I loathe making kids lunches. But what I loathe even more than making lunches is coming up with kids healthy lunch box ideas; it's never-ending. I dread it every day, all year-long and I'm sure there are many other parents out there that are just like me. So, if you are one of those parents (or not a parent, but just generally hate making lunches), I want to offer you a few more lunch bag food ideas, like this Healthy Fruit and Oat Bar.
These oatmeal fruit bars are vegan and allergy friendly (nut free, refined sugar free, egg free, gluten-free and dairy free!). If you are looking for sugar free snacks or a healthy snack for after school or mid-morning, this is perfect!
School is starting in less than 2 weeks again and although that comes with its own set of benefits, sadly, my lunch holiday is over. However, I am determined to go into this school year armed and that is precisely why I am starting early!
For this Oatmeal Fruit Bar recipe, you'll need:
- rolled oats
- dried apricots
- dried cranberries
- raw, unsalted sunflower seeds
- pitted prunes
- vanilla extract
- chia seeds
- unsweetened coconut flakes
- baking soda
📖 Variations & Substitutions
- Pitted Prunes - you can substitute dates
- Dried Cranberries- you can substitute dried cherries
- Tahini: you can substitute nut butter (almond, for example) or peanut butter
- Chia seeds- you can substitute flax seeds
To make this fruit oat bar cookies, you'll need a 9X13 baking pan (affiliate link) for this recipe.
These Fruit and Oatmeal bars keep well in and airtight container in the fridge for 3 days and they freeze well. They also defrost pretty quickly. You can also defrost them in the microwave for 20 seconds or they will be defrosted by snack time if you throw them in the lunch bag in the morning.
Aside from being free of just about everything allergy related or bad for you, these fruity oat bars are also portable! And it's a great way to use up some of those frozen overripe bananas in your freezer!
💭 Top tip
Peel your bananas BEFORE freezing them, then stick them in a Ziplock baggie (you can cut them in half) and label them with the date. Yes, this seems like a no-brainer but I didn't think to do it for years (until a friend mentioned it) and would always have these frozen hockey puck-like bananas (with peel on) flying out of the freezer (they are awkward and slippery when frozen) and landing on my toes - ouch! Then I got minor frostbite whenever I had to peel them! This will make your life much easier.
Although this recipe is not going to change your life (sorry, you still have to make lunches 🙁 ), it will give you something fast and healthy to add to your arsenal. This healthy oat bar is not only dairy-free, nut-free, gluten-free, egg-free and refined sugar free, you can make it ahead, freeze it, then throw in it in the kids lunch bag for a healthy and easy dessert or morning snack. It can even be a quick breakfast before heading out the door.
If you don't have to make lunch for your kids, lucky you! But if you still have to pack a lunch for yourself, give this recipe a try. I love this recipe for fruit bars and pack them regularly in my own lunch bag. It's the perfect dessert for your lunch bag!
Happy back to school baking and lunch making!
And if you're looking for more fruit bar recipes, try my NO BAKE Healthy Homemade Energy Bars, made with dried fruit.
Did you make this easy recipe? Please RATE THE RECIPE below!
📋 Fruit and Oat Bars Recipe
- 1 cup old-fashioned rolled oats
- ½ cup tahini
- ½ cup dried apricots chopped
- ½ cup dried cranberries
- ½ cup sunflower seeds
- 1 cup pitted prunes you can substitute dates, bite-sized
- 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
- 4 tablespoon chia seeds
- ½ cup coconut flakes unsweetened
- 1 teaspoon cinnamon
- ¼ teaspoon baking soda
- 2 ripe bananas mashed
- Heat oven to 350 degrees F/175 degrees C.
- Spray a 9 X 13 baking pan with non-stick cooking spray.
- In a food processor, add the coconut, banana, apricots, prunes, chia, cinnamon, vanilla, baking soda and tahini. Process until smooth.
- Remove mixture from processor and place in a large bowl.
- Add cranberries, ¼ cup sunflower seeds (reserve ¼ cup seeds for top) and old-fashioned oats to the bowl. Mix well.
- Pour the batter into prepared baking dish and spread in an even layer with a rubber spatula.
- Sprinkle the top with ¼ cup of reserved sunflower seeds.
- Bake for 18 minutes, until golden brown, in preheated oven.
- Cool for 3-5 minutes, then run a spatula around the edges of the pan.
- Let stand for at least 10 minutes before cutting with a sharp knife (into bars). Then move to a wire rack to cool.
- Portion and wrap individually in saran wrap.