I hope everyone had a wonderful holiday weekend – filled with family, good food, and (maybe) (just a little) sunshine! We enjoyed a few days together and certainly made the most of it: by cleaning out the basement! Well, not the whole weekend was spent this way, but a needed spring-clean was a feel-good way to ring in the season of newness, and clean out some cobwebs (literally!) It felt pretty good, and it’s a gift that keeps on giving.
A few weeks ago, a reader wrote me asking if I had any recipes for kid’s lunches that are yummy, portable, and nut-free.I admit I’m a little guilty of throwing a fruit snack or a little piece of chocolate (even a very occasional Oreo) into my kids lunches, as I’ve got at least one very picky eater in my house – the home-baked goodies aren’t a guarantee that is for sure! I’m not a big cookie-maker (or baker in general) – but I do like a good challenge…so I set out to make a treat that was flour-free, kid-approved, and still easy to make and (just a little) healthy. I’ll let you guys tell me how I did!
This recipe incorporates millet, which is actually a highly nutritious seed that dates back to Biblical times. It’s totally gluten-free and high in protein, so if you are new to it – it’s worth checking out for sure! This recipe can easily be veganized too – and I know at least a few of you who are pros at that 😉
Chewy Chocolate Granola Bars:
(1/2) cup dry millet
(1.25) cups cold water
(1.5) cups quick oats
(1) cup shredded unsweetened coconut
(1/2) cup coconut milk (or nut milk or regular milk)
(1) tbsp butter (or coconut butter)
(1/4) cup brown sugar (or sucanat)
(2) tbsp cocoa powder
(1/4) tsp salt
(1) tsp vanilla
(1) tsp baking powder
(1) banana (fresh or frozen)
(1) fresh egg (or egg substitute)
(3/4-1) cup chocolate chips of choice (I used medium-sized dark for this, 1 cup will make them super sweet)
Start by combining the dry millet and the cold water in a small pot with the lid. Bring to a boil, and cook, covered on low heat for 20 minutes, until fluffy. Once done, remove from heat and fluff with a fork.
Oil a cookie sheet lightly with butter or oil and heat the oven to 350 degrees. In a large mixing bowl, combine the cooked millet, oats, coconut, coconut milk, butter, sugar, cocoa powder, salt, and vanilla and mix well. In a separate bowl, mash the banana and add to the mixture. If you are using a frozen banana, skip this step and instead simply soak the banana in hot water until it thaws and add it straight to the large bowl.
Add the egg or egg substitute and mix. Add baking powder and stir one more time before adding the chocolate chips. Mix well one last time (don’t be afraid to get in there with your hands!). Transfer to the oiled cookie sheet and press until you have a layer about 2/3 inch thick.
This recipe doesn’t make quite enough to cover an entire large cookie sheet so I butted it up the edge of one and let it go from there trying to make the free end as straight as I could. I didn’t mind the jagged edge – the perfect tester piece before cutting the bars! Bake for 30 minutes. Remove from the oven and let cool before cutting into bars either 3/3 inches or 4/4 inches square. Totally your call how you want to cut these! Keep in a tightly sealed container at room temperature and eat within 2-3 days.
Moist, chewy, and sweet – these are perfect for the chocolate lover’s post-lunch treat! No wrappers or crumbs either. Serve kid-style with a cold glass of your favourite milk. With these treats fresh from the oven….that’s a match made in heaven! That’s a sweet way to start the week – even if you are up to your bunny ears in chocolate from the weekend.