Lunchbox safe: nut, dairy, gluten and sugar free muesli bars – which are delicious too!!

Mr Incredible just got the following text message:

Cooked these. They’re awesome and may not be any left when you get home…. shall I save you one??

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Made with banana as a binder and whatever you have in the cupboard, these muesli bars are incredibly versatile and super duper delicious. In fact, with the fruity undercurrent and chewy texture they remind me a little of the roll-ups I had as a kid. They’re also super easy to make – no electronic equipment required except for the oven. I’ve passed this recipe on to friends who “don’t bake” as they’re really that simple and satisfying.

Thanks to a friend for sharing this incredible idea – we make these almost daily at the moment and each batch is always gobbled up faster than I can believe. I’ve adapted the recipe from Eat Your Greens.

Pick and mix Banana Muesli Bars

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup of oats
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • optional 1 tsp vanilla / honey / maple syrup
  • * 1/2 cup sunflower seeds
  • * 1/2 cup chia seeds
  • * 1/3 cup sultanas
  • * 1/4 cup dried blueberries
  • * 1/2 cup pepitas
  • 3 mashed bananas (to the puree stage)

* These ingredients are interchangeable with what you have in your cupboard – if your school allows nuts you can also add chopped almonds, cashews, walnuts etc.. You also don’t need exact measurements – again, just use what you have and ensure that there’s enough banana to cover the ingredients. To be honest, now I’ve made them so many times I’m not even measuring the ingredients out!

Method:

  1. Preheat oven to 160°C (fan-forced oven 180 for non fan-forced).
  2. Grease the bottom and sides of a 9-by-9-inch square pan (I use a silicone pan so this isn’t needed)
  3. In a large bowl, combine the dry ingredients
  4. In a separate bowl, mash the bananas with a fork until they resemble a puree and add the vanilla / honey / maple syrup to this if you want to use it (I find it’s sweet enough without)
  5. Pour the bananas over the oat mixture and stir until all the dry ingredients are evenly moist.
  6. Press mixture evenly and firmly into the bottom of the pan.
  7. Bake for 30-35 minutes, until firm and lightly browned on the edges.
  8. Cut up and place on a cooling rack (they hold quite a lot of moisture so a cooling rack is better than cooling in the pan or on a plate).

 

Cooking notes:

  • You can store them in an airtight container for a couple days, but I recommend wrapping them individually and freezing them in a freezer-safe container for up to 3 months if you don’t think you’ll eat them that quickly.
  • Mine were quite thin, If you wanted them thicker like a commercial muesli bar, you might need to add more ingredients and another banana to cover the mix. Try it as it is the first time though – then get your confidence up and experiment.
  • The chia seeds also help to bind the mixture – if you leave these out it might not work as well.
  • These are super easy to make with kids!
  • The more I make these the more I take short cuts and still have success. I now mash the bananas in a bowl first, then just top all the dry ingredients on top and mix it together – less washing and works just as well.

Preschool: the first step away from home

This week Adventure Girl started preschool. It’s a lovely community pre-school and we had all our eggs in the one basket for where we wanted to send her. We’d been there quite a few times, we’d dropped in unexpectedly, we went to a psychologist talk that they put on for the community, we went to the open day and every single time we had our choice confirmed. Allied health professionals all spoke highly of it, friends who sent their kids there raved over it… and so our choice was made. But it’s all the little things that lead up to the days like this that make you realise your little girl is getting bigger and one day she’ll be walking out the door into her own, separate life. Stopping breastfeeding and her feeding herself, no longer needing the pram when we go out, being able to have a solid conversation with her and enjoy each other’s company. Little by little it’s the every day things that change which creep up on you and hit home when a milestone like this happens.

img_0248She was ready… I was…. not so ready. So the night before I sat down with a glass of wine in a glass I use all too rarely and watched of The West Wing. I zoned out for a time, the back of my mind reflecting on these changes and the next day proudly watched her as she waved good bye to me and started the first day of her formal schooling life. Each day, when she comes home from her two days of preschool, I write in a little book what she’s told me was the best and worst things about her day, any other comments she’s made and what she ate in her lunchbox so I can share these with Mr Incredible when he comes home. This is how I’ll celebrate the little things of her life at this stage… and how I’ll be able to reflect each days on the highs and lows. For the moments that those fail, I might just return to my comfort food.