healthy eating

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??

Delicious and Easy Veggie-Packed Spaghetti your Kids Will Love!

With baby on his way in the next few weeks, I’m all about keeping meals as easy as possible. But I don’t want to rely on chicken nuggets and tater tots, because eating real foods and lots of veggies is important to me! This delicious and veggie-packed spaghetti recipe is perfect for nights when I want to feed them something healthy, but I don’t have the time or energy to spend in the kitchen.delicious-easy-and-veggie-packed-spaghetti

 

Spaghetti doesn’t have to be from a jar to be easy! In the amount of time it takes you to boil noodles, you can give your family a nutritious meal that everyone will love. My kids GOBBLE this up. And these frozen herbs from Dorot help to make this meal seriously easy!

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The ingredients you use can vary based on what you have on-hand. Here’s what I used:

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  • whole wheat spaghetti noodles
  • two carrots
  • one onion
  • one green pepper
  • about three cups of kale, chopped
  • 5-6 mushrooms
  • ground beef (optional, of course, if your family goes meatless)
  • 2tsp oregano
  • 2tsp thyme
  • frozen garlic and basil from Dorot
  • two cans of tomato sauce
  • one can of tomato paste (DON’T skip the tomato paste! It’s key to thickening up the sauce!)

Other veggies you could use:

  • zucchini
  • spinach
  • parsnip
  • swiss chard
  • diced tomatoes

Before I get into the recipe, I have to tell you about these frozen herbs from Dorot. We found them at Trader Joe’s (you can find all locations to purchase here), and I have to tell you that they are SO convenient.

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I’ll admit, I was a little bit skeptical about them. Why buy frozen herbs when you can just get them fresh? The kids were so intrigued by them as well!

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But as I used them, I realized – this.is.GENIUS. I almost never keep fresh basil in the house. So when I want to use it, I have to buy it especially for a recipe. And that requires a little planning and forethought… and in this season of my life, both of those things are lacking. ;) It’s so perfect to have these teaspoon sized squares to pop into a dish and get the flavor of fresh without having to go out and buy it!

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1. While your noodles are boiling, brown your ground beef. When it’s nearly cooked, toss in your green peppers, onions, and kale.

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2. Shred your carrots and toss them in, along with three cubes of Dorot garlic (equal to three tsp of garlic) – you can add less if you’re not quite the garlic fans we are. ;)

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3. Let those cook for a few minutes before adding the cans of tomato sauce, tomato paste, oregano, thyme, and two cubes of basil from Dorot (equal to two tsp of basil). Cook until the sauce is hot.

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Serve the sauce over noodles and eat.it.up!

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This recipe makes a generous amount – it’s perfect for my family of six, with a little bit leftover. If you have a smaller family, divide the recipe in half or make the whole thing and freeze some for later!

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These are super reasonably priced, but you can get a $1.00 off coupon to sweeten the deal.

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I can’t wait to try out some of the other herbs! Having them on-hand to make yummy, nutritious dinners easier before and after baby is something I can get on board with. A few less things to chop = dinner comes a few minutes faster. And in my busy house, every minute counts!

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Happy healthy eating!