Protein is so necessary to our diet and especially if you have any issues with regulating blood sugar and keeping the levels steady. This is especially important among neurodiverse individuals who can be more sensitive to changes in blood sugar, which could lead to issues focusing or just dealing with everyday inputs.
If you or your children are very active, a good source of lean protein will help fuel the body and ensure that you’re not craving nutrient-deficient snacks afterward. As the mother of a very active Squirrel and a Fox who doesn’t always get the nutrients needed during meals, I needed a way to get a healthy amount of protein into them as a snack in between meals to keep them from experiencing blood sugar spikes.
⚠️ There are a lot of different granola bars out there but most are so loaded with sugar and other unhealthy ingredients this was not a viable option. We also looked at commercially made protein bars but the cost per bar was too high for an everyday snack (Plus all the non-recyclable packaging didn’t make my environmental self too happy) ⚠️
We did a little research and tried a lot of recipes to find something that our sensitive Fox would eat and would have a high enough nutrient content to sustain everyone. The following recipe is the results of our research. This is our favorite bar that we tried because we could change it up from week to week depending on what we added. We made one batch per week and that worked for our 4 person family. While the initial outlay for ingredients is high you will be able to make 8-10+ batches depending on what you mix in.
The only ingredient that was a bit hard to source was the rice syrup and it is the binding agent for all the seeds. The one we found and like the best is Lundberg sweet dreams organic brown rice syrup. We purchased a lot of the ingredients from our local organic market/ health food store.
We hope your family enjoys these bars as much as ours.
1 ½ cups gluten free rolled oats
1 ¼ cups rice crisp cereal
¼ unsweetened shredded coconut
¼ cup dairy free vanilla protein powder
½ tsp. cinnamon
Any of the following ingredients combined to make 4 Tbsp.
1 Tbsp. sesame seeds
1 Tbsp. shelled Hemp hearts
1 Tbsp. flax seeds
Any of the following ingredients to make ½ cup total:
¼ cup pumpkin seeds
¼ cup sunflower seeds
¼ cup chocolate chips (optional)
½ cup plus 1 Tbsp. brown rice syrup
¼ cup roasted peanut butter, almond butter or sunflower butter
- Prepare a 9X9 pan with wax paper and set to the side.
- In a large bowl measure out all the dry ingredients and set to the side. (You can add the chocolate chips at this stage and they will melt a little into the bars or you can add them in the last step on the top of the bars)
- In a small pot add the brown rice syrup and nut butter. Heat on low until the mixture is bubbling slowly (it reminds my kids of lava bubbles)
- Pour syrup and nut butter mixture into the dry ingredients and mix until combined.
- Pour the combined mixture into the prepared pan with wax paper. Use the side of a spatula to press into the corners or wet your fingers and press down. At this point you can press the chocolate chips into the top of the bars.
- Refrigerate for at least 1 hour or overnight. Use the wax paper as a sling to remove the bars from the pan for cutting into the desired size. We like to cut them into 1”x3” pieces for bars or 1”x1” pieces for snack bites.
- The bars can be stored for up to 2 weeks in a closed container in the fridge or wrapped individually in wax paper for outings. While they are shelf stable they will get very soft if left out for more than a day. Refrigeration helps keeps them firm.
Tips and Variations:
- Do not use whey protein powder as it gets very sticky and will not allow the bars to stay together.
- You can eliminate the coconut if there is an allergy just replace with a dried fruit of your choice and roughly chop before adding.
- If you just want a great granola bar you can make these without the protein powder.
- These can also be rolled into individual balls for a quick snack bite – while we have tried this, in our house we just don’t have that kind of time every week so cutting the bars into smaller squares works great.
Reach out to Heidi at her Squirrel and Fox Storefront on Vitalxchange for more recipes and conversations on raising neurodiverse children!