As most parents with school-aged children have
figured out by now, it’s not easIMG_4437y to come up with healthy, high protein, and kid-approved options for your child’s lunch box.  With nuts out of the question, healthy protein options are harder to attain, especially when you factor in that your child is the one in charge of eating his/her lunch so anything less than tasty is sure to remain untouched by the end of their school day!

Why is protein so important you ask?

1. Protein helps to stabilize blood sugar levels.  Let’s say your child goes through their day only picking away at some crackers and fruit, this will set them up for a blood sugar spike (i.e. hyper, can’t sit still, can’t focus), followed by a crash (i.e. tired, emotional, moody) by mid to end of day.  If they get adequate protein throughout the day their blood sugar will instead remain more consistent, as will their mood and behaviour (i.e. protein is the best way to avoid that end of day meltdown!)IMG_4430

Protein is also important for a number of other reasons, including that it’s a part of everything in the body that has structure such as bones, hair, skin and nails (thus making it essential for a growing child).  It’s best to get protein from a variety of sources including meat, seeds, beans and legumes.  This is why these granola bars are great as they have protein from 4 different seeds (sunflower, pumpkin, chia and hemp) as well as 3 different beans (navy, lentil and garbanzo from the Power O’s).

I made my healthy, high-protein AND kid-approved granola bar recipe for the first time last night (after wracking my brain for weeks to come up with the recipe) and got immediate approval by my 4 taste-testers (2 children, and 2 dads).  I figure 4 for 4 is a sure sign of success so they are about to be the new lunch box staple at our house!  The best part about these granola bars is that they are super quick (~10 min.) and easy to make, no baking required!

Dr. Alison’s High Protein, School-Friendly Granola Bars:IMG_4427

1/2 cup honey (local, unpasteurized honey is best)
– 1/2 cup Sunbutter (found in the health food section at the grocery store)
– 3/4 cup pumpkin seeds
– 1/4 cup chia seeds
– 1/4 cup hemp seeds
– 3/4 cup dried cranberries
– 2 cups Original Power O’s (I use the original flavour because there’s no added sugar; also found in the health food section at the grocery store)
– 1 cup whole rolled oats

In a medium sized pot, combine the honey and Sunbutter over medium heat until they melt together.
Next stir in the seeds & dried fruit, then add the Power O’s and follow with the oats.
Once everything is stirred together, remove from heat and transfer mixture to an 8×10 (or thereabouts) pan and flatten with a spatula.
Cool in the fridge or freezer until set.
Cut into squares of desired size for children’s lunches (I like to store mine in the freezer and just pull them out in the morning for lunches, by the time they eat them at school they will be the perfect consistency).