Sometimes saying words out loud and not in your head gives them more merit or purpose – for me anyway. Talking with a friend today I was reminded of something that will help you make healthier shopping choices with meal planning for back to school. We know that what isn’t good for the environment is also bad for human health right? Well anything you buy that gives you convenience is also not the best for human health. Think back among the years of materials that have bought us time and convenience: telfon, non-stick, plastic, drive-thrus, etc. What first appeared (and was marketed) as an amazing time saver has become toxic for our families! This is why so many green bloggers are talking about packing litterless lunches with back-to-school. Not just because many of the litterless lunch systems are made from stainless steel, but it encourages parents to limit packaging surrounding children’s food which very quickly improves the quality of the nutrition, etc.
What are the biggest toxies I can think of? The two biggest culprits that come to mind are string cheese and yogurt tubes. Why? They have been packed into a bendy plastic that is loaded with plasticizers that are leaching into the food. These items are long gone in our fridge but with our busy schedule during the school year, I’m guilty of always having granola bars for my kids to snack on. Granola bar wrappers are not recyclable or compostable and this can be a red flag about the food inside the wrapper. Most granola bars are loaded with sugar, soy, artificial flavours/colors and contain preservatives so they can last on store shelves. I’ve been playing with different granola bar recipes over the summer and finally have a recipe that my kids LOVE. The homemade granola bars, unlike store bought are nut-free so appropriate to bring into schools with allergies and are more like a powerbar, packed with whole foods that are filling & heavy making them the perfect snack. My thanks to the site allrecipies.com for the original recipe and I’ve incorporated some changes and love the results. I noticed in the comments that some parents even remove the 1 egg so it could be further modified to be sensitive to more allergies if necessary.
I now double the recipe every Sunday and the bars usually last until Thursday in this house. I plan to double this batch and make banana bread on Sundays each week to minimize feeling the need to buy store bought snacks. The fact that my very fussy 1st born loves these granola bars so much is very gratifying. It’s funny because my 2nd son was helping me make the bars and noticed me adding apple sauce. First thing he says to me is “don’t let Francesco see what you’re putting in these” since he knows his brother so well. It’s easier to trick even the fussiest of eaters with the different modifications and here’s how!
2 cups rolled oats
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
1/2 cup wheat germ
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 cup all-purpose flour (I use half and half with whole wheat flour and all-purpose)
3/4 cup raisins (optional) (I use chocolate chips)
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup honey
1 egg, beaten
1/4 cup oil
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/2 cup apple sauce
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Generously grease a 9×13 inch baking pan.
In a large bowl, mix together the oats, brown sugar, wheat germ, cinnamon, flour, chocolate chips and salt. Make a well in the center, and pour in the honey, egg, oil, vanilla, and apple sauce. Mix well using your hands. Pat the mixture evenly into the prepared pan.
Bake for 20-30 minutes in the preheated oven, until the bars begin to turn golden at the edges. Cool for 5 minutes, then cut into bars while still warm. Do not allow the bars to cool completely before cutting, or they will be too hard to cut.
I cut into square and leave in an air tight container on my counter. These bars are gone in days and fit into any size lunch container for lunch packing. Buy these ingredients in bulk if you don’t already have them – you’ll be making them a lot!