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As kids get ready to go back to school in the next few weeks, I’d like to share this recipe for an extra-special homemade treat to boost your child’s health and send along some love during the school day. Even though my kids are homeschooled, they greatly enjoy taking a homemade snack along on a field trip or to a co-op class. Annabel Karmel is a cookbook author I’ve enjoyed for a while- she takes simple, healthy ingredients and prepares them in kid-friendly ways that are innovative but not too time consuming. Her cookbooks are full of cute pictures of bagels shaped as dragons, teddy bear chicken burgers, and faces on muffins.


Promise not to judge this photo… It was taken early on in my food photography career, and I’ve since evolved beyond using flash!

Granola Bars

This granola bar recipe is one we’ve made a number of times, and is easily customizable to your family by varying the fruit or nuts you choose. I love that you can control the sugar and skip anything artificial that is typically added to processed snacks. Karmel is British and her ingredients are a bit different, so I use honey in place of the syrup.  If you happen to be gluten-free, make sure to use certified gluten-free oats and gluten-free rice cereal (oats themselves do not contain gluten, but are typically contaminated in processing unless special care is taken). You could take out a second mortgage to afford buying gluten-free snacks, so keep a little extra in your wallet by making them yourself. It’s not too labor intensive, and one of those fun recipes that begs to let the kids get involved. After it has cooled, I invert the pan onto the counter so it’s easier to work with, and cut them into individual bars or squares (a pizza cutter works great). Then I wrap them individually in foil or plastic wrap, and store in the freezer in a gallon-size Ziploc bag. As backpacks are getting packed for the day, it’s easy to toss one in frozen and know it’ll be ready by snack time.

Individual bars, ready for the freezer

Individual bars, ready for the freezer

If you have a favorite snack recipe, share your recipe below.  To find out what’s new in our kitchen, stop by, or become a fan on Facebook. Peruse past blogs and keep current with new blogs at

I haven’t made this recipe in a while, but it’s part of one of my favorite fun family dinners.  One of the most creative chefs I’ve found, Annabel Karmel, has myriad of cookbooks, ranging from baby foods to kids’ cooking to family meals.  This dinner is so cute, it’s impossible not to love it.

This teddy bear burger begins with ground chicken breast, and has chunks of apple blended within.  The recipe instructs you to grind your own chicken, but you can purchase it ground and skip that step if you’d like.  Accompanying the Sneaky Chef’s whole grain mac and cheese (with pureed cauliflower), and served alongside steamed veggies and fresh fruit, somewhere on this plate is bound to be something healthy your family will eat.

To find out what’s new in our kitchen, stop by, or become a fan on Facebook.  Happy cooking!

I have to admit, I’ve been feeling uninspired in the kitchen lately.  Looking back at the past few weeks, I’ve been cooking less, and we’ve been eating lots of leftovers.  Spring seems stuck in hibernation, and we face another gloomy, chilly Monday.  I’m gathering up the energy to plan a few week’s worth of meals, and am willing myself to find inspiration.  I share this with you, the HVP audience, as I know I’m not alone.  How do we tap into inspiration?  For me, it’s doing two things.  I start by perusing my refrigerator, freezer, and pantry, and find items that need to be cooked, or that I haven’t used in a while.  Next I pull out a cookbook, my food binder (full of plenty of recipes waiting to be tried, as well as old favorites), or go online and search for new recipes.  After a few minutes of gathering ideas, I’m usually back on track; excited to try out something new, jotting down meals try over the next few days.

I’d love to hear the recipes that get you out of a cooking rut, as well as food sites you love, and where you go for inspiration.  For now, I’ll share a tasty dish I made last week–  a quick chicken and vegetable stir-fry served over noodles.  The recipe comes straight from Annabel Karmel’s “Family Favorite Meals,” and features a delicious sauce that my family loved.  It was easy to double and save half for another night, which we did.  It tasted like chinese food, but was undoubtably healthier, so it’s a fun one to serve to kids.  Karmel’s books have a lot of quick, appealing dinners– check her out!  If you’re searching for inspiration, it’s a great place to start.

To find out what’s for dinner at our house, stop by, or become a fan on Facebook.  Happy cooking!

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