School snacks- my muesli bites!

School's back and so comes the challenge of packing snacks that are both nutritious and delicious. Fruit is obviously an excellent lunchbox snack- it comes wrapped in natural packaging and is full of nutrients. To accompany a piece of seasonal fruit I suggest these muesli bites. They're high in soluble fibre to assist with regular bowel movements, rich in complex carbohydrates for energy and packed full of antioxidants. Muesli bites are a better option than commercial muesli bars and they help kids achieve some of their wholegrain and fruit requirements. You could also add flaxseed, nuts or chia seeds to increase the protein content (just remember to avoid nuts if you're at a nut-free school!) Plus, this recipe is fun for kids to make!

I've made three versions of these muesli bites to allow for different tastes. The base recipe calls for 1 cup of dried/pitted prunes, 50g of melted and cooled butter and 1/4 cup of honey. Blitz these together in a food processor and then add your cereal of choice.

Option 1. Most recipes I've seen call for toasted muesli. The majority of the toasted products on the market include added fat (usually oil) or added sugar (often honey) to give the muesli its glossy look and crunchy texture. However, I found that the crunch is somewhat lost once these muesli bites are all mixed together and thus buying toasted muesli, if you don't have it already, is a waste of time. So on to option 2.

Option 2. In this version I've used a cheaper base ingredient of regular rolled oats with a sprinkling of pepitas, sunflower seeds, dried apricots and desiccated coconut. You could use whatever nuts, seeds or dried fruit pieces you have on hand.

Option 3. For the kids that don't like 'bits' I've done a version with rice bubbles. These aren't as high in fibre, but they're still an excellent source!

So I made up my prune base, and then split it into three batches. Each batch was whizzed in the food processor with 3/4 cup of the muesli, or about 1.5 cups of rice bubbles (because they're so airy). Then I rolled into balls and refrigerated for about 30 mins so the bites held their shape.

I am known for my pineapple obsession, so I did try to use my gorgeous pineapple moulds to shape these bites. However, it was a pretty sad looking pineapple that popped out 30 mins later. So instead, I'd suggest using a small cookie cutter with a smoother edge. Hearts would be cute!

I also whacked a few of the balls in the oven to see if a bit of baking might help them stay crisp over the next few days. This did change the texture quite dramatically. They were much drier, with more of a crunchy than chewy texture. Depends on your preference I guess!

All in all, this recipe is pretty simple, and can be adjusted to include whatever dry ingredients you've got in the cupboard. Plus, you know exactly what goes into them! Let me know what you think

So in summary:

1 cup of dried prunes

1/4 cup honey

50g butter, melted and cooled

2 and a 1/2 cups of muesli/oats/cereal or about 4 cups of airy cereal like rice bubbles

Blitz all ingredients in a blender, shape into balls/hearts/pineapples and refrigerate* for 30mins. Keep for a week in the fridge.

*you can also bake these in a moderate oven for 10-15 mins if you prefer crunchy bites

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