Finding snacks for kids that are good for them AND that they will eat can sometimes be challenging.
These Apple Oatmeal Power Bars come to the rescue. They are soft (but not cakey), with a bit of chewiness from the dried fruit.
They have the sweetness of applesauce, dried fruit and honey, balanced with the nutrition provided by red lentils, oatmeal and flax. They offer protein, fiber, iron and a good range of vitamins and minerals (but the kids don’t have to know).
I make mine without nuts because my girls’ school is nut-free, and there’s no dairy so that my middle daughter can share them with her bestie. Vegans can switch out the honey for their sweetener of choice.
The cornmeal is optional, but I like it for the texture – especially when nuts aren’t an option. Cornmeal will make the bars slightly more crumbly, however, and a tiny bit drier.
These bars are easy to adapt, so you can use the basic recipe and change it up so no one gets bored.
Substitute pumpkin for the applesauce, pumpkin pie spices for the cinnamon, and toss some cranberries and white chocolate in the add-ins.
Or try banana, nutmeg, coconut and dried tropical fruits for a more sunshiny vibe.
(My husband suggested chocolate or caramel drizzle, but I think he was missing the point – not every baked good is dessert.)
To cook the lentils for the bars, just bring 1 cup / 250 ml lentils and 4 cups / 1 liter water to a boil, then simmer, covered, for about 25-30 minutes until the lentils are soft and the mixture has thickened into a mush. Stir occasionally to keep the lentils from sticking.
This will make more lentil mush than you need for this recipe, but you can keep it on hand in the fridge to add to your baked goods for some extra nutrition. You can add up to 1/2 a cup to most muffins without an appreciable difference in texture. You could also try it in:
(When you add the lentils, you may find that they have an odor that isn’t completely appetizing – but don’t worry! The end results will smell and taste just fine!)
This recipe makes 18 bars for a powerful start the new school year.
- ¼ cup / 60 ml ground flax
- ½ cup / 125 ml water
- 1 cup / 250 ml cooked lentils (see note)
- ½ cup / 125 ml applesauce
- 2 cups / 500 ml oatmeal (uncooked)
- ½ cup / 125 ml cornmeal (optional)
- 2 teaspoons / 10 ml cinnamon
- ½ teaspoon / 2.5 ml salt
- ½ cup / 125 ml vegetable oil
- ½ cup / 125 ml honey
- 2 cups / 500 ml add-ins (use at least 1 cup / 250 ml of dried fruit; you can add coconut, chocolate chips, nuts, sunflower seeds- whatever you prefer)
- Preheat oven to 325 degrees F / 170 degrees C.
- Line a 9x13-inch baking pan with parchment paper.
- In small bowl, stir together ground flax and water. Let sit for 5 minutes. Stir. The mixture will be thicker and a bit viscous.
- In medium-sized mixing bowl, stir together lentils, applesauce, oatmeal, cornmeal (if using, cinnamon and salt. Stir until the ingredients are completely mixed.
- Chop the dried fruit and other add-ins (you can pulse these in a food processor if you have one).
- Add the add-ins, flax mixture, vegetable oil and honey to the oat mixture and stir again until everything is thoroughly blended. (If you are using creamed honey, you can heat the oil and honey together before adding in order to melt the honey to make it easier to blend in.)
- Press mixture into prepared pan.
- Bake for 35-40 minutes until the bars feel firm to the touch.
- Remove from oven and let cool for 5 minutes before using parchment paper to lift them to a cooling rack.
- When cool, cut into bars. Store in a airtight container, or freeze for up to 3 months.
Place 1 cup of lentils in a pan with 4 cups of water. Bring to a boil and then simmer, covered, until lentils are soft and the mixture has thickened. Stir occasionally as the mixture is cooking to prevent sticking.
This lentil mash can be stored in the fridge and added to baked goods for extra nutrition. Lentils are high in protein, iron, fiber and a wide variety of vitamins and minerals.