Snack Smart: Vegan Granola Bars

Petit Organics founder Michelle Marinis nourishes growing bellies with a snack-time favorite.

Snack Smart: Vegan Granola Bars

In 2011, my youngest son, Brandt, was born. I had just launched Petit Organics, a 100 percent organic, fresh baby food delivery service in New York City, freshly handmade less than 24 hours prior to delivery. But even though I was in the business of healthy eating, between keeping track of Brandt's older brothers and handling a newborn, would you believe how challenging it was to actually feed myself?

Any new mom can lament how it always seems at that exact moment you sit down to eat a meal, your baby starts to cry. After one or two diaper changes, another feeding and getting my baby down for a nap, I would often realize that one and a half hours had passed since my last attempt to eat. Mothers are so incredibly nurturing to everyone around them except… themselves! For six years now, my daytime meals have all been consumed with a child in my arms or on my hip, usually while swaying back and forth in an effort to stop them from crying. It can be a real challenge to take care of yourself.

A nutrient-dense diet is essential after having a baby and during breastfeeding for many reasons. Delivery recovery requires ample vitamins and minerals, and if you are breastfeeding, you will need to consume an extra 300 - 500 calories a day to properly feed your little love. That can be a big change to a woman's diet! Staying hydrated is another very important item on the breastfeeding mother's "to do" list, so make sure to drink plenty of water throughout the day.

During my three pregnancies and recoveries, I learned quickly how little spare time mothers have, even to do something as simple as eating. I was also experiencing digestion challenges with my oldest son while he was an infant and breastfeeding. After I discovered that dairy and wheat were the culprits of the tummy pain for my munchkins, my son's pediatrician advised me to remove these items from my own diet to see if there was an improvement. It was a miracle! I felt like he was a new baby. During this challenging time, I developed an amazing allergen-free and vegan granola bar. It is packed with nutrients and is the perfect grab-n-go snack for busy mothers. It is even easy to eat DURING a feeding. So, read on for this irresistible snack recipe that can also double as a snack for older children (ages 3 years+).

And stay tuned for more of my healthy snacking recipes in the coming months!

VEGAN GRANOLA BAR RECIPE:

Ingredients:

• 1/3 cup oat flour

• 1/4 cup brown sugar or coconut sugar

• 1 cup rolled oats

• 1/2 cup quick oats

• 1/4 teaspoon salt

• 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

• 1/4 cup chia seeds

• 1/2 cup dates, chopped

• 1/2 cup sesame seeds (option to replace with nuts if not allergic)

• 1/3 cup tahini

• 1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil

• 1/4 cup maple syrup

• 1 teaspoon vanilla

• 1 tablespoon water

Preparation:

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F and line a baking dish with wax paper (bottom and sides should be covered).

2. Combine all dry ingredients in a large mixing bowl.

3. In a smaller bowl, combine all of the wet ingredients. Using your hands or a wooden spoon, add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients and thoroughly combine.

4. Pour the batter into the baking dish taking care to spread it out evenly into the corners. Bake 30 - 40 minutes until golden brown.

5. Remove from oven and place on a rack to cool completely. Once cooled, move to the refrigerator for 2 hours. Remove and slice into squares or bars. Serve cooled or at room temperature.

Yields 12 - 15 bars.

Petit Pointer: Triple the recipe and freeze the surplus in your freezer. They will last safely for up to three months in your freezer.

Bon appetit to you and your bébés!

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