I have been struggling with packing my child’s school lunch. We’re vegetarian and then there are all the allergy restrictions which we also have to consider for other students’ safety. At home, peanut butter and nuts in general are a big staple in our diet. We also some fish and my kids love salmon but fish is also not allowed at our school. I’m not saying the combination of vegetarianism and no nuts or fish makes food choices impossible for us but it does make me have to think about alternatives, specifically regarding protein. I can pack all the fruits and vegetables I want but they don’t give my kids the energy to power through the day.
I should mention my child goes to an outdoor school where they are outside and active much of the day. Protein is necessary and I can only pack the same handful of options so many times. Seeds, cheese, yogurt, chickpeas/hummus, repeat. It gets boring and bland and then lunches start to come home uneaten and my kid hungry and cranky.
So I’ve been looking for something that I can add to that mix that will store easily and/or freeze well. I like to make food in larger batches but it has to store well otherwise we all get tired of it and then it just gets thrown out.
Okay, that’s enough preable. This recipe is for protein balls that are nut-free, GF, dairy-free, high in protein, and filled with a variety of amazing foods. They are also easy to mix and match in whatever ingredients you’d prefer. Just switch out each item by the same volume. This also has a long ingredient list, but you can decrease them by recaibrating the amounts (as long as the total volume of dry is about 3 1/2 c.) I looked at a few recipes online, and tried some but the problem I had with them was they either were held together with a lot of sugar like a “brittle” recipe, or they were bonded with a seed butter and simply didn’t hold together at all. The dates are key, but they don’t overpower the bites and make them taste like date. Frankly, I hate dates.
School-safe Energy Bites
1/2 c. dry green lentils
1/4 c. quinoa
1/2 tsp. coconut oil
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
1 tsp. flour (any kind)
1/8 tsp. salt
1 1/2 c. flaked oats (look for GF label)
1/4 c. unsweetened shredded coconut
1/4 c. pumpkin seeds
1/4 c. dried cranberries (slightly chopped)
1/4 c. dark chocolate covered puffed amaranth (I got this in bulk barn- you could also use cacao nibs) **
2 tbsp. whole chia seeds + 1 tbsp. ground chia seeds **
1 tbsp. ground flax **
2 tbsp. hemp hearts (or more) **
1/2 c. dates
1/2 c. pumpkin seed butter (or any other seed butter)
1/4 c. agave
Preheat oven to 400. Line baking sheet with parchment paper.
Boil water and simmer lentils for 15 minutes, and cook quinoa as per directions.
Drain both and then mix in the coconut oil, cinnamon, flour, salt. Spread mixture evenly on parchment paper and bake for 15 minuts. Stir half way to bake evenly and that it’s not burning.
Set aside the lentils and quinoa to cool.
Mix together the rest of the dry ingredients (oats, coconut, seeds, cranberries, puffed amaranth, chia, flax, hemp hearts). When cool, add in the crispy lentils and quinoa.
In a food processor chop up the dates until they are a lumpy paste. Add the pumpkin seed butter and agave and pulse a few times. Add the dry mixture and pulse until date mixture is integrated.
Scoop with a teaspoon and roll into balls. Put the energy bites into the fridge for about 30 minutes to firm up.
Can be stored in an airtight container in the fridge for about 2 weeks or put them in the freezer for longer term storage.