Snacks are an essential part of daily life with a little one. The help make up the daily routine, providing benchmarks in the morning and afternoon, and they offer little bursts of nutrition and energy right when needed. We go through phases with our snacking preferences but we always like (love?) snack bars.
Pre-kid, I made these trail bars a lot. We packed them on trips, took them camping, and generally ate them as much as we could. They are delicious. That said, I am not totally comfortable giving them to my two year old on a regular basis since they are filled with chocolate (which is part of why they are so yummy!). But I am pleased to report that this recipe for Nutty Flax Cereal Bars has similar flavors, less sugar, and they are even easier to make.
These bars, which you can cut little for the wee one and slightly bigger for the adults in the house, are packed with protein (from nut butter) and complex carbohydrates, fiber, and healthy fats (from oats and puffed flax cereal). They are sweetened with honey and you can add whichever kind of dried fruit you like. They have a hint of cocoa and there's no baking involved, so they are a cinch to make.
I wrap bigger bars individually so that my husband can pack one (or two) in his lunch and so that I can pop one into my purse when I'm out and about. Smaller bites go into a jar and I serve one or two at snack time. We had them last weekend sitting on our back steps while on a break from doing yard work (well, the little Miss was playing with a pile of dirt while I tended to the yard) and they were the perfect thing to tide us over until dinnertime: easy to pop into our mouths, slightly crispy, and soft enough for the toddler to easily chew. They also make a pretty fine dessert!
No-Bake Nutty Flax Cereal Bars
If the mixture is hard to stir, simply use your hands to incorporate all of the ingredients.
Makes about 16-32, depending on the size of the bars
- 1 cup peanut butter
- 1/4 cup honey
- 1 tablespoon brown rice syrup
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
- 2 tablespoons cocoa powder
- 1 cup Crunchy Puffed Flax Cereal*
- 1 cup rolled oats
- 1/4 cup raisins
1. Line an 8x8-inch pan with parchment paper, leaving 1-2 inches overhanging on two sides (as shown above). Place the nut butter, honey, brown rice syrup, vanilla, and cocoa powder in a double boiler or in a heat-proof glass bowl set over a pot with 2 inches of simmering water. Stir occasionally until melted and well combined. (Or, heat in the microwave in 10 second intervals until melted and soft.)
2. Meanwhile, place the cereal, oats, and raisins in a large bowl. Pour the warm nut butter mixture over top and stir together with a wooden spoon and/or your hands until well combined. Press firmly and evenly into the prepared pan and refrigerate for about 1 hour before slicing into bars. Use the parchment to lift the firm batter out of the pan, place onto a cutting board, and slice gently into bars. Wrap individual bars in plastic wrap and store in a zip top bag, or store in an airtight container such as a mason jar. Bars will keep in the fridge for up to two weeks.
* Crunchy Flax Cereal is made by Enjoy Life Foods and is available from most natural food stores and in the natural foods aisle of many regular supermarkets. (We live in a small town and they have it at our small Hyvee. It's about $3 per box.)
Use dried cranberries, snipped dried cherries, or snipped dried apricots instead of raisins.
Use crisp rice cereal instead of the flax cereal.
Add a few dashes of cinnamon for extra flavor or try Sunbutter.