Tasty and delicious, pack these nutritious bars in your child’s lunchbox or your own! Make them your own creation by varying the dried fruits you add to mixture before baking.

Lunchbox Granola Bars

Ingredients

2 cups rolled oats 500 mL
1 cup whole wheat flour 250 mL
1/2 cup ground flaxseeds 125 mL
1/3 cup packed brown sugar 75 mL
1 tsp ground cinnamon 5 mL
1 cup raisins , chocolate chips or your favorite dried fruit 250 mL
1/2 cup sunflower seeds 125 mL
1/2 tsp salt 2 mL
1/3 cup honey 75 mL
1 egg, beaten 1
1/4 cup canola oil 60 mL
1/4 cup applesauce 60 mL
2 tsp vanilla extract 10 mL

Preparation

1. Preheat oven to 350 °F (180 °C). Oil a 9 x 13-inch (22 x 33-cm) baking pan.

2. In large bowl, mix together oats, flour, flaxseed, brown sugar, cinnamon, raisins, sunflower seeds and salt. Make a well in center; set aside.

3. In small bowl, combine honey, egg, canola oil, applesauce and vanilla. Add liquid ingredients to well and mix. Pat mixture evenly into a prepared pan.

4. Bake 20 to 25 minutes until bars begin to turn golden at edges. Cool 5 minutes, then cut into bars while still warm. Do not allow bars to cool completely before cutting, or they will be too hard to cut.

Yield: 24 servings. Serving size: 1 piece.

*Recipe and image courtesy of CanolaInfo.org.*

Viva la Mexico! Make regular cheese pizza more enticing and exciting with Mexican-inspired toppings & spices!

Grilled Mexican Chicken Pizza

Ingredients

1 Tbsp lime juice 15 mL
1 Tbsp canola oil 15 mL
1 clove garlic,minced 1
1 tsp chili powder 5 mL
1/8 tsp salt 0.5 mL
1/8 tsp pepper 0.5 mL
1 (3 oz/90 g) chicken breast 1
4 (10 in/25 cm) whole wheat tortillas 4
1/2 cups shredded low fat Monterey Jack cheese 125 mL
1/2 cups salsa 125 mL
1/2 cup finely diced green pepper 125 mL
1/4 cup finely diced red onion 60 mL
1/4 cup finely chopped flat leaf parsley 60 mL
1 cup shredded lettuce 250 mL
3 Roma tomatoes, finely chopped 3
1/4 cup fat free sour cream 60 mL

Preparation

1. Combine lime juice, canola oil, garlic, chili powder and salt and pepper in large bowl. Whisk ingredients together. Cut chicken breast into 1/2 inch (2 cm) pieces. Toss with oil mixture. Marinate mixture, refrigerated, for 2 to 4 hours.

2. Stir fry chicken mixture in large wok over medium high heat until chicken pieces are cooked and juices run clear. Set aside.

3. Preheat oven to 400 °F (200 °C). Arrange tortillas on rimmed, foil lined baking sheets. Divide cheese and sprinkle over tortillas. Bake until golden brown, about 6 minutes.

4. Meanwhile, combine chicken, salsa, green pepper, red onion and parsley. Mix well. Spoon mixture onto warm tortillas. Spread mixture as evenly as possible. Bake again until heated through, about 5 minutes. Top with lettuce, tomatoes and a dollop of sour cream. Serve immediately.

Yield: 4 pizzas.

*Recipe and image courtesy of CanolaInfo.org.*

Try this tempting new take on the meatball – it has an Asian-inspired flavor due to the sesame seeds & soy sauce! Use chopsticks for fun, too!

Korean Meatballs

Ingredients

1 lb lean ground chicken 500g
2 Tbsp sodium reduced soy sauce 30 mL
1/4 tsp pepper 1 mL
1 clove garlic, minced 1
2 green onions, chopped 2
1 Tbsp sesame seeds, toasted 15 mL
1/2 cup all purpose flour 125 mL
1 egg, beaten 1
1 Tbsp water 15 mL
2 Tbsp canola oil 30 mL

Preparation

1. In a small bowl, combine ground chicken, soy sauce, pepper, garlic, green onion and sesame seeds. Mix well. Shape mixture into small balls, about 1-inch (2.5 cm) in diameter.

2. In a small bowl, mix egg and water. Dredge each meatball in flour, dip in the egg and water mixture, and again in the flour.

3. In a heavy frying pan, heat canola oil over medium heat. Add meatballs and cook thoroughly. Serve with a favorite dipping sauce.

Yield: 4-6 servings.

*Recipe and image courtesy of CanolaInfo.org.*

Cake mixes aren’t just for no-holds-barred treats: they can also be used as a starting point for a great tasting, nutrition-packed power bar. These are great travelers for trips near and far, and are made entirely from pantry ingredients (i.e., no eggs or dairy products).

Vegan Fruit and Seed Bars

Ingredients

1 (18.25-ounce) package vanilla cake mix (check the label for egg or milk products)
½ cup quick-cooking oats
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon baking powder
2/3 cup vegan margarine, melted
1/3 cup applesauce
1/3 cup molasses
1 cup chopped dried fruit (any combination)
1 cup roasted, lightly salted sunflower seeds or pepitas (green pumpkin seeds), or a combination

Preparation

PREHEAT OVEN TO 350º
MAKES 3 DOZEN BARS
13 x 9-INCH BAKING PAN, GREASED OR LINED WITH FOIL

1. Whisk the cake mix, oats, cinnamon, and baking powder in a large bowl. Add the melted margarine, applesauce, and molasses, stirring with a wooden spoon until blended. Stir in the dried fruit and seeds. Spread dough in prepared pan.
2. Bake 18 to 23 minutes or until edges are light golden brown. Transfer to wire rack and cool completely. Cut into bars.

*Recipe and image courtesy of The Ultimate Cake Mix Cookie Book.*

Kids and grown-ups alike will love these chewy raisin granola snacks. They’re so easy to make and so much fun to eat, they’ll soon become your most requested recipe.

Raisin Energy Snacks

Ingredients

4 egg whites (or 2 whole eggs)
1/4 cup sugar
4 teaspoons vegetable oil
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
3/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
1-2/3 cups plain no added fat or low fat granola (see note below)
1 cup Sun-Maid Natural Raisins
3 tablespoons toasted wheat germ
3 tablespoons raw sunflower kernels
4 tablespoons sesame seeds

Preparation

In a large bowl, BEAT egg whites and sugar with whisk until smooth.
BEAT in oil, cinnamon and extract.
STIR in remaining ingredients; blend well.
Generously COAT 13 x 9-inch baking pan with nonstick cooking spray.
TURN raisin mixture into pan; pat to even layer.
BAKE at 300 F for 20 to 25 minutes or until golden brown. Cool 5 minutes in pan. Loosen edges with spatula and invert onto wire rack to cool completely.
CUT into 4 dozen bite-sized pieces.
STORE in an airtight container or pack in small plastic bags for on-the-go snacking.

*If granola is in large clusters, place in plastic bag and crush with rolling pin before measuring.

Snack Mix: Combine Raisin Snacks with one or more of the following: Sun-Maid Dried Apricots or Dried Apples, roasted almonds, peanuts or cashews, banana chips.

Tip: When there is not time to sit down to breakfast, bag these Raisin Snacks for a good breakfast on the go.

Makes 4 dozen bite-size pieces.

*Recipe and image courtesy of Sun-Maid.*

Batter Blaster

Beat the morning rush each morning with Batter Blaster – these 4 flavors of organic pancakes will make every morning a blast! Now that school is in full swing, families across the country scramble to find nutritious yet quick options to make sure everyone is starting the day with a healthy breakfast. Batter Blaster to the rescue! This all-in-one organic pancake and waffle batter comes in a whipped cream-like recyclable can for the whole family to enjoy light, fluffy pancakes or waffles in minutes. Just shake the can, press the nozzle, and cook! Topped with your choice of fresh fruit, a sprinkle of granola, pure maple syrup or agve nectar, and organic butter – it’s an instant breakfast hit! Plus, as the batter is already pre-made in the cans, there is no extra mess to clean up! Perfect for those mornings when everything is rushed!

Batter Blaster is available in four tasty flavors: Original Organic, Organic Whole Wheat with Brown Sugar and Cinnamon, Buttermilk and Double Chocolate. With just 80-90 calories per serving, which is 2 pancakes, it is a healthy way to start the morning.

There are tons of recipes on the Batter Blaster website, as well. For some breakfast inspirations, visit www.batterblaster.com.

To learn more about Batter Blaster, or to locate a store near you, visit www.batterblaster.com.

*Company generously provided samples and images for this piece.*

Make your own healthy granola that is simply perfect for an afternoon snack – plus, the whole house will smell wonderful while the granola is baking! Yum!

Granola Fruit Cups

Ingredients

1-1/2 cups old-fashioned oats
1/4 cup wheat germ (or oats)
1/4 cup chopped pecans or walnuts
1/4 cup chopped almonds
1/4 cup pumpkin seeds or sunflower seeds
2 tablespoons sesame seeds
1/2 cup maple syrup or honey
2 tablespoons butter, melted
1 large egg white
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup Sun-Maid Fruit Bits

Preparation

Preheat oven to 350 F. Coat a 12-cup muffin tin with cooking spray, or line with muffin papers. (A dark metal non-stick pan produces best results).
SPREAD oats, nuts and seeds on a rimmed baking sheet. Bake for 15 to 20 minutes or until fragrant and lightly toasted.
REDUCE oven temperature to 300 F.
COMBINE syrup or honey, butter, egg white and vanilla in a large bowl. Add Fruit Bits and toasted oats mixture; stir well.
SPOON 1/3 cup mixture into each muffin cup and pack firmly using the bottom of a flat measuring cup. Bake at 300 F for 35 to 40 minutes for dark pan, or 40 to 45 minutes for regular pan, until well browned. Cool completely in pan, preferably several hours. Gently release by running a blunt knife around edges. Store in an air-tight container.

Makes 12.

*Recipe and image courtesy of Sun-Maid.*

Individually wrapped and stored, these bars are the perfect “portable” breakfast in the car or on the bus.

Breakfast Bars

Ingredients

3/4 cup all-purpose flour
3/4 cup toasted wheat germ
1/4 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 cup butter or margarine, melted
1/4 cup honey
1 large egg
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup Sun-Maid Natural Raisins
1/2 cup chopped walnuts

Preparation

HEAT oven to 350 F.
GREASE an 8-inch square pan.
COMBINE flour, wheat germ, sugar, baking powder and cinnamon in a medium bowl.
STIR in butter, honey, egg and vanilla; mix well.
STIR in raisins and walnuts.
PRESS mixture firmly into greased pan.
BAKE for 20 to 25 minutes or until lightly browned.
COOL completely before slicing. Bars may be slightly crumbly.

Makes 10 bars.

VARIATION: Super Fiber Breakfast Bars
Replace 3/4 cup all-purpose flour with 1/2 cup white whole wheat flour and 1/4 cup flaxseed meal.
Replace 1/4 cup butter with 1/4 cup canola oil.
Add 1 teaspoon grated orange zest if desired.

*Recipe and image courtesy of Sun-Maid.*

Disappearing Finger Foods for Fall

Autumn has finally arrived. Leaves are changing colors and the air is turning cool and crisp. If you have been considering throwing a get together, why not try your hand at preparing some fall-themed finger foods? Here are 3 recipes that are sure to please friends and family.

Vegetable Kabobs

Break out your indoor grill pan and make some kabobs. A mix of colorful, fresh vegetables and a simple yet delicious marinade will be certain to impress your guests. Serves four.

Ingredients

5 cups of various vegetables such as eggplant, onions, zucchini squash, mushrooms and cherry tomatoes. Tofu cubes can also be added for protein.
¼-cup balsamic vinegar
¼-cup olive oil
¼-cup chopped tomatoes
2 Tablespoons maple syrup
2 Tablespoons chopped fresh herbs like basil
1 Tablespoon lemon juice
4 cloves minced garlic
¼-teaspoon salt
¼-teaspoon pepper

Preparation

Chop the vegetables into bite-size cubes and place in a bowl. Mix together the marinade ingredients and then pour over the vegetables, coating thoroughly. Place in the refrigerator for anywhere from 1-24 hours. The longer the vegetables marinate the more flavorful they’ll be when cooked.

Once marinated, place the vegetables on skewers, alternating the vegetables as they are threaded on the skewers. (If you are using bamboo skewers, make sure to soak them in water for 30 minutes prior to prevent them from burning.) Finally, place the kabobs on your grill over medium-high heat and turn once or twice to ensure the kabobs are evenly heated. Cook for 8-10 minutes or until light grill marks appear.

Chocolate Fruit Fondue

A warm fondue dessert provides the perfect finish for chilly nights. Here’s a recipe that is easy and quick to prepare and provides 2-4 servings:

Ingredients

½-cup of nondairy milk (soy, rice, almond or hemp)
8-9 ounces of semi-sweet or dark chocolate chips
½-teaspoon of chili powder (optional, for a little “kick”)
¼-teaspoon cinnamon
Graham crackers, fresh fruit chunks for dipping

Preparation

Heat the milk in a saucepan until it simmers, then reduce the heat and add the chocolate. Slowly stir until the chocolate is fully melted. Add the chili powder and cinnamon and stir until fully combined and smooth. Transfer the mixture to a fondue pot with a low flame and serve with graham crackers, a variety of fruit for dipping.

Butternut Squash Dip

Butternut squash is one of the vegetables that remind many of us of autumn. Pair this dip with pita chips and pumpkin seeds (also known as pepitas) for a healthy and delicious appetizer. Yields 1 full cup.

Ingredients

1½-cups (1/2-inch) cubed peeled butternut squash (approx 1 pound)
1-teaspoon olive oil
½-cup diced onion
1½-teaspoons chopped fresh sage
¼-teaspoon salt
Pinch of freshly ground black pepper
2 garlic cloves, minced
Dash of crushed red pepper
¼-cup chopped sun-dried tomatoes, packed without oil
2 tablespoons unsalted pumpkinseed kernels, toasted

Preparation

Place the squash in a medium saucepan; cover with water so that it rises 2 inches above the squash. Bring the water to a boil; cover, reduce the heat, and cook 15 minutes or until tender and then drain.

Heat oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add onion to pan and sauté until tender. Add sage, salt, black pepper and red pepper and continue to sauté for 2 more minutes.

Place the drained squash, onion mixture, and sun-dried tomatoes in a food processor and process until smooth. Add a tablespoon or 2 of water if needed to get a smooth consistency. Spoon the mixture into a medium bowl and sprinkle pepitas on top. Serve with pita chips.

About the Author

Vegan chef Audrey Summers loves having her kids join her in the kitchen, and enjoys teaching them safe and healthy habits. Audrey is also a content contributor for cliqstudios.com, a kitchen makeover site featuring hundreds of choices for kitchen cabinets and accessories such as knobs and pulls, and crown molding.

Cook up some delicious and nutritious dishes with your children with a little help from Sesame Street’s most loved characters! Sesame Street B is for Baking: 50 Yummy Dishes to Make Together by Susan McQuillan & Sesame Workshop is a wonderful way to introduce your little ones to the joys of baking using fresh ingredients with kid-friendly recipes for breakfast, lunch, dinner, snacks and even special occasions. Colorful illustrations throughout the book show off all of the healthy eats and treats, and the Sesame Street gang makes the whole process fun! It may be much easier to get your child to eat his or her vegetables when the dishes are named “Oscar’s Messy Green Stuff in a Potato Crust” or “Abby Cadabby’s Amazing Carrot Puff!” Full-sized photos of the recipes, detailed instructions, and fun facts throughout the recipe book help to inspire kids to develop good eating habits while having fun in the kitchen at the same time!

What did “Mom” and her little one create in the kitchen from Sesame Street B is for Baking: 50 Yummy Dishes to Make Together? Abby Cadabby’s Disappearing Strawberry Muffins! These muffins can also be made using other fruits or berries in season, so “Mom” used raspberries. They were fluffy and delicious, and tasted best warm, right from the oven!

Abby Cadabby’s Disappearing Strawberry Muffins

Ingredients

1 cup all-purpose flour (“Mom” used organic unbleached white flour)

1/2 cup whole-wheat flour

1/3 cup sugar

1/4 cup cornmeal

1 teaspoon baking powder

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1/4 teaspoon salt

1 cup low-fat plain yogurt

1/3 cup olive oil (“Mom” used organic canola oil)

1 large egg

2 cups strawberries, hulled & chopped

Preparation

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.

Line 12 muffin cups with paper liners, or lightly grease each cup.

In a medium bowl, whisk together the all-purpose flour, whole-wheat flour, sugar, cornmeal, baking powder, baking soda, and salt; set aside.

In a large bowl, use a rubber spatula to stir together the yogurt and oil, then stir in the egg until well-blended. Stir in the flour mixture just until mixed. Fold in the strawberries.

Fill the muffin cups two-thirds of the way full.

Bake for 20 to 25 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center of one muffin comes out clean. Transfer to rack to cool for a minute or two. Turn muffins out to cool further.

To order a copy of Sesame Street B is for Baking: 50 Yummy Dishes to Make Together, or to learn more, visit www.sesameworkshop.org.

*Company generously provided a copy of the book and images for this article.*