These are my back-to-school inspired berry crumble bars. Rose started “school” last week – by which I mean she started a 3 hour enrichment program, one day per week. But still! It seems like a big deal, and I may or may not have built it up in my head until I was oddly emotional about it. Perhaps I made a bigger deal of it than it was. Whatever. Time, please slow down, okay?
I mark any special occasion with food, and Rose’s first day of “school” was no exception. In the three hours she is there, she has two snack times. It seems excessive (I mean, how do they have time for anything else?), but I am never one to pass up a snack time. This is particularly true when I get to pack it in a cute little toddler-sized lunch box (I bought this one, and it’s awesome).
Anyway, her snacks must be healthy, minimally sweet and nut-free. Challenge accepted! When I think of “back-to-school,” the old standby, PB&J, immediately pops into my head. These bars were inspired by the PB&Js of my childhood, minus the peanut butter. I wanted to pack them with healthy whole grains, nourishing fats and protein. These are minimally and naturally sweetened, but still a treat by my (and Rose’s) standards. After all, I wanted her to open her little snack box and feel comforted and excited by the food inside. And so distracted, she wouldn’t even miss me (sidenote – she barely noticed when I was leaving, and casually said, “Bye, mama!” as I walked out the door).
The base of these bars is gluten-free rolled oats and chickpea flour, making them naturally high in protein and gluten-free. I relied on sunflower butter and coconut oil for healthy fats and a pleasant nutty flavor, imparting a flavor reminiscent of PB&J without the nuts. You can sub in any nut or seed butter for the sunflower seed butter. The addition of a quick chia egg helps the base stick together.
For the berry layer, I used frozen raspberries and blueberries, which I quickly pulsed in the food processor with the other filling ingredients. Cooking the berries from frozen eliminated the extra step of cooking and reducing the berries and, in my opinion preserved the berries’ freshness. Feel free to use whatever frozen fruit you have on hand.
These bars are a delicious, healthy snack for breakfast, snack time or dessert. They are great reheated with a scoop of ice cream on top! Rose loves these bars, and I picked her up with a decidedly empty snack box and comments from her teachers on what a good eater she is. That’s my girl! These bars are far from baby food, though. They are perfect for anyone looking for a nourishing treat. Have a great day! xo Maggie