Tag: kid friendly

No-Bake Pumpkin Raisin Oat Bars {Dairy-Free, Gluten-Free, Nut-Free}

If you missed two of my most recent posts about the love fest I’m having with sunflower seed butter, check them out here and here.

As I’ve been mentioning, I’m super excited to be teaching a workshop called Yummy Snacks for Healthy, Happy Kids on September 16th at the Institute for Integrative Health in Baltimore. The workshop is capped at 30 people, so make sure you sign up ASAP if you want to come!

It’s going to be awesome 🙂

One of the snacks  both kids and adults eat a lot of is granola bars. This recipe puts a spin on the traditional bars because you don’t have to bake them (huge time saver!) AND they’re nut-free, so they’re school-friendly.


I like to test out recipes with my friends and family, so I brought my first batch of these to my church small group and they were GONE by the time we left. I had a group of moms and their kids sample them a second time, and everyone loved them. Some people had seconds (always a good sign in my book!)

Sunbutter Oat BarsSunbutter Oat bar Sunbutter Bars

Yield: 16 bars


  • 1 1/2 cups gluten-free rolled oats
  • 1 cup packed Medjool dates, soft and pitted
  • 1 tablespoon water
  • 1/2 cup sunflower seed butter
  • 2 tablespoons honey
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 3/4 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon fine grain sea salt
  • 1/2 cup pumpkin seeds
  • 1/2 cup sunflower seeds
  • 1/4 cup raisins


  1. Optional: Preheat oven to 350F and put oats on a baking sheet for 15 minutes until lightly toasted. If you’re short on time, skip this step, but it does add an extra crunch.
  2. Put dates and water in a food processor and pulse until dates combine into a paste. You may need to stop and scrape down the sides during the process. Roll into a ball (it’ll be sticky!) and set aside.
  3. Combine sunflower seed butter, honey, vanilla, cinnamon and salt in a small saucepan on low heat on the stove and stir until combined. You can add the date paste ball to the pot so it melts a bit or just add it in at the next step.
  4. Put oats, pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds and raisins in a large bowl. Add date paste ball and sunflower butter mix to bowl and mix with your hands until everything is combined. In an 8×8 dish lined with parchment paper, press oat mixture evenly and flatten on top. Put in fridge to set about for about 30 minutes.
  5. Remove bars from dish by pulling up on parchment paper. Cut into 16 squares. Enjoy!

Back-to-School Sunbutter Spread {Nut-Free, Paleo}

Now that I’m back from vacation and through the craziest part of the summer, I’ve been spending some time back in my happy place…my kitchen.

I’m gearing up to teach a cooking class in September called Yummy Snacks for Healthy, Happy Kids at the Institute for Integrative Health (click this link to register!) and have been doing lots of recipe testing and experimenting.

My friend, Lindsay, contacted me because she found out that her son’s kindergarten is completely peanut-free.

Like most kids, he loves PB&J, so she was looking for another option.

Meet sunflower seed butter AKA sunbutter :)

IMG_0739Just like its peanut and tree-nut cousins, sunflower seed butter is made by grinding up sunflower seeds until they’re smooth and creamy.

It tastes WAY more like peanut butter than almond butter does, so if you’re not a huge fan of almond butter, give sunflower seed butter a shot!

I decided to upgrade the basic sunbutter, as it’s commonly called, by adding in some hemp seeds and cinnamon.

Let’s take a look at each ingredient in this quick, easy, and tasty recipe.


These little guys don’t get enough love, but they should! Here’s why…

  • Good source of magnesium to calm our nerves, muscles and blood vessels
  • Anti-inflammatory, containing heart healthy fats and vitamins
  • The detoxifying and cancer preventive mineral selenium
  • Rich in compounds called phytosterols that promote healthy cholesterol levels

You can find sunflower seed butter at Trader Joe’s, Whole Foods, Wegmans, MOMs Organic Market, most Giants, The Fresh Market, and any natural food store. It’s also sold online at Amazon and Thrive Market.

Hemp Seeds

In case it’s crossing your mind, these hemp seeds won’t give you the “high” you’re thinking of, but they DO have lots of other benefits. They’re a great source of plant-based protein, high in healthy fats that naturally balance hormones and promote heart health, and rich in  fiber to keep us feeling full and satisfied.

For more benefits of hemp seeds, click here.


Cinnamon is a naturally sweet tasting spice that helps us regulate our blood sugar, which is key for sustained energy. Check out the top 10 proven health benefits of this super spice from the folks over at Authority Nutrition.

IMG_0742 IMG_0507

Servings: 2


  • 1/4 cup sunflower seed butter
  • 4 teaspoons shelled hemp seeds
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon (add more to taste)

Note: If your sunflower seed butter is salt-free and sugar-free, add a pinch of fine grain sea salt and 1 teaspoon of maple syrup for a touch of sweetness.


Stir all ingredients in a bowl with a spoon until combined. Use as a spread or dip for celery, apples, pears, Mary’s Gone Crackers pretzel sticks or sandwiches. It’s versatile and delicious! Make a double or quadruple batch to have on hand throughout the week.

The next post will cover another fun way to use this dip, so stay tuned!

**Remember, if you want one of the 30 slots for the Yummy Snacks for Healthy, Happy Kids workshop, click here to register and get more info!**

I’d love to hear from you! What was YOUR favorite snack at school when you were a kid?

No Bake Chocolate-Covered Cookie Dough Bites

Nom nom (vegan) cookie dough!

Nom nom (vegan) cookie dough!

When I was a kid, there was nothing better than licking the spoon from the batter bowl of a fresh batch of Nestle Toll House chocolate chip cookies. In my lifetime, I’ve probably eaten the equivalent of about 5 dozen cookies worth of cookie dough that way. SO yummy!

Think that eating healthy means “giving up” things like cookie dough? Think again!

I found a recipe for vegan (= dairy-free!) chocolate-covered cookie dough balls that I had to try. It sounded interesting, and I was really drawn in by the picture on the website, so I went for it!

Cookie dough balls scooped out and ready to set in the freezer

Cookie dough balls scooped out and ready to set in the freezer

I shared these with my friend Michele the other day over lunch, and she loved them! She took one home to her 3-year-old son and said she will definitely be making them with him.

The main ingredient might be surprising, but somehow it works! Chocolate-Covered Katie (another super awesome blogger) is famous for her cookie dough dip, which was used as the inspiration for the filling in this recipe. Check her blog out, too, especially if you have a sweet tooth!

The chickpeas and almond butter in this recipe contain fiber, which helps control blood sugar, so they’re a better option than traditional cookie dough, which doesn’t have any fiber and can cause your blood sugar (and energy level) to spike and then crash. Focus on adding fiber to your sweet treats 🙂

No Bake Chocolate-Covered Cookie Dough Bites 

Yup. These are pretty awesome. I'll add a little more vanilla and salt next time.

Yup. These are pretty awesome. I’ll add a little more vanilla and salt next time.

Ingredients (see notes below*)

  • 2 cups (16 ounces) cooked chickpeas (AKA garbanzo beans), rinsed and drained*
  • 3 tablespoons raw organic honey* (use maple syrup for vegan-friendly option)
  • 1 tablespoon coconut palm sugar*
  • 1/8 teaspoon baking soda
  • 4 tablespoons raw organic almond butter*
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1/8 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1.5 cups vegan chocolate chips*
  • I also melted about 1 tablespoon of coconut oil with the chocolate chips to create more of a chocolate shell 🙂

Click here for the full recipe from MindBodyGreen! The recipe calls for a double boiler, which I don’t have, so even though it’s not ideal, I microwaved the chocolate chips for 30 seconds at a time with the coconut oil, until they were melted. Definitely putting a double boiler on my wish list!

Ingredient Notes*

  • For chickpeas, I use the Eden brand canned ones for convenience.
  • Raw honey still has lots of enzymes and other health-promoting components intact, while regular honey does not. You can still use regular honey if that’s what you have on hand. Raw honey is worth trying though! Great flavor and healthy 🙂
  • You can find coconut palm sugar online (Vitacost, Amazon) or at MOMs, Whole Foods, Wegmans or Home Goods.
  • Don’t have almond butter? Sub in peanut butter for half or all of the almond butter for a different taste. Allergic to nuts? Use sunbutter made from sunflower seeds.
  • I use the Enjoy Life brand of mini chocolate chips because they’re dairy/nut/soy/gluten-free.

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