Nature's Bakery Brownies: Review by My 9 Year Old

This product review was written by my 9 year old. Nature's Bakery generously sent us their products to try. 

Nature's Bakery products

When the Nature’s Bakery package arrived in the mail it made my day! I love brownies, but since my little sister cannot have dairy, we don’t eat them a lot, except when my mom makes dairy free Wacky Cake brownies. I love the Nature’s Bakery Fig Bars - Apple Cinnamon is my favorite - so I was excited to try the Nature’s Bakery brownies.

It was so fun to be able to try four different brownies at the same time and I'm happy to report that they are really good! The brownies are cakey with four different flavors: Raspberry Chocolate, Double Chocolate, Mint Chocolate and Blueberry Chocolate. All the flavors have the same texture, but the added flavors make a big difference in taste. They are dairy free and nut free so all three kids can have them, which my mom loves. My personal favorite is the mint! I added these to our LaLa Lunchbox Food Library so now my mom has been packing them pretty regularly. You should give them a try! 

My lunch with a Nature's Bakery Brownie (Chocolate Mint)

My lunch with a Nature's Bakery Brownie (Chocolate Mint)

My brother's lunch with a Nature's Bakery Brownie (Raspberry) 

My brother's lunch with a Nature's Bakery Brownie (Raspberry) 

Granola Bar Recipe: nut free, dairy free, and packed with protein

Life as a parent is infinitely more complicated than I could have imagined as a kid playing "house." The little things that make it easier (like packing lunch at night) are complete godsends. Simple, straightforward recipes are just as important. These granola bars are outrageously delicious and easy to make with my kids (prep time is only 15 minutes!) and I feel great knowing that there are no unpronounceable ingredients and nothing artificial. This recipe is also nut free, dairy free, packed with fiber and protein and can be easily modified with slight changes (noted below). I’m happy to pack these with my kids’ lunches any day of the week.

LaLa Granola Bars
granola bars

The Recipe:
1 ⅓ cups rolled oats (old fashioned, not instant)
1/3 cup oat flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
2 tablespoons ground flax meal
1/2 cup raisins (*can substitute dried cherries instead)
1 cup puffed kamut cereal (*can substitute puffed brown rice cereal)
6 tablespoons coconut oil (*can substitute vegetable oil)
2/3 cup sunflower seed butter (*can substitute any nut butter)
1/2 cup honey
2 tablespoons water
1/3 cup dairy free chocolate chips (*can use any chocolate chips, or eliminate completely)

The Method
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper
In a mixing bowl, add the oats, oat flour, salt, cinnamon and flax meal. Mix thoroughly.
Add the raisins, puffed kamut and coconut oil and stir to eliminate clumps in the coconut oil. Fold in the soy nut butter, honey and water, carefully coating the ingredients but not pulverizing them in the process. Finally add the chocolate chips.
Spread evenly on the parchment paper. Mixture should be about one inch thick.
Bake for 30 minutes.

Let cool for ten minutes and cut into bars.


Chick Pea Kale Patties

Last year I found this Chick Pea and Parsley Patties recipe via Aimee at Simple Bites and it has become a standby in my house. My husband and I wolf them down and my youngest, who loves foods that are full of flavor, can't get enough of them. I made some modifications to the original recipe - initially based on ingredient availability in my own kitchen (recipe below) - and they were such a hit that we've continued to make them this way. This recipe is straightforward, simple and delicious. 

Chick Pea and Kale patties

Ingredients: chick peas, kale, dill, lemon, garlic, dried shallots, ground corriander, ground cumin, olive oil, flour and egg.  

Chick pea kale patty 2

Combine all of the ingredients except eggs and oil and refrigerate for several hours to let the flavors open up to each other. Add those ingredients into a food processor along with the egg and combine until the mixture is a chunky batter. Some of the chick peas may remain whole and that's okay. 

Chick pea kale patties 3

Spoon the batter into a hot pan with olive oil, turn down the heat to medium and fry the pancakes until golden brown on both sides. Holy moly. These things are jam packed with flavor and loaded with nutrition. Home run!

Chick pea kale patties 4
Chick pea Kale patties 5

Chick Pea and Kale Patties

One 15 ­oz can of chickpeas
1/2 cup chopped kale
1/4 cup chopped fresh dill
1 tablespoon dried shallot (or one fresh shallot, chopped) 
1 garlic clove
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon ground coriander
Juice of 1 lemon (approximately 2 tablespoons)
3 tablespoons whole wheat flour
2 large eggs
Approximately 1/4 cup olive oil for frying

Rinse and drain the chick peas. Pour them into a large mixing bowl. Add kale, dill, shallot, garlic, cumin, coriander, lemon, flour and combine. Let the batter sit for at least one hour so that the flavors play nicely together. In a food processor (or in a bowl with a potato masher) mash the ingredients together until they form a batter (chunky is good, don't worry if it's not uniform). Add eggs and form into patties with your hands or a spoon. Heat half of the olive oil in a frying pan on medium heat and fry until golden brown (about 4-5 minutes per side). Repeat. This made 12 patties for us. Reduce the heat if they appear to be burning. Serve warm or room temperature with a dollop of sour cream or sea salt yogurt. Enjoy!

Earthbound Farm Coupon Giveaway

If your New Years resolution is to include more produce in your daily routine, I've got great news for you! Our friends at Earthbound Farm have provided coupons for 10 LaLa Lunchbox fans to use to get any Earthbound Farm product for FREE

earthbound farm coupon

Here's what you have to do to enter to win: 
Comment here or on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram and let us know what your kids' favorite fruit or vegetable is and which item you'd like to get free from Earthbound. You can enter each day if you'd like. 

It's that simple. 

We'll draw 10 names at random on Thursday, January 21 and announce the winners shortly thereafter. Good luck! 


3 Uses for Coconut Milk Yogurt

Are you a "phase" person? I definitely am. There are periods where I have oatmeal and a banana every morning without fail, and then suddenly I realize it's been months without it. There are weeks where I can't get enough eggs, and then one day I notice that there are still three eggs in the dozen that I bought ten days ago. This past summer I had a phase where I ate giant breaded chicken cutlet sandwiches for lunch several times a week, and now I can't remember the last time I had one. These phases begin and end unceremoniously and in between, I eat a variety of things like a regular person. 

It dawned on me today that I'm in a new phase: I'm currently obsessed with Anita's coconut milk yogurt (this post is not sponsored, I genuinely love this stuff). Coconut milk yogurt is dry and thick, like a strained Greek yogurt and has a pleasant tang that makes it perfectly suited for both sweet and savory dishes. The brand I've been buying lately has just 3 ingredients: coconut milk, coconut water and live probiotic cultures. It's rich and filling, with no added sugar which means it's great for everyone in my house, including my youngest who cannot have cow's milk  dairy. It's high in fat, low in protein and sugar. I'm not put off my the high fat content because even 1-2 tablespoons of this goes a long way and I believe in moderation of everything. I'm also not concerned by the lack of protein because my family gets a solid amount of protein regularly so I try to focus on the big picture. 
So what can you do with coconut yogurt? 

1. Coconut yogurt is a perfect soup companion. Today felt like a soup day so I prepared this quick red lentil soup before getting started with work and when hunger hit, I poured myself a bowl and immediately reached for the coconut yogurt to make it creamy and even more delicious. Hours later, I am still completely satisfied. 

red lentil soup with coconut yogurt

2. Coconut yogurt works wonders for breakfast. Last weekend I made my favorite batch of apple pancakes using coconut yogurt (instead of kefir or soy or goat milk, as I usually do). I had to thin the batter by adding some additional coconut milk and they were a huge hit with my kids. Other quick breakfast ideas include coconut yogurt with granola and fruit, or a waffle smeared with a tablespoon of coconut yogurt in place of a nut butter or other spread. 

4-ingredient vegan chocolate mousse

3. Coconut yogurt is terrific with dessert! Need a quick dairy free chocolate mousse? Coconut yogurt is your answer. Four-ingredient chocolate mousse is simple and delicious because it's not too sweet and the creamy texture is perfect alone or with fruit. You can also top a cookie with a dollop of coconut yogurt, or use two to make a sandwich! 

coconut yogurt with gingersnap cookies

If you can't find coconut yogurt in your neck of the woods, you can make it on your own.  

Have you tried coconut yogurt? What do you think? 


Carrot Soup for Cold Weather

Tonight's dinner plan calls for turkey meatballs with marinara sauce and pasta. I'm not sure what to do about that because it's freezing here in New York and a craving for warm soup completely took over and I've just made this giant batch of carrot soup. 

carrot soup
ingredients for carrot soup

It was innocent enough; I had all of the ingredients in the kitchen and this soup is easy enough to prep and finish in under an hour so it seemed like a good idea. And that giant bowl I just had for lunch really hit the spot. The hardest part of this soup was pureeing it, because after my run-in with a stick blender a couple of years ago when I almost lost two fingers, I threw it out and my only option is a blender, which does the job, but not as seamlessly. 

If you're craving something hearty and warm and also vegetarian, I've got you covered. 

carrot soup on the stove

Carrot Soup with Sweet Potato

carrot soup in the blender

4 tablespoons of grapeseed or vegetable oil
5 -6 cippolini onions, chopped, or one small yellow onion chopped
2 pounds of carrots, peeled and cut into pieces  
2 sweet potatoes
7 cups vegetable stock or water
1/3 cup fresh dill, chopped  
Salt and pepper to taste
Juice of one lemon + zest of one lemon

In a large pot on medium high heat,  add the oil and onions. Sauté until translucent, approximately 3-5 minutes. Add the carrots and potatoes and stir. Add the stock or water, bring to a boil and simmer for approximately 35 minutes. Add the dill, salt and pepper and continue to cook until vegetables are soft. Add the lemon juice and purée with a stick blender.  Garnish with lemon zest.

Want more carrot soup ideas? Right this way and here too

For more deliciously hearty winter soups, check out: 
Winter Root Soup  
Lentil Curry Soup
Kale Soup

2016 Lunch Resolutions

Let’s face it: lunch packing can be a real drag. If you find that the holiday season has taken your family's eating off course and you're cobbling together whatever you can muster for lunches but yearn for varied and healthful meals for your brood, you're not alone, and it's time for a reboot

school lunch

Lunch should provide the energy that kids need to make it through what often feels like a long day. But unless those lunches are also tasty, they will come back wasted and uneaten at the end of the day. I don't know about you, but when my kids are starving, the cranky factor goes through the roof and pretty much immobilizes them.  And seriously, how disgusting is that sandwich after it’s been sitting in that lunchbox for 8+ hours?! Packing lunch also requires getting groceries and having a plan so that you're prepared, but browsing the aisles with multiple meals and multiple family members in mind can quickly feel like a cringe-causing chore. 

meal planning for kids

I'm a firm believer in getting the kiddos involved from the get-go for smoother family sailing and created the LaLa Lunchbox app to make this a reality. Here's why: 

LaLa Lunchbox meal planning screen

1. It takes the stress off of you. Woo hoo! No more arguments in the morning because you ran out of your son's favorite turkey and have exactly 8 minutes to figure out lunch before you all have to leave the house. Pass the iPhone, iTouch or iPad to the kids and watch how fast they choose their lunches for an entire week! When the kids plan their own meals (with as much or as little input from you as you'd like), there's no mystery in "what's for lunch". You can even pack lunch at night and gain an extra ten minutes in the morning. Hello, coffee! LaLa Lunchbox is designed with four categories so that kids develop an understanding of what comprises a balanced lunch. 

2. It saves you time. Scratch the meal planning chore off of your list! LaLa Lunchbox is completely customizable, so if you don't see what you want in the Food Library, you can add it at any time. By the same token, you can remove anything you don't want from the Food Library. We've created this feature to make LaLa Lunchbox available to all regardless of dietary lifestyle. 

manage the Food Library easily

3. It saves you money. Remember how awful it felt to throw out a perfectly good sandwich that was uneaten? When your child chooses, she is less likely to waste food and more excited to eat what she has chosen.

4. It’s an inspiring way for them to try new foods. Picky eaters beware! When kids are at the wheel, even the pickiest among them is more likely to try something new. Radishes anyone? 

5. It helps their organizational skills. Planning ahead is an incredibly useful skill! Get them started early. 

Sounds great, right? Don't just take our word for it... see what others are saying. And then pass the meal planning baton to your kids. Download LaLa Lunchbox today and kick off 2016 school lunches with a bang! Your entire family will thank you. 

Wishing you all a happy healthy New Year! 


p.s. Here's a list of our favorite lunchboxes. And if you're looking for nut-free lunch suggestions, look no further

Holiday Promo Codes!

Happy Holidays from LaLa Lunchbox! 

LaLa Lunchbox

Each year on January 1, parents vow to pack healthier lunches and get healthier breakfasts on the table on busy mornings after falling off the wagon during the holiday season. We're here to make that easier!

Use the promo codes below to download LaLa Lunchbox and LaLa Breakfast for FREE and you and your kiddos will leap into 2016 with a healthy start. 
To use these codes (and please be nice! Leave a comment to let others know if you have claimed the code so that they don't try in vain!): 
1. Copy the code
2. Open the App Store on your iPhone or iTouch
3. Scroll down and click "redeem" and paste the code. The app should download immediately. 
4. Questions? Email us. 

Need a little lunch inspiration? Right this way. Here's a quick overview of the features that are available on both apps. 

p.s. - these codes cannot be used for a free download after 1/22/16 

LaLa Breakfast

LaLa Lunchbox Promo Codes:


LaLa Breakfast Promo Codes: