We seem to be forever spending cash on lunchbox foods for kids these days, despite baking fairly regularly to try and keep the expenses down and the healthy choices up. Occasionally, we run out of time for such things, (okay, make that often) and the packaged varieties are thankfully there to pick up the slack.
I've been really looking to find alternatives to consumables we seem to be buying too frequently.
Muesli bars have been under the spotlight in particular. As you well know, buying these convenient treats is quite an expensive outlay; they're usually sold in boxes of 6 bars and when you've exactly 6 kids consuming them, you can imagine that the cost of these on a regular basis becomes quite a high one.
A healthier and cheaper alternative has been long overdue.
After a bit of hunting around, I found a recipe scrawled long ago in one of my favourite recipe files for these tasty alternatives. This muesli bar recipe is not technically muesli at all - more of a homemade version featuring oats and flaxmeal and you can add whatever dried fruit you prefer. (This recipe contains chocolate chips.)
Making your own bars for your kids is such a satisfying bake. Now, not only am I saving precious dollars, but the homemade alternative is packed full of healthy goodness too. The addition of flaxmeal in this recipe adds the health benefits of Omega 3 and the Flora margarine, (I prefer margarine for baking), has the added benefit of Omega 6 - perfect for lowering cholesterol.
What is cholesterol? It's a natural substance found in our blood and it's vital for health but too much of the wrong sort can be damaging to our health.
Nothing beats the fresh taste of homemade and my kids love these bars! I should also mention that the smell of this in the oven is one of the loveliest baking aromas my kitchen has ever produced! They're worth making just for this experience alone.
The muesli bars featured in this post are a version made with just choc chips but you can add whatever it is you prefer.
Homemade Muesli Bars
1 cup of plain flour
1 tbsp. flaxmeal
1 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. cinnamon
1/4 tsp. salt
1/2 cup of brown sugar (granulated)
1 and 3/4 cups of rolled oats
1/2 a cup of Flora margarine (or your preferred substitute) melted
1/2 a cup of chocolate chips or raisins / chopped apricots or a blend of all.
1 cup of puffed rice cereal
2 tbsp. honey
1 tsp. vanilla essence
Hot water to soften mix if required (a couple of tablespoons if needed).
Preheat oven to 180 degrees C.
In a large mixing bowl, combine dry ingredients and mix well. Add the rice cereal last to preserve its puffiness.
Melt honey and margarine together and add to the dry ingredients along with the vanilla.
Mix well by hand (or use your dough hook if using a mixer). If the mixture is a little stiff, add a tiny amount of hot water to aid mixing, remembering that it should be quite sticky so that the mixture holds together well in the end result.
Bake in the oven for 15-20 minutes. The slice should be slightly golden (like toasted muesli) but not brown. It will be soft when it is removed from the oven, (ideal) and will harden as it cools.
Depending on the tin in which it was baked, this recipe should yield around 12 good-sized bars, all for a fraction of the supermarket price...
Feel free to adapt this recipe to your needs: If your kids suffer allergies, you can easily make these gluten free, dairy free or even egg free by using your regular preferred alternatives. Alternate the choc chips with other dried fruits or carob chips to make a huge variety of bars from this basic recipe.
Do you bake your kids' lunchbox treats or buy them?
Have you tried making muesli bars before?
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