“we’re starving!” snack bars

I don’t know about your kids but when mine come home from school they usually ask for a snack. Snacks before dinner are tricky; too much and they don’t eat dinner, too little and they complain that they’re STARVING until dinners ready. I always try to offer them something healthy (which they usually accept without complaint) but sometimes even I know that baby carrots just won’t cut it. Sometimes a snack needs to be healthy, but seem like a treat. Hello homemade snack bars.

I’ve been on a mission to make a granola/snack bar for sometime, but something always went wrong. Too crumbly. Too sticky. Too blech… But being the tenacious type and all, I kept on trying. The recipe I finally achieved success with is super easy; it really only requires melting and mixing; is pretty healthy; almond butter, puffed brown rice, dried cranberries (yeah there’s mini chocolate chips, but just a few) and most importantly my kids love them.

Here’s hoping that yours do as well and that these tasty snack bars buy you a few pre-dinner hours free from starving people underfoot.

Crispy Almond Snack Bars
These bars can easily be adapted to fit your kids’ likes; soy nut butter instead of almond, raisins instead of cranberries and mini m&m’s instead of chips. Go crazy, you have my permission!

new bars2

2 tbsp. butter
1/3 cup chunky almond butter
1/3 cup honey
2 cups puffed brown rice cereal
1/3 cup dried cranberries
1/2 cup slivered almonds, toasted and chopped
1/4 cup mini chocolate chips

  1. Line an 8×8 pan with parchment or wax paper and set aside. In a small sauté pan toast the almonds. Allow to cool slightly and roughly chop.
  2. Place the cereal, almonds and dried cranberries in a large bowl, being sure that cranberries are not all clumped together. Set aside.
  3. In the pan you used to toast the almonds melt together the butter and almond butter, stirring frequently. Remove from heat, add the honey and stir until fully incorporated. Pour the mixture over the cereal and stir to evenly coat.
  4. Press the cereal mixture into the parchment lined pan. Scatter the top with chocolate chips and lightly press them into the sticky cereal mixture. Place the pan in the freezer for 20 minutes to set.
  5. Remove from the freezer, use the parchment paper to lift the contents out and slice into individual bars. Store in the refrigerator in an air tight container between sheets of waxed paper.
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devil dog treats: take two

Life as a dog owner is much more involved then I expected. There’s puppy shots and house breaking; leashes, collars, toys, beds and crates; social time at the dog park and training classes to correct some not so hot behavior and don’t even get me started on dog food and it’s many many options. I almost think it would have been easier having another child, at least I know what to expect when you bring the little bugger home! Anyway back to the dog…

Trixie is a medium-sized (high energy) terrier-mix rescue dog who was beginning to develop some skin and ear issues. The vet didn’t want to jump to any conclusions or get crazy with tests but she suspected it could be (dum dum dummm) an allergy; perhaps seasonal or food. I don’t know about you but as soon as our pediatrician or vet says the word allergy alarm bells start going off in my head. That allergy road is no fun, I’ve been down it with both my kids and I didn’t want to go down it again with the dog. Being a bull by the horns type rather than a wait and see kinda girl, I decided to take it upon myself to switch her to a wheat free diet and see if it made any difference. Of course that would also mean rethinking those homemade devil dog treats I had so lovingly been baking her.

It turns out that making wheat free dog biscuits isn’t all that hard to do. They take a bit more time in the oven than your average chocolate chip cookie, but they’re considerably healthier and cheaper than buying them at the pet store. I discovered that oatmeal is a good alternate grain for dogs that are having issues with wheat and that pumpkin is great for canine digestion. Who knew! It’s been about two months since I changed Trixie’s diet and so far so good. I’m thinking wheat free just may be her ticket to ride. Oh the things you learn when you become a dog owner. I’m a little frightened to think what’s next…

Gluten-Free Pumpkin-Oatmeal Dog Biscuits
You can make these in any shape you want. I happen to like the dog biscuit shape because it fits well in Trixie’s treat ball.

new biscuits

4 1/4 cups rolled oats, ground
2 eggs
2/3 cup canned pumpkin
1/8 tsp. salt
2 tbsp. canola oil
3 tbsp. chicken broth, plus additional for brushing
3 tsp. dried parsley

  1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Line two cookie sheets with parchment paper and set aside.
  2. Place rolled oats in a food processor and pulse until it becomes a coarse flour. In a large bowl, whisk together the remaining ingredients until smooth. Add the oat flour to the pumpkin mixture and combine with spatula to form a dry, stiff dough.
  3. Turn the dough out onto a cutting board and pat into a circle. Place a sheet or wax paper over the dough and use a rolling pin to flatten it out the remainder of the way, to roughly an 1/4-1/2 of an inch thick.
  4. Cut the dough into shapes using a cookie cutter of your choice and using a spatula to pry them up, place the biscuits on a baking sheet.
  5. Brush each biscuit with chicken broth and bake for 20 minutes*. Carefully turn biscuits over, brush with more broth and bake an additional 20 minutes or until slightly browned around the edges.
  6. After both sheets of biscuits are baked turn the oven off and place the cookie sheets back inside. Allow the biscuits to dry out in the oven for another hour. After an hour allow the biscuits to cool the remainder of the way on a rack before serving to your canine friends.

*The bake time will vary depending on the size of your treats. I bake biscuit sized treats 20 minutes per side, but tiny training treats only 10 minutes per side.