baking

Peanut Butter (and Jelly!) Granola Bars

 

If you’ve ever had a picky eater in your household, you know the angst of trying to get them to branch out. Our picky eater would eat the same meal for lunch and dinner every.single.day. if we let him: a peanut butter and jelly sandwich. Seriously, this kid LOVES his PB&Js. I’m constantly working to get him to try new foods or even a new way to eat a food he likes. You mamas of picky eaters know how hard this is! So for a healthy and fun twist on his daily PB&J, I’ve been making these super yummy peanut butter and jelly granola bars for lunch or snack time instead!

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I’m pretty choosy about what foods we put into our bodies, so I really enjoy cooking and baking from scratch whenever I can. I’ve made these granola bars for years, and they’re always a big hit. I feel good about my family eating them, because I know exactly what’s inside. Homemade granola bars are always better than packaged and processed! They are also really easy and quick to make, which is a necessity in this season of my life.

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Because we put Jif Natural Crunchy Peanut Butter inside the bars, they pair absolutely perfectly with our favorite Smucker’s Fruit Spread!

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We have used Smucker’s Fruit Spreads in our house for as long as I can remember. I absolutely love their “Simply Fruit” line – no added sugars! I’m a big fan of short ingredient lists. :) And the Fruit and Honey Triple Berry spread… oh my, I could eat it on its own, it’s so yummy.

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We spread the jelly and peanut butter on top, and then – to make it more like a true PB&J – we put another granola bar on top.

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This “sandwich” is easy to pack in a lunchbox, or put some jelly in a reusable container for dipping your granola bar. Pickiest eater approved!

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If you follow me on Instagram, you won’t be surprised that one of my favorite places to shop is Target. We go through a loaf of bread in like five minutes, so the fact that I can pick up our PB&J supplies and this adorable basket and PINK rolling pin, all while drinking coffee (bonus points if I’m alone!)… well, I’m sold. ;)

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And I love love LOVE the Cartwheel app! Last month, I forgot my login password, and seriously spent an extra 20 minutes in the store trying every password I could possibly have used, then reseting my password, just so I could use my coupons. Ha!! Right now, both Smucker’s Fruit Spreads and Jif Peanut Butter Spreads have Cartwheel savings – which I totally used. Because seriously, five kids is kind of a lot and any little bit I can save makes me a happy mama!

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Ready to make your own??

Peanut Butter (and Jelly!) Granola Bars

3 1/2 cups rolled oats
3/4 cup whole wheat flour
1/3 cup packed brown sugar
2 Tablespoons ground flax
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/3 – 1 cup raisins/chocolate chips/chopped nuts *optional

1/3 cup honey
1/3 cup melted coconut oil
generous 1/2 cup natural peanut butter
1 egg, lightly beaten
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract

optional toppings:

jelly
creamy peanut butter
bananas
chia seeds

Directions:

1. Combine all dry ingredients.
2. Combine all wet ingredients.
3. Add wet ingredients to dry ingredients. Stir until evenly moistened.
4. Spoon onto 9×13 pan lined with parchment paper – press evenly into the pan.
5. Bake at 350F for 25-30 minutes, until the edges begin to brown (27 minutes is the sweet spot for me!)
6. Let cool completely before cutting into pieces. If you don’t, they will be crumbly and not stay formed into bars. They will still be yummy, but they may be more like granola instead of bars. :)
7. Top with Jif Natural Creamy Peanut Butter and Smucker’s Fruit Spread, and maybe some bananas or chia seeds too!

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My kids could NOT wait for this batch to cool, so we ended up with a lot of bite-sized pieces. Luckily, small pieces make the perfect snack.

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How do you combat the boring lunch blues??

Peppermint Dark Chocolate Chip Cookie Bars (and a free treat topper printable!)

This time of year, I enjoy handing out small gifts to people who have made an impact on our lives – teachers, childcare volunteers, friends, neighbors, even postal carriers. But obviously we don’t have the money to buy each and every one of them an extravagant gift. I think that giving a small treat is a simple yet meaningful way to say “Merry Christmas, I appreciate you!”
Peppermint Dark Chocolate Chip Cookie BarsDisclosure: This post is sponsored by Hefty. I received compensation for this post and these products. All opinions are my own.

These cookie bars are sooo delicious. And it can be our little secret, but they are actually pretty good for you! This recipe doesn’t contain any refined sugar, and it uses whole wheat flour, so it’s much better for you than your average cookie recipe! And the peppermint gives it a refreshing “Christmasy” surprise. :) There’s a good amount of butter, but I’m of the opinion that butter isn’t really bad for you. Even if you disagree, pretend you don’t for the sake of this recipe… it’s that good.

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These cookie bars, combined with the Hefty Treat Toppers  free printable make giving small gifts to everyone in your life simple and delicious. :) Three different versions, because a girl’s gotta have options.

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Start by gathering all your ingredients:

Ingredients

  • 3 cups whole wheat pastry flour
  • 1 1/2 tsp. baking powder
  • 1 tsp. baking soda
  • 1 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 2 sticks unsalted butter, softened
  • 1/2 cup honey
  • 1 cup applesauce
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2 tsp. peppermint extract (If you’re not a big fan of peppermint, substitute vanilla instead!)
  • 8 oz. dark chocolate chips

Mix all your dry ingredients together. Then add the softened butter, honey, applesauce, eggs, and peppermint extract. Mix together.

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Now add your dark chocolate chips and spread the mixture into a deep baking dish. I would recommend stoneware or even a cast iron skillet if you have one. If not, make sure you grease the baking pan well.

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Bake at 350 degrees for 35-40 minutes, depending on your oven. Mine cooked perfectly at about 38 minutes.

dsc_1867Let your cookie bars cool before cutting into them – this is the tough part!

dsc_1877Then sample the fabulous peppermint dark chocolate combo. These cookie bars are perfectly moist and the peppermint flavor isn’t overwhelming.

dsc_1800Now grab yourself some Hefty Slider bags so that you can package these up for your friends and neighbors. Hefty created these super adorable Treat Toppers that you print out right at home. A day when I don’t have to take my four boys out shopping with me is a good day.

dsc_1922Simply print them out, fold, punch a couple of holes, and staple them to your Hefty slider bags. This is a great activity for the kids to help with. I love that these slider bags are super easy for them to use – they can always get them closed and don’t need to ask for help, at least this one time during the day. Mom for the win!

dsc_1943Add some festive ribbon and you’ve got the perfect last minute gift for that childcare volunteer you forgot to get something for… not that I’d know anything about that. ;)

dsc_1913Just don’t forget to save some for yourself, because you.need.these.in.your.life. Trust me.

Hefty has all kinds of great ideas to help make your holidays simpler, including ornaments and crafts you and your kids can make together during the cold winter days where you’re all stuck inside all the live long day.. and tips and products to make holidays easier. Because who doesn’t like easier?

dsc_1882Happy baking, friends!