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Some mornings can be overwhelming with two little ones, especially when we have to get out of the door by a certain time for something like preschool. One little tantrum or a missing sock can turn into a dragged-out fiasco. It’s difficult to be on time these days, but I try my best.

I have to keep breakfast simple because mornings are just hectic. I confess, if we are in a hurry, I will sometimes give my kids Larabars. It makes me feel better knowing that they are healthy and made with minimal ingredients. S loves them. I am honestly amazed at how a two year-old can eat two of these bars at one sitting and ask for more (I usually don’t give him more than two). But at $1.50 a bar, it can really add up at the rate S eats them.

With a great recipe I found from Oh She Glows, I can now make my own Larabars. The simplicity of the ingredients couldn’t have made it any easier to make a big batch of these energy bars. There are also endless possibilities of different variations (ie. walnuts, cashews, peanuts, raisins, dried cherries…etc.). I have found that Costco has the best price for dates. To make it even easier, I usually buy Trader Joe’s “Just Almond Meal” instead of grounding up my own nuts. It results in a finer texture than my food processor can allow.

E thinks these bars are chocolate bars. I am loving the fact that my kids actually love something that’s somewhat healthy and natural. H, on the other hand, has no sweet tooth, and won’t touch anything remotely “healthy.” It’s too bad because these bars are too good to be shared!

Cranberry Chocolate Chip “Larabar”

(adapted from Oh She Glows)

Makes 10 bars

Ingredients:

1 and 1/2 cups almond meal or raw almonds

3/4 cup tightly packed dates

1/4 cup dried cranberries

1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

3 tablespoons chocolate chips

Directions:

*Note: If using raw almonds, process that first instead of dates.

1. Soak dates in a bowl of water for 30 minutes. Drain and dry well.

2. Add dates and cranberries in a food processor and process until the dates are broken down into tiny pieces.

3. Add almond meal into the mixture in the food processor and process until the mixture are well-combined.

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4. Add vanilla and chocolate chips. Process until they are well-incorporated.

5. Line a loaf pan with a piece of plastic wrap large enough so that removing the content will be easier later. Pack the mixture from the food processor into the lined-loaf pan. Using the back of a silicone spatula, wooden spoon, or your hand, pack the mixture really well. The harder you pack it down, the better the bars will stay together and not fall apart.

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6. Freeze for 15 minutes. Remove and cut into 10 bars with a sharp knife. Wrap in individual plastic wraps and store in refrigerator.

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This week, I have been challenging my son, S, with baked goods with eggs in them. He has been allergic to eggs. Granted his reactions have not been life-threatening, it has been challenging avoiding food with eggs. The great thing is that he has been ok with baked goods this week! It has opened his eyes to all the delicious sweet treats like cookies since he’s never really had them before. The allergist did tell us that baked goods are generally not as allergenic because you only use a few eggs for a big batch and the high temperature in baking alters the molecular structure of eggs even more so than just cooking.

So this week, I whipped out my mom’s recipe for oatmeal cookies. It’s relatively healthy, not too sweet and packed with a lot of oats, making it easier for me to allow the kids to have them as treats. These cookies kept me fed during my college days. My thoughtful mom would bake a bunch of them for me and send them with me so that I could have something fast and ready for breakfast before my early morning lectures, especially since I had a hard time waking up in time for breakfasts at the dining hall. Then again, it was probably a good thing I didn’t make it to so many of those meals they served in the dining hall. They served a lot of unhealthy options back-in-the-day.

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The original recipe called for 1 cup of oil (!). It tasted really good with that much oil. It really did. But to make it a little healthier, I lessened the oil and substitute it with applesauce. You can use rolled oats or quick oats. Use rolled oats if you prefer more of a nutty texture.

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Healthy Oatmeal Raisin Cookies (Dairy-Free)

Makes approximately 28-30 cookies

Ingredients:

2 eggs

1/2 cup vegetable oil

1/2 cup applesauce

1 cup brown sugar

1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

1 and 1/2 cups flour

3 cups oats (rolled or quick-cook)

1 teaspoon baking soda

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/2 cup raisins

1/2 cup chopped walnuts (optional)

1/2 cup chocolate chips (optional)

Directions:

1.    Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Grease cookie sheets or line with silicone baking mat like this.

2.    Mix eggs, brown sugar, oil, and vanilla together in a large bowl. Combine flour, baking soda, and salt together in another bowl. Add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients. Lastly, add oatmeal to the mixture, followed by raisins, walnuts (if using), chocolate chips (if using).

3.    Drop rounded spoonfuls (about 1.5 inch in diameter) onto the greased cookie sheets. Bake in preheated oven for 12-15 minutes or when cookies are slightly browned. Remove and cool on wire rack.

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