Man is it tough to find nut-free school lunch options, especially when nut butters are such an easy lunch box solution, or simply when you have kids who are obsessed with nuts and nut butters! I’ve been making these Fruit and Seed Bars for my family for years and they’re one of the snack and school lunch treats my kids request most.
Food allergies are a serious problem in this country — nuts being a particular culprit. Most schools in our area (and many around the country) have banned nuts all together, regardless of whether or not the kids are known to have nut allergies. Thankfully, safety measures like those or having designated nut-free areas in school cafeterias help protect the ever increasing number of America’s allergic children, but it can make life difficult for busy moms who rely on protein-filled snacks for their kids that are made with nuts. I can’t imagine how challenging it must be for parents who deal everyday with food allergies, so I’ve been spending a lot of time developing recipes which use protein and nutrient-rich seeds as an alternative to nuts.
Filled with oats, a mixture of seeds, naturally sweet honey, dried fruits and coconut, these bars have a nutty texture and sweet flavor that send jolts of happiness to your mouth with every bite. And they’re nutritious too. Sunflower seeds are packed with protein and Vitamin E, pumpkin seeds with magnesium, and flax seeds with an off the charts amount of omega-3 fatty acids. Add in all of the other healthful ingredients in this recipe, and these fruit and seed bars are just as sweet, crunchy, healthy, and delicious as any nut-filled protein bar you’ll find in stores. Even if you or your kids don’t have a food allergy, try making a batch of these bars. My guys can’t seem to get enough of them. And, it’s a treat that most schools will be happy to welcome.
Photo by Maren Caruso
Fruit and Seed Bars
- 1 Cup old fashioned oats
- 1/2 Cup Raw Pumpkin Seeds (also known as Pepitas)
- 1/2 Cup raw sunflower seeds
- 2 Tbsp flax seeds
- 1 Cup dried fruit (blueberries, raisins, currants, cranberries and/or cherries)
- 1/2 Cup unsweetened coconut flakes
- 1/3 Cup honey
- 1/2 Cup sunflower butter
- Preheat oven to 325 degrees.
- In a food processor, pulse the first 6 ingredients until finely chopped (it’s ok if there are few coarsely chopped pieces).
- Add the honey and sunflower and pulse until starting to combine.
- Pour the mixture into a 9 x 9 inch pan, greased then line with parchment and press down into the pan until completely even.
- Bake for 25 minutes.
- Let the bars completely cool before cutting with a serrated knife into bars.
- *Cool, place in Ziploc bags, label and freeze. Defrost to room temperature and enjoy!