almost to the bottom of the bite.
- Continue dipping until all pieces are covered.
- Freeze for at least one hour.
In the summer when berries are cheap and delicious, buy some extra and freeze to enjoy when the sweetness of summer is long gone! Use this method so you don't end up with an unbreakable, giant ball of berries stuck together in your freezer! You can either wash the berries and let them completely dry before freezing, or wash later when they have thawed. I tend to do the second method for convenience (I never allow enough time for the berries to dry), and if the berries are washed first they might not retain their texture and quality as well.
- Fresh berries
- Lay berries on a cookie sheet or large tray in one layer so they are not all touching.
- Freeze for a few hours.
- Transfer berries to a sealed bag or container.
- When ready to use, thaw slowly in the refrigerator.
- No need to thaw when using in pancakes or baking, just throw them right in the batter frozen!
An old fall favorite made a little healthier! This recipe uses half the sugar of most recipes, and has extra fiber and protein with the addition of seeds. The result is a salty, sweet and hearty snack treat!
- 16 cups popcorn (1/2 cup kernels)
- 1 cup pumpkin seeds
- 1 cup sunflower seeds
- 1 cup sesame seeds (can substitute chia seeds)
- 1/4 cup molasses
- 1 cup brown sugar
- 1/2 cup butter
- 1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar
- 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
- 1/2 teaspoon vanilla
- 1/2 tablespoon kosher salt
- Preheat oven to 250 degrees.
- Lightly spray bottom of large roasting pan with oil.
- Pop popcorn and place in pan.
- Add pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds and half of sesame seeds to pan – do not mix yet, as the smaller seeds tend to slip through to the bottom of the pan.
- Add brown sugar, molasses, butter and cream of tartar to a medium saucepan.
- Melt mixture over medium heat, stirring frequently, until mixture comes to a boil.
- Continue cooking at a boil for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.
- Remove from heat, and stir in vanilla, baking soda and other half of sesame seeds.
- Pour mixture over popcorn and seeds, and stir to coat evenly.
- Sprinkle about half of salt on caramel corn, mix, then sprinkle other half of salt and mix again.
- Bake for 1 hour, stirring about every 15 minutes.
Granola, the ultimate multi-tasker! It can be an easy take-along snack, breakfast or throw it in some yogurt for a parfait! The other nice thing about granola is how easy and forgiving it is to make. The ingredients are flexible, so if you don’t have them all just substitute or skip whatever you don’t have! Additionally, making it yourself can be cheaper and healthier! My son and I just made a big batch of granola together – adding and mixing the dry ingredients together is something even the youngest toddler can help with!
- 8 cups rolled oats
- 1 cup flaxseed meal
- 1 cup wheat germ
- 1 cup oat bran
- 1 cup sunflower seeds or pumpkin seeds
- 3 cups chopped nuts (use your favorites, either one kind or mix a few together)
- 1 ½ teaspoons salt
- ½ cup brown sugar
- ¼ cup maple syrup
- ¾ cup honey
- 1 cup canola oil
- 1 Tablespoon cinnamon
- 1 Tablespoon vanilla extract
- ½ teaspoon almond extract
- 2 cups dried fruit
- Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper or aluminum foil.
- Combine oats, flaxseed meal, wheat germ, oat bran, sunflower seeds and nuts in a large bowl.
- Combine salt, brown sugar, maple syrup, honey, oil, cinnamon, vanilla and almond in a saucepan over medium heat. Bring to a boil, stirring occasionally, then pour over dry ingredients. Stir to coat.
- Spread mixture evenly on prepared baking sheets.
- Bake until toasty brown, about 20 minutes. Stir halfway through.
- Cool, then mix in dried fruit.
- Store in airtight containers. Freezes well.
Use whole wheat pasta over white for more fiber, protein, and phytonutrients in this dish! If you currently use white pasta regularly, and want to try whole wheat, you can do the switch gradually by mixing half whole wheat pasta and half white. Gradually increase your ratio of whole wheat to white, and experiment with different brands to see what appeals most to you and your family.
- ½ pound pasta
- 1 cup frozen peas
- 1 head broccoli, or two cups frozen broccoli
- ½ cup ranch dressing
- ¼ cup milk or buttermilk
- Freshly grated parmesan cheese
- Cook pasta according to directions, however set timer for two minutes less than directions
- Add peas to pasta water, and cook for two more minutes
- Prepare broccoli (if frozen, add to water with peas or if fresh, steam heads in microwave or stove)
- Whisk milk and dressing together
- Combine all ingredients and top with freshly grated parmesan
*Cooked chicken mixed in this dish is also very good!
In honor of St. Patrick’s Day our pancakes turned green this past weekend. The key ingredient may surprise you, it was spinach! Adding some pureed spinach into the batter turned our pancakes a pleasing, pale green with the additional benefit of a bit of vegetables at breakfast! Even more surprising is how much of a hit they were. The taste of the spinach was undetectable (which is good in the case of pancakes) and the family liked them so much that spinach may be popping into our pancakes periodically all year!
What are the health benefits of spinach?
Spinach is high in fiber, vitamin A, vitamin C, folate and a good source of many other vitamins, minerals and antioxidants.
How to add spinach to your pancake (or other) recipes:
- Use a ratio of 1 cup loosely packed spinach per 1 cup of liquid (You can use less liquid and still achieve a nice puree)
- Add to a blender or food processor and puree the spinach so that it is very fine. You don’t want any leaf chunks in your pancakes!
- Add the pureed spinach to your pancake batter
With protein to keep the kiddos full for a while, and a fun presentation, this is one of our favorite snacks for kids!
- Ice cream cone (cake cones with flat bottoms work best)
- 1/4 to 1/2 cup yogurt
- Sprinkles (just a light dusting for the fun factor!)
- Fill cone with yogurt
- Add sprinkles