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Ashley Pettit shared one of her favorite kid-friendly recipes, Chocolate Banana Pancakes, as the kids head back-to-school. It’s a healthy, flavorful recipe that little ones will have a hard time saying ‘no’ to!

Ashley says, “My biggest challenge with my 3 ½ year old daughter is getting her to sit down for breakfast. The only thing I can do is make it impossible for her to say no! These banana-chocolate pancakes are a great incentive, while healthier than regular pancakes, so parents don’t have to feel guilty or worry about plying their kids with sugar first thing in the morning!

Chocolate Banana Pancakes

Ingredients

2 cups oat flour, gluten-free
2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp sea salt
1/2 tsp cinnamon
3/4 cup plain greek yogurt
1 cup unsweetened hemp or oat milk (“Mom‘ prefers Banana Wave Bananamilk)
1 egg
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 bananas, sliced (wait to slice them for when you serve the pancakes so they do not brown)
1/3 cup mini dark chocolate chips, to top
Coconut oil for pan – tip: to save on fat, use the coconut oil spray!

Preparation

1. In a medium bowl, mix together the dry ingredients; flour, baking soda, salt, + cinnamon

2. In a smaller mixing bowl, combine the wet ingredients: yogurt, milk, egg, + vanilla.

3. Mix the wet ingredients slowly into the dry- mix well.

4. Heat a skillet over medium heat + spray with the cooking oil.

5. Using a 1/3 cup measuring cup, pour the batter into the skillet. Cook for 3 minutes, then flip + continue until lightly browned. Continue to cook the entirety of the batter.

6. When ready-to-serve; top with 1 TBSP chocolate chips + some banana slices!

Makes 8 pancakes.

Ashley’s Tip: Make the pancake base plain so you can change toppings throughout the week. Double the recipe, save half fresh + freeze the rest for the following week. Parents need more free time outside of the kitchen after all!

*Recipe and image courtesy of Nutritionist Ashley Pettit, of Living with Ashley.*

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18 Healthy Lunchbox & After School Snacks for Kids

Time for a lunchbox makeover as the school year starts! Ditch the junk and sugar-laden snacks, and tuck these healthy items into your child’s lunchbox instead!

1. Slammers Super Food Snacks

Fuel for school! Perfect for lunches and after school sports, Slammers Super Food Snacks were created to be delicious & instant organic fuel for active kids. Packed with superfoods, two of the flavors (Watermelon Kiwi Burst and Pomegranate Grape Crush) contain 7 grams of protein for growing bodies. In addition to these two flavors, Slammers Super Food Snacks offers 3 additional tasty varieties, EPIC (mangoes, bananas, oranges, carrots, Greek yogurt & real vanilla), AWESOME (bananas, blueberries, strawberries, beets, acai, & amaranth) and CHILL’N (bananas, blueberries, butternut squash, Greek yogurt & yumberry). Slammers Snacks can be purchased nationwide at Target, Safeway, Kroger, Costco and Walmart.

2. Rule Breaker Snacks

Rule Breaker Snacks harness the power of beans (yes, beans!) along with oats and other wholesome ingredients to create truly delicious, indulgent and guilt-free goodies. That’s right, Rule Breaker Deep Chocolate Brownies and Chocolate Chunk Blondies are made with chickpeas (they are the first ingredient!), but you’d never know it from the rich delicious flavor and texture. Perfect for anyone looking for a treat they feel better about eating, Rule Breaker snacks contain 3 grams of protein, 3 grams of fiber and are gluten-free, 100% plant-based (vegan), nut-free and top 8 allergen-free.

3. Banana Wave

Created from one of nature’s most universally-loved fruits, the banana, BANANA WAVE bananamilk is a delicious, creamy and nutrient-filled new option. Derived from an ancient African recipe that has been passed down for generations, BANANA WAVE bananamilk begins with a universally loved fruit that is a staple in most households – bananas. Because BANANA WAVE bananamilk begins with pure banana puree, one serving contains as much potassium as a small banana, 330 mg, and also contains 29 vitamins and minerals and 1200 mg of Omega-3s per serving. BANANA WAVE bananamilk is vegan, all natural, dairy, gluten and GMO-free.

4. Sneaky Chef No-Nut Butter

Sneaky Chef No-Nut Butter is an award-winning peanut-butter alternative made from naturally sweet and “nutty” tasting golden peas (with yes, more veggie protein!), but without a trace of peanuts, tree nuts, seeds, or soy. Available in Creamy and Chocolate (which has more protein and half the sugar of other chocolate spreads!), Sneaky Chef No-Nut Butter is so good everyone will love it allergies or not.

5. Pure Organic Layered Fruit Bars

Pure Organic Layered Fruit Bars, available in Strawberry Banana and Pineapple Passionfruit flavors, are dual-flavored, triple-layered fruit snacks produced in a nut free facility, making them the ideal on-the-go, allergy-friendly snack for kids and families! Compared to other mainstream fruit snack brands that may contain artificial additives and preservatives, Pure Organic takes a cleaner and more transparent approach, using all organic fruit and vegetable juices and purees with no artificial flavors, preservatives, or synthetic colors. Both kids and adults love them!

6. Wicked Crisps

Wicked Crisps, a surprisingly healthful snack with an irresistible taste, are chock full of nutrition from veggies, herbs and spices. A guilt-free treat for taste buds, Wicked Crisps are available in seven delicious flavors like Cheesy Cheese Pizza, Spinach Parmesan, Spring Vegetable Medley, Sweet Potato Soufflé and Red Curry Hummus (our daughter’s fave!), that combine the protein and goodness from vegetables in a crisp that is formulated without GMOs, gluten or non-organic ingredients. Wicked Crisps are deliciously deceptive nutrition!

7. Kalot Superfood

Kalot Superfood offers nutritional nut and seed butters blended with fruits, spices and a custom vitamin blend that provides up to 50% of the Daily Value for a nutrient-rich and tasty treat that can be seamlessly incorporated into hectic routines to keep bodies full, fueled and healthy. Kalot Superfood is available in nine delicious varieties including Almond Butter blends: Blueberry Cinnamon Walnut; Cherry Vanilla; Dark Chocolate Coconut; Espresso Hazelnut; Chia Cashew Butter Blends: Blueberry Vanilla; White Chocolate Strawberry; Chocolate Chip and Sunflower Seed Butter Blends: Cinnamon Apple; Chocolate Cherry.

8. HEROFUEL

Need a quick, protein-packed snack for your child’s after school sports game or activity? HEROFUEL has 10g of protein, only 6-8g sugar, the right amount of fiber and carbs for kids playing sports, or just being active! It’s the first and only sports bar made specifically for kids! Kids love the taste, parents love the nutrition. Available in kid-sized portions in two delicious flavors, Chocolate Chip Brownie and Cookies & Cream.

9. Nature’s Crush

Nature’s Crush Microwave Popcorn is a revolutionary new all-natural microwave popcorn. Different because it uses real herbs and spices, not artificial flavors, colors or preservatives, to create a gourmet popcorn experience. Nature’s Crush is whole grain, gluten-free, vegan and non-GMO. Perfect for snacks, lunchboxes and parties, Nature’s Crush fills the whole house with the aroma of delicious goodness. Nature’s Crush microwave popcorn is making microwave popcorn a pantry must-have once again.

10. Cherryvale Farms

Cherryvale Farms is a pioneer in 100% plant-based baking and a family business that drew inspiration from their own small farm in Santa Cruz, California to create delicious baking mixes everyone can enjoy at home. All Cherryvale Farms baking mix products are 100% plant-based, egg-free, dairy-free, nut-free and free from preservatives and artificial colors and flavors, making them an excellent option for those managing food allergies or intolerances. New Cherryvale Farms Instant Indulgence Individual Mug Cakes are perfect for middle or high school lunchboxes – or for Mom or Dad to keep in their drawer at work for a sweet treat!

11. Ceres’ Smoothie to Go

Ceres’ Smoothie to Go pack the heavenly taste of perfectly ripe, organic fruit into a healthy, sippable snack that is filled with the essential vitamins, minerals and nutrients your body craves without any fillers, GMOs or added sugars. Packed at the peak of freshness to preserve the pure, crisp taste of exotic real fruit, Smoothies to Go are the ideal way for your littles to get their “five-a-day” recommended servings of fruits and 100% of daily Vitamin C. Each smoothie contains small chunks of luscious real fruit. Available in three mouthwatering flavors, Mango, Tropical with Guava, Mango and Passionfruit, or Apple Berry blends. Naturally vegan and gluten-free.

12. MadeGood Snacks

My son’s favorite… especially the Strawberry Granola Minis! These healthy, delicious granola-based snacks are made in a dedicated facility free from the eight common allergens: peanuts, tree nuts, wheat, dairy, egg, soy, sesame, fish and shellfish. MadeGood snacks are also organic, gluten-free and non-GMO project verified, making them the perfect school-safe snack. Choose from a variety of yummy, pint-sized snacks perfect for little ones, including Soft Baked Cookies, Crispy Light Granola, Granola Bars, Granola Minis (found at Costco!) and Crispy Squares.

13. Tree Top Clear Applesauce Pouches

Elevate kids’ back-to-school lunch game with Tree Top clear applesauce pouches! Tree Top’s new line-up of transparent pouches includes seven healthy, on-the-go fruit options. Yummy varieties include Apple, Mango, Cinnamon, Strawberry, Mixed Berry, Tropical, and my favorite, Organic. Along with being delicious, Tree Top’s pouches are also healthy: they are made with 100% American apples, and have no high fructose corn syrup or artificial flavors and colors. With each pouch at 40-60 calories, parents can breathe a sigh of relief, knowing their kids aren’t filling up on empty calories.

14. JUNKLESS Chewy Granola Bars

Seeking a snack option that your kiddos will love to find tucked in their lunchbox? JUNKLESS Chewy Granola Bars are family-friendly, better-for-you snacks that are minimally processed, contain no artificial flavors, colors or preservatives, are Non-GMO Project Verified, and contain 6 grams of sugar or lower. No junk, and they taste good! The four flavors include Chocolate Chip, Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip, 100% REAL Strawberries and Cinnamon Roll. JUNKLESS Chewy Granola Bars are available nationally on Amazon and in select grocery stores around the country.

15. Popcornopolis Nearly Naked Popcorn

When you want to provide kids of all ages with a healthy snack they are sure to love, Nearly Naked Popcorn is a sure thing! This healthy snack contains nothing more than freshly popped American-grown gourmet popcorn tossed in a touch of coconut oil and a sprinkle of salt. One cup of Nearly Naked popcorn contains just 33 calories! This whole grain, gluten free snack is available in .55oz snack size bags that are ideal for lunch boxes, class snacks, field trips, road trips, movie nights, and more.

16. TahiniBAR

New from Absolutely Gluten Free, TahiniBAR is a grab-and-go sesame seed snack that weighs in at only 100 calories! Like tahini and its decadent dessert cousin, halvah, the energy bars are made from all-natural roasted sesame seeds. Sesame seeds help boost energy levels and are a good source of vitamins, minerals, protein, fiber, Calcium, Iron, Zinc and potassium. Much lower in calories than many other bars, this 100% gluten-free treat is available in three delectable varieties, including Cocoa Nibs, Pistachio, and Vanilla, and sold in packs of 7 bars (4.4 oz.). All varieties are certified OU Kosher and dairy-free.

17. NurturMe Organic Ancient Grains Power Blends

These superfruit, veggie and ancient grain meal pouches give little ones a nutrient-boosting tropical snack! Available in 4 yummy varieties, their Pear + Quinoa + Amaranth + Spinach and Strawberry + Banana + Amaranth pouches are my son’s favorite! Easy to tuck in your child’s lunchbox at daycare or preschool, they provide a no-mess option for little hands. Made with no gluten, soy, dairy or egg. Non-GMO.

18. NurturMe Ancient Grain Cookies

Tummy-friendly and good for you, NurturMe has combined 4 nutrient-packed ancient grains to create the perfect organic and gluten-free cookie for little ones! Made with quinoa, amaranth, millet and sorghum, the cookies do not contain dairy, soy or egg. They are available in two delicious flavors, Cocoa & Honey, and their cute shapes promote learning & play! (yes, we think it’s ok to play with your food!) Plus, they are also a complete and balanced protein with all 9 essential amino acids and immune-boosting antioxidants. Non-GMO.

*Companies generously provided samples and images for this article. All thoughts expressed herein are my own.*