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We recently had to switch to a dairy-free lifestyle in an effort to see if our younger kids have a sensitivity that is causing them some serious sinus problems. I was having a hard time finding granola bars for our kids that were dairy free, mostly nut free and not expensive. We love to cook as much as we can from scratch so I tried to look up recipes. I could not find any that would work for our family’s particular needs so I decided to try and make them on my own. Children were consulted and they love peanuts and rice krispies so I used those as our base.
We buy 90% of our groceries from Costco as you can see. I bought the “Crisp Rice” at Winco and if you need to be gluten free this is where you could substitute gluten-free Rice Krispies and make the granola bars gluten-free. We are not super gluten sensitive so I did not worry about it.
I had my three year old dump all of the ingredients into a bowl and stir. It was a little sticky so I helped her a bit.
Next I pressed the granola bars into the pan using a regular spoon and put them into the oven for 20 min at 350 degrees. Your oven temperature may be different or you may want them chewier so check them after 15 minutes.
After baking I melted some chocolate chips and spread them on the top. Be careful if you use something with a handle since it could get very hot in the microwave.
I let the whole thing set a bit and my kids ate them pretty much over night so I would say they are a hit! Next time I might try adding some raisins and cinnamon or even dried apples and see how they turn out.
Easy Dairy-free Peanut Butter Granola Bars
Dairy/Gluten-free granola bars for the kids
- 2 cups Rice Cereal
- 3/4 cup Peanuts
- 1/4 cup Honey
- 1/2 cup Peanut Butter
- 1 cup chocolate chips (dairy-free)
- Step 1 Spray an 8×8 baking dish with cooking spray.
- Step 2 Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
- Step 3 Put Rice Krispies, peanuts, honey and peanut butter into a bowl and stir.
- Step 4 Press your mixture into the baking dish and even out.
- Step 5 Bake granola bars for 15-20 min until they are firm.
- Step 6 Allow to cool for a couple of hours.
- Step 7 Microwave 1 cup chocolate chips in a microwave safe dish for 60 seconds. Stir and microwave them for an additional 30 seconds if they are not melty.
- Step 8 Spread your chocolate chips over the granola bars and enjoy!
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Today I decided to make some of my easy pear sauce. My kids devour it as soon as I make it. Luckily it only takes a little bit of work to make and is easy to make ahead.
We do most of our shopping at Costco to save money. Our kids work and play hard and even though two of them are under four they still eat a lot of food. I started making pear sauce in place of apple because the younger two kids were not big fans of applesauce as babies. Now they will eat applesauce but they still love my pear sauce and when I make it they get very excited. I buy a bag of D’Anjou pears from Costco and let them ripen for a week or two, sometimes three. I try to leave the bag as flat as I can on the counter so that the pears do not develop bruises in the areas where they are resting on each other. When I am feeling the need to cook ahead I will buy two bags of pears and make a double batch and freeze some of it. I have tried Bartlett pears and they work in a pinch but the D’Anjou pears make a more flavorful sauce. I am very excited for a few years from now when our pear tree is producing and we will be able to make pear sauce from our own trees!
The earliest I will wait to make the pear sauce is when the spot under the stem gives in slightly when pressed. The pears can still be green and slightly firm at this point but that is ok. I will also wait until the pears are yellow and almost overripe if I run out of time to make it. These D’Anjou pears work well for this because when life gets busy (as it often does in our house) you have a couple of weeks of leeway before you have a bag of rotten pears instead of delicious pear sauce. You can also pop the pears into the fridge if you look ahead and realize you won’t get to making the sauce for a few weeks.
Whether you peel the pears or not, depends on your preference and how much time you have. It takes me 15 min to cut the pears and get the sauce on the stove if I leave the peels on so when I am in a time crunch that is what I do. I was in a time crunch today so I did not peel my pears. They are also heading towards overripe since I did not get around to making pear sauce last week but that is the beauty of these particular pears, they are meant to be stored for a while so they will still taste yummy!
On to the sauce. You will need 7-8 pears, vanilla, cinnamon and a large pot. I use our 3.5 quart pot for this.
Wash the pears. Make sure to remove the stickers if you aren’t peeling them.
Cut them into roughly one inch square pieces (Quarter, take out core, slice each quarter a few times) and place into pot.
Add vanilla and cinnamon to the pot. I don’t measure this but I add about 1-2 tsp of vanilla and probably 1-2 tsp of cinnamon (I love cinnamon!). At this point you can add a little water to the pot depending on if the pears are juicy or what you are using it for. If it is for baby food you may want to add a little water (1 Tbsp or so) to make it thinner. If I am making pouches I will add about 1 Tbsp so that the pear sauce will be thin enough to go through the opening. You can also add water at the blending stage if you want to wait and see how thick it will be.
Place pot onto stove at medium heat and bring to a simmer. Stir frequently at first to make sure none of the pears stick to the bottom of the pot, Let simmer for about 25 min or until pears are soft and squishy.
Let cool. I usually cook the pear sauce during nap and let it cool for a couple of hours. This gives me time to clean up. Today while the pear sauce cooked I played with the puppy.
After the pear sauce has cooled put about half of it in the blender and use the pulse setting to make it smooth. Repeat with the other half of the sauce.
At this point I will either put it into the fridge, portion it into resealable pouches and freeze for the kids or dole it out to waiting children. Today I put it into a large container (reused from lunch meat). We ate some of it for dinner and I will put about half of it into reusable pouches tomorrow and freeze all but two of them. We use these reusable pouches and they work wonderfully! I fill them about 2/3 full and stick them in the freezer for up to a couple of months, but honestly they usually get eaten within a week. My kids get one pouch a day and I just pull them out as needed.
Some variations you could do are to cook a mix of apples and pears, steam vegetables and add them to the blender with the cooked pears to make baby food and to add nutmeg to the pear sauce.