Sunday, 3 June 2012

Cranberry and Quinoa Muesli Bars

We adore nuts in our household and many of the recipes we cook have nuts in them. The sustain the kids for longer, a great source of protein and they are delicious.

Unfortunately, in the world of today, their are many children who suffer sever reactions to nuts and so most educational settings are now "nut-free" environments. I understand the need for this, and it has provided opportunities for us to talk with the children about awareness and compassion for others. 

Now that Orlando it at preschool 5 days a week, we have started creating most of our baking to be nut free so that he can take some to preschool.

In regards to packing lunch boxes, I have a bit of a phobia about packing the same lunch everyday. I wouldn't want to eat the same thing everyday, so why would the kids? We also have these great rubbish free lunch boxes with lots of compartments. They are great but I feel compelled to fill each compartment, which means there is a lot of variety needed. I'm on a continual search for nutritious, protein rich lunch box goodies.

We talk about lunch box content often, as I want Orlando to like his lunch, and to eat it. I don't want great waste and I want him to feel excited about his lunch. I also want him to feel a sense of  ownership over his food choices. My philosophy on lunches is - if I am happy with everything in the lunch box, I don't care if he eats his "healthy option" first as I like all of it! 

I asked Orlando the other day "Is there anything you see in your friends lunch boxes that you wish you had?" He thought about it for quite a while and said "Muesli bars, with yoghurt on them. But they come in packets and we don't have packets in our lunches" I suggested that we could try to make some at home, but that I didn't know how to make the yoghurt part. He said "that's okay but can we make sure they have dried cranberries in them?" "SURE!!!"

We came home and trolled through the internet to find a recipe that used things we had in the pantry... no such luck, so I got the gist of how most of them are held together and came up with this....

Cranberry and Quinoa Muesli Bars


1 cup of rolled oats
1 cup of desiccated coconut
1/2 cup of quinoa flakes
1/4 cup of black sesame seeds
2/3 cup of dried cranberries
1/3 cup sultanas
1/4 of flax meal
100 grams of butter (just under 1/2 cup)
1/2 cup of honey
1/8 cup of brown sugar

- Grease and line a slice tin with baking paper
- Cook the oats, coconut, quinoa flakes, sesame seeds, in a fry pan over low to medium heat, stirring occasionally, until golden. Be careful not to burn the mixture. Set aside to cool.
- Stir in the cranberries, sultanas and flax meal.
- Cook the butter, honey and sugar in a small saucepan. Stir constantly for for 3 to 4 minutes or until sugar has dissolved.
- Bring to the boil. Add butter mixture to dry ingredients. Stir well until combined.

- Spoon the mixture into the tin. Use a large metal spoon to press and pack the mixture down firmly and evenly.
- Allow to cool and then cut into squares or rectangles.
- The bars can be stored in a airtight container for up to a week.


These are a big hit. Far more delicious and successful than I had thought. Orlando loves them and Matilda thinks they're pretty good also. 

I love the taste, but more over, I love that the kids are unwittingly eating quinoa, which is a grain that they have not yet taken a liking to. To me, the quinoa is substituting the protein rich nuts that I would have like to put in there. This is a snack I will be happy to serve the kids. It's protein rich and I know it will give them lots of sustained energy to support their day.

What nut-free lunch box ideas do you have? Please share!


  1. Hello :) These bars look fabulous and I bet they taste great too! Definitely going to try making them soon.

    I love the lunch boxes you describe. Lots of families at my school are starting to use them (those that can afford them!) and the design really encourages variety! Being a teacher I see loads of school lunches and some ideas i see families trying and enjoying are sushi, cold rice paper rolls, buckwheat & banana pikelets, popcorn, homemade dips (like hummus) with crackers or veggies, homemade fruit straps (guess that would require a dehydrator?), dried fruit like dates and apricots...and the list goes on.

    Love your food/lunch philosophy, Soph!

  2. I'm making my own take on these today after trying your delicious ones. We're also doing our own hummus, though the kids aren't so sure about it yet - fussy hummus connoisseurs that they are!!