This time of year I am often asked by parents what they can pack in their kids lunches that are healthy and nut free. With the limited amount of time some kids are given to eat, they need calorie dense, nutritious food.

Here is a recipe that was given to me quite a few years ago – I believe it originally came from the Running Room magazine, but I’m not sure. (I really would like to give credit to the original source!). These granola bars are more like granola cake but they are nut free, wheat free, but certainly not taste free! Add a piece of fruit and you’ve got a healthy, filling snack.

1 cup oil (olive is fine but has a distinct flavour – you may prefer canola)
3/4 cup brown sugar (I only use about 1/2 cup or less)
2 eggs
2 tsp vanilla
1 cup barley flour (available at the bulk barn – you can also use a blend of rice flour and chick pea flour to make them gluten free)
1 cup rolled oats
3 tsp ground flax seeds
1 tsp each: baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground allspice
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 cup finely chopped pitted honey dates (raisins, dried cranberries, or dried cherries work really well too!)
1/3 cup pumpkin seeds (sunflower seeds work well too)

Beat oil and sugar on low speed until very smooth.
Beat in eggs, one at at time, then add vanilla.
In a separate bowl, mix the dry ingredients except the fruit and seeds.
Beat dry into wet until just combined.
Stir in fruit and seeds.
Pour into a greased 9X13 pan.
Bake at 350 for 25-30 minutes.
Makes 24 small bars (which is good because they are loaded up with good calories)

Enjoy!

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