banana

Blizzard Bars - Snow Day Fun with Kids!

Winter Storm Juno
Winter Storm Summer Fun

Is it snowing where you are? We're in the midst of Snowmageddon (Winter Storm Juno) and here in NYC there were crazy lines at the grocery stores last night and this morning as people prepared to hunker down while Mother Nature dumps 20+ inches of snow on the city. I know this because I was one of those line-standing people. Basically, we walked into the grocery store, got online at the entrance and shopped while we waited in the queue. My kids thought it was hilarious. I stocked up on things like clementines and chicken, bread, milk and eggs. My third grader had school as usual today (it's canceled tomorrow). My preschooler's school was canceled today and tomorrow (and my 2 year old doesn't go to school). My two younger kids and I went out in the snow before it got crazy outside. After getting home, we got into bathing suits and pretended it was summer. We read books, colored, built a fort, played on the iPad and I cut and prepped every vegetable in my fridge. Then I looked at the clock and it was 2:46 pm.

The day was long. It'll be even longer tomorrow. 

Tomorrow, we're making Blizzard Bars (aka Banana Oatmeal Bars). These are a household staple. It'll be great not just to pass the time with a fun cooking activity, but also to have a delicious, tasty snack on the ready. I may even add chocolate chips to the recipe. Because, Blizzard. This is going to be a super snow day activity, and if you have these four ingredients in your house -- ripe bananas, rolled oats, salt and vanilla extract -- you can make Blizzard Bars too! It's simple to make with really young kids, it's delicious and healthful, and with just four ingredients, you likely won't have to endure long grocery lines to make it a reality. Best part: you can take them to go when you bundle up to go sledding! 

banana oatmeal bars

Wishing you all the best in your quest to stay warm and entertained! 

Banana Oatmeal Bars

3 super ripe (aka brown) bananas

2 cups of rolled oats (not instant)

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

½ teaspoon salt

Optional: 1/2 cup of chocolate chips or raisins or dried cranberries

Method:

1. Preheat oven to 350. Line an 8×8 dish with parchment paper.

2. In a mixing bowl, mash the bananas until they are smooth.

3. Add the oats and mix to combine.

4. Add the vanilla extract and salt (and optional add-ins if you're using) and mix until the ingredients are evenly distributed.

5. Pour into baking dish. Bake for 25-28 minutes. Let cool for 10 minutes and enjoy.

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Banana Oatmeal Bars: Breakfast, made simpler.

I'm a morning person. To me, that means I get up and have energy, even on nights when I get less than 6 hours of sleep. Stressful mornings drive me up a wall. But realistically, there are so many moving parts in a house with three kids in two different schools and while I understand how hard it is to get everyone up and at 'em, I keep wondering what we can do to make the mornings a little easier on everyone. Breakfast is the one meal that my family has where we are all reliably together. As a gal who grew up on family dinners but can't yet get it together to make that happen with my family of five, I rely on breakfast as our time to connect. The food needs to be ready quickly so that we maximize our time at the table. 

Experts say breakfast is the most important meal of the day. It needs to be healthy and balanced so that kids make it to lunch. I've said it before: to make life easier on busy parents, breakfast likely needs to be assembled at least in part, the night before (and of course, chosen in advance). Voila! These Banana Oatmeal bars fit the bill. In a nutshell, it’s like making oatmeal with bananas. Only you do it in advance. And there’s no messy pot to clean. And it’s super easy, with just four ingredients, absolutely yummy, and a very healthy meal.

I have seen various iterations for bars like these. Many have seeds or nuts or raisins or dried fruit and those are certainly great options or additions. I’ve tinkered with several recipes to create this one that my family devours - and it's a straightforward recipe to make with kids. I love that it doesn’t require elaborate steps or ingredients or even things like flour, eggs or milk. There are four ingredients! This is nut free, dairy free and vegan and has great fiber, potassium and protein. There is zero added sugar. And for those mornings when we’re literally running out the door with part of breakfast tucked into a paper towel, these really come in handy. They also double as a fantastic mid-day snack for parents and kids alike. 

Will these eliminate your morning stress? No. But they may lighten the load, and that can make all the difference.  

Banana Oatmeal Bars

3 super ripe (aka brown) bananas

2 cups of rolled oats (not instant)

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

½ teaspoon salt

 

How to:

1. Preheat oven to 350. Line an 8×8 dish with parchment paper.

2. In a mixing bowl, mash the bananas until they are smooth.

3. Add the oats and mix to combine.

4. Add the vanilla extract and salt and mix until the ingredients are evenly distributed.

5. Pour into baking dish. Bake for 25-28 minutes. Let cool for 10 minutes and enjoy.

Here are some other recipes you might like: 
Guide to Safe, Nut-Free Lunches
Banana Sweet Potato Muffins
Banjo Muffins
Banana Pancake Kebabs
Carrot Soup with Ginger and Sweet Potato

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French Toast Kebabs

We're back from vacation and thinking about getting back into the swing of things before the back to school mayhem begins. This morning my kids slept past 7:00 am. We have just over a week until the new school year begins and they *finally* slept late. Ugh.   

Getting back into a routine can be a challenge. I'm procrastinating the whole thing and holding onto summer as long as possible. Let 'em sleep late! Let 'em have the extra books before bedtime. Let 'em discover the constellations with the Sky View app (translation: let 'em stay up late). 

This morning, as a celebration of the fact that it's a weekday but the kiddos are in no hurry to get anywhere, we had these french toast - banana kebabs

 

French toast banana kebabs

French toast banana kebabs

This breakfast is a family affair. My eldest cracked the eggs and helped cut the bread. My three year old cut the bananas and placed the bread in the egg-milk mixture. These are fun to eat and filling too. I realized that with a little advance prep (cutting the bread and slicing the bananas ahead of time) these might be feasible for a school morning (well, if the stars align properly on all other fronts). 

Here's the recipe:  

3 slices of whole grain bread
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 cup milk
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon (optional) 
2 bananas
butter for frying the french toast
kebab sticks

Cut the bread into squares (approximately 1-2 inches). Scramble the eggs in a shallow dish and add vanilla extract, milk and cinnamon (if using). Add bread and let it sit for several minutes. Turn to coat the other side of the bread with egg mixture. Heat the butter in a pan on medium heat.  Add the bread pieces and flip after a few minutes. When french toast squares are done, place on kebab stick alternating with banana slices. Enjoy!

 

Banana Sweet Potato Fig Muffins. Yum.

Transient

When I was little, my grandpa used to say he was waiting for someone to invent "smell-a-vision" so that when you watched a cooking show or talked on the phone with someone, you would be able to smell whatever it was that was cooking in their kitchen. If smell-a-vision was here today, you might want to call my house now.

The little guy and I had a muffin adventure in the kitchen this morning... an experimental recipe that went awry when I realized (after putting the muffins in the oven) that I had forgotten the baking soda AND the baking powder. Ugh.

I spent a full moment debating whether I should fix it or leave it - apparently aloud. When my son started saying "Mommy, what you forgot?" I realized we had come too far to have a muffin disaster. My son had personally added nearly every ingredient. He stuck his chubby little fingers into the batter so delightfully when it was fully mixed. He was excited about the final product. And I was too. So I took them out, poured the warm batter into a bowl, added the missing ingredients and put them back in the oven.

Boy does it smell awesome in here. And thankfully, the old adage about better late than never is totally true when it comes to rising agents. My son just wolfed down two of these muffins (with my assistance, of course). 

Here's the recipe for Banana Sweet Potato Fig Muffins - baking soda and powder included. 

Enjoy!

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

In a bowl combine:

  • 3 very ripe bananas, mashed
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/2 c vegetable oil
  • 1 cup canned unsweetened sweet potato puree
  • 1 TB maple syrup
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1 1/2 cups flour
  • 4 dried figs, chopped
  • 2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp salt

Mix thoroughly. Pour into muffin lined tin and bake for approximately 24 minutes.

Banana Muffins - Dairy Free and Egg Free

Transient

My little guy is turning 2 on Friday. Hooray! In preparation for his party, I bought fun cupcake liners yesterday and when he found them on the kitchen counter this morning, he pleaded, "Mama! My want a muppin peez." Really, how can you say no to that? 

Transient

As it happens, we had four bananas that were desperate for muffin making, so we set to work. My son gets a big thrill out of pouring and stirring -- this particular batch has about three times the recommended cinnamon - but he was having such a good time, I just let it go. They still taste pretty good! And with no added sugar, these are a nice snack. 

Transient

Years ago, my daughter went to preschool with a child who had dairy and egg allergies so I found and refined a recipe for vegan banana muffins that I could safely bring into her classroom. It has become my go-to recipe any time I'm baking with my kids. They love to lick the bowl so this egg-free recipe is a winning solution for everyone. 

Dairy and Egg Free Banana Muffins

Ingredients: 

  • 4 super ripe bananas
  • 1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/2 c vegetable oil
  • 1 c applesauce 

Preheat oven to 350. 

Mix all dry ingredients together in a small bowl. Set aside. In another bowl, mash the bananas. Add vanilla extract, vegetable oil and applesauce and mix together. Add dry ingredients to wet ones and stir to combine. We like leaving the banans slightly chunky. 

Pour into muffin pan lined with cupcake liners and bake for approximately 22-24 minutes. Makes about 12 muffins. 

Let cool for 10 minutes and enjoy! 

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