Anneka Manning, a food author, mum of two and passionate baker behind BakeClub, joins us each month to share some of her industry tips, tricks and 25 years worth of experience. Today, she reveals four nasties to avoid when packing your kids lunchbox and shares her simple, yet healthy, Honey and Nut Muesli Bar Recipe.
Four Nasties To Avoid When Packing Your Kids Lunchbox
Now that the kids are back at school and lunch box packing has resumed, I thought you might like to find out what the ‘four nasties’ are that you need to look out for when packing your kids lunch boxes. These are things that we are often unaware of but can have terrible affects on our kids’ health and are commonly used in many commercially-made baked goods.
The first big one is Additives. This group includes food colourings, flavours and flavour enhancers, and preservatives. They lurk in almost every snack you buy – from crackers and biscuits to muffins, muesli bars and cakes.
The second one is Hydrogenated Fats that occur both naturally and artificially and include the recently much-publicized trans-fatty acids that are commonly used in most commercially-made muesli bars, packet cake mixes, muffins and cakes.
Sodium is the third one. Many commercially-baked items are high in sodium due to large quantities of salt added to enhance the flavour and extend the shelf life.
Lastly, Sucrose and High Fructose Corn Syrup, are the two main ‘bad’ highly-processed sweeteners generally found in cereals, jam, flavoured yoghurts and, in frighteningly high amounts, in commercially baked products.
So, how do you avoid these ‘Nasties’? There are three main things you can do:
- Always check the ingredient list on packaging.
- Where possible avoid highly processed foods.
- Bake at home.
If you just do these three things it will give you a more informed ability to choose what is going into your kids’ lunch boxes and, ultimately, their bodies.
Try out these scrummy Honey and Nut Muesli Bars to start with – bought ones will be a thing of the past once your kids try them!
Honey and Nut Muesli Bar Recipe
This recipe is based on one from Supergrains by Chrissy Freer, published by Murdoch Books. Knowing what is going into your muesli bars is the key – it makes them so much healthier and tastier.
Makes: about 18 bars
Preparation time: 15 minutes
Baking time: 45-55 minutes
What You’ll Need:
180ml (260g / ¾ cup) good-quality honey
125ml (1/2 cup) sunflower oil or light olive oil
250g (21/2 cups) rolled oats
30g (11/2 cups) puffed millet
45g (1/2 cup) desiccated coconut
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
55g (1/3 cup) sweetened dried cranberries
75g (1/2 cup) currants
80g (1/2 cup) raw almonds, coarsely chopped
What You Do:
- Preheat the oven to 140°C. Line a 20 x 30 cm baking tin with non-stick baking paper.
- Put the honey and oil in a small saucepan over medium heat and stir until well combined and heated through. Set aside.
- Put the rolled oats, millet, coconut, cinnamon, cranberries, currants and almonds in a large bowl and mix to combine evenly. Add the honey mixture and stir to combine. Using damp hands, press the mixture firmly into the lined tin. Press the mixture with the back of a spoon to make the surface smooth and even.
- Bake for 40–50 minutes or until the surface is dark golden brown all over. Cool completely in the tin before cutting into bars.
These muesli bars will keep in an airtight container for up to 1 week. For extra-crisp muesli bars, store in an airtight container in the refrigerator.
You can stay in-touch with Anneka and all that’s happening at BakeClub by grabbing a copy of their monthly Newsletter; following them on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, or joining one of their fab Bake Classes.
Photography: Bree Hutchins