So it’s that time of year where we parents take a deep breath and realise we are about to become beholden to a daily task: The lunchbox. I’m going to challenge the negativity and stress that surrounds lunch boxes by reminding us all of something:
We have gorgeous kids. They need food at school. We have the privilege of preparing food that’s going to support them as best food can, to learn and grow as healthy and strong and steady-minded as possible. Sure we’re going to have the odd day – and believe me I do too! – where assembling food for a lunch box will feel like a domestic prison sentence, BUT as with all things, there’s a lot to feel grateful for.
Lunch boxes are NOT as hard as the food industry makes them out to be and we do not therefore need all the super expensive and refined packets they claim to have created to make it ‘so much easier on us’. Often, it’s as simple as believing something can be easy and stress free, and then up skilling until they are.
Somewhere I want to help you today is give you a frame work for a bar type of thing for the lunch box. I’ve shared a few ideas on how to make an easy lunch box happen too HERE if you need a little encouragement already.
- Most bars are full of sugars – up to 40% when they’re heavy on the dried fruits, sugar or syrups and honeys. I don’t believe there’s anything wrong with sweetness in our lives, but I do believe there’s too much of a sweet thing given the way we’ve evolved to eat sweet things sometimes even more often than savoury ones, often not even realising.
- Many bars contain things that preserve their shelf life that don’t benefit and sometimes hinder a child’s health – it could be refined white bleached flour, it could be highly processed puffed grains, genetically modified ingredients, additives or flavour enhancers.
This bar will be something you can make your own – I can’t wait to see the variations. I named it in the same vein as my Choose your own adventure CAKE. Have you made that one? Check it out HERE. It’s a one bowl wonder that you spread into a tray and bake. The whole thing mixed in 5 mins and baked in 20. What could be easier than that?
What you need
(This recipe is egg, gluten, dairy and nut free)
2 cups of small ‘bits’ – Seeds, crushed nuts if you’re allowed (not whole or too chunky), buckwheat kernels, desiccated coconut (I used a cup of a seed mix and a cup of a granola sample I’d received. There were all sorts of things in both)
2/3 cup of grainy bits – quinoa flakes, oats (if gluten is ok for you), cooked brown rice all as examples (I used quinoa flakes)
1/2 cup melted coconut oil or butter
1/3 cup rice malt, maple or honey (If you you want the bar to crisp up and hold in a harder style, do 1/2 cup.)
2 tsp sweet spices (cinnamon, mixed gingerbread spice, vanilla bean powder) These when rotated will give a different vibe to it each time)
Flaxseed binder – 2 tbsp ground flaxmeal + 4 tbsp water, mixed into a gel (sit for a minute before adding to bowl)
Chocolate or carob bar – Add 3 tbsp cocoa / cacao / carob powder and reduce grainy bits to 1/2 cup.
Hint of fruit – Add 1/4 cup dried fruit of choice
Protein enriched – Add 3 tbsp protein powder of your choice and reduce grainy bits to 1/2 cup
And of course the freedom of the 2 cups being whatever’s lying around in the seedy, nutty, coconutty department
What to do
Preheat oven to 180C / 350C
Mix your flax seed meal and water together and sit it for a minute
Mix all other ingredients well into a bowl, by hand.
Add flax mix and mix through well.
Line a small baking tray with parchment paper.
Spread bar out to about a 1cm thickness into the tray. It doesn’t matter if it’s a big tray, it won’t ‘sprawl’.
Bake for 20-25 minutes until well toasted.
Take out of oven and mark your bar marks with a good knife but don’t break apart or remove from tray.
Cool completely. The bars are ready to enjoy. How yummy does this minimal effort look, right?
So, voila! It’s a soft-ish bar. It’s that way because it’s the caramelisation of the sugar / fat that crisps along with the refined binder of flour that toughens bars up, but we’re trying to reduce a bit of all that, right? Deliciousness has been preserved, so a little softness ain’t such a bad thing.
When you make it: Be sure to come back and comment how it went for you and what you added in your ‘adventure’! If you pop your pic up on instagram, hashtag #lowtoxlife and @Alexx_Stuart so I can see them!
These will be a great way to add an item to the lunch box on high rotation that you can have committed easily to memory, while being able to be flexible with – This to me is one of the holy grails of conquering ‘it’s too hard’ in the cooking stakes – learning something, but also learning how it can be different so that you / your children don’t get bored, thus the ‘Choose your own adventure’ concept.
Enjoy! Real Food, happy bodies xx