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Toddler Travel Snack: Quinoa Peanut Butter Protein Bars

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My family is road trip obsessed, and at least once a summer we try to plan a trip that will take up anywhere from 6 to 20 hours to drive to our destination.

We started when our second child was two and a half years old, and I truly believe that beginning road trips that young developed both a tolerance and appreciation for spending many, many hours in a car. This was also during a time when iPads had yet to be invented and in-car entertainment systems were essentially non-existent, so we really relied on books, games, and small toys to keep everyone entertained.

We’re on the road again this week, with yet another two-year-old in tow, and this is his first real road trip. We do have an iPad now, and I won’t hesitate to pull it out when the going gets tough (and experience has taught me it will!), but I’m also going to rely on new books and tiny toys to help keep entertained. Well, those and a bunch of snacks.

If there’s one thing I excel at it, it’s making healthy snacks for toddlers. This year we’re packing fresh cherries in the cooler, plus bagel sandwiches and quinoa peanut butter protein bars. I found this recipe in It All Begins with Food, the new book written by Leah Garrad-Cole, the founder of Love Child Organics. I flagged the recipe last spring, knowing they would make the perfect portable snack for our annual road trip. However, watching my little one devour one the second it was cool enough to consume, I’m now confident they’re a tasty, nutritious, kid-friendly bite for any day of the year.

Healthy Quinoa Peanut Butter Protein Bars

Subtly adapted from It All Begins with Food
Makes 24 bars

You’ll Need

  • ¼ cup virgin coconut oil, plus extra to grease the pan
  • 2 ½ cups quick oats
  • ½ cup old-fashioned rolled oats
  • 1 cup cooked and cooled quinoa
  • ¼ cup spelt flour
  • 2 tablespoons hemp hearts
  • ½ teaspoon kosher salt
  • ½ cup natural smooth peanut butter
  • 2/3 cup honey
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla bean paste or pure vanilla extract
  • 1 cup finely chopped dates
  • ½ cup chocolate-covered or plain sunflower seeds

Prep and Cook

  • 1
    Position a rack in the middle of the oven and preheat to 350°F. Grease an 8x11-inch baking pan with coconut oil and set aside.
  • 2
    In a large bowl, stir together quick oats, old-fashioned oats, quinoa, spelt flour, hemp hearts, and kosher salt.
  • 3
    In a medium saucepan set over medium heat, combine the remaining coconut oil, peanut butter, honey, and vanilla, cooking until melted and fully combined.
  • 4
    Pour this wet mixture into the dry ingredients and stir until completely incorporated. Mix in the dates and sunflower seeds. Scrape into the prepared pan and press down the mixture into the corners, creating an even layer.
  • 5
    Bake for 25 to 30 minutes, or until the edges begin to crisp and the top is golden brown. Cool in the baking dish on a wire rack for 15 minutes, then transfer to the fridge to chill completely.
  • 6
    Using a sharp knife, cut into 24 bars. Store in a lidded container in the refrigerator for 4 days or in the freezer for up to 3 months.

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