The kitchen has always been an important room to me. Growing up, it’s where my family and I shared almost every single dinner (missing dinner was rarely allowed). The kitchen is where I had countless conversations with my sweet dad, and probably a few disagreements, too. But mostly lots of laughter and teasing my dad for his forgetfulness. It’s where my siblings and I gathered for hours of schoolwork. When I was a teenager, it’s where mom left notes like “take out the trash” or “don’t forget your lunch; it’s in the fridge” before leaving the house for work in the morning. The kitchen has been such a central and essential place in my life.
Now that I have my own children, I cherish that time spent in the kitchen even more, for the memories I’m making with my little family. I hope my girls feel the same about our kitchen & home as I do about my childhood home. We’re in there each & every day for all our meals. The kitchen table is my desk, and sometimes I shut the doors and the girls play on the floor while I work. We’re in the kitchen for all Zoe’s arts and crafts. And if we have special baking days, like we did for today’s post, in partnership with Skeeter Nut Free, we’re there for another hour or two. We basically live in the kitchen. It’s a good thing I like my kitchen table & the northerly window that produces magical light.
The kitchen has been a place for me to teach and just be present with my children, and I am so very thankful for this opportunity. Zoe asks me a million questions, she begs to help unload the dishwasher. She always wants to get out the “measures” (measuring spoons and cups) when we’re baking, and all the ingredients within her reach. She knows when things are too hot to touch or when she shouldn’t handle breakable things. And she just loves being together and “helping”; I hope she always feels this way.
A few days ago, while Naomi took her afternoon nap, Zoe and I spent a few hours in the kitchen together doing some experimental baking with Skeeter Nut Free cinnamon grahams, one of our new favorite snacks. Zoe asks for “squirrel cookies” every single day! Skeeter Nut Free has several 100% nut-free products, and they’re super delicious & affordable! We don’t have any nut allergies in our family, but the girls have a few friends with severe allergies, so we wanted a perfect, nutrient-packed snack to share with our friends. I decided to try to create a healthy, nut-free power bar. On my second attempt, I came up with this absolutely delicious recipe (and Joe likes them too, which might be a bad thing, because now they disappear quickly)!
These bars are full of protein and other wonderful nutrients. Pumpkin seeds are a nutritional powerhouse with lots of magnesium, copper, protein, and zinc. Pumpkin seeds are also a great source of antioxidants. Chia seeds have high levels of antioxidants, are a great source of omega-3 fats and fiber, and are full of calcium, phosphorus, magnesium, and manganese. So these power bars will not only satisfy the girls’ hunger, but also boost their energy and provide essential minerals & fats.
Nut-Free Power Bars
makes about 15-20 kid-sized bars
– 1 1/2 cups Skeeter Nut Free Cinnamon Grahams, ground finely
– 6 tablespoons grass-fed butter, melted (I almost always use salted butter, because I love it, but feel free to use what you prefer. If you use unsalted butter, you may need to add salt to the recipe.)
– 1/2 cup old fashioned oats, coarsely chopped
– 1/4 cup flax seeds, chopped
– 1/4 cup pumpkin seeds, chopped
– 1/8 cup chia seeds, chopped
– 1/2 cup dried apricots, chopped
– 1/2 cup dried cranberries, chopped
– 1 ripe banana, mashed
Note: For all the chopping and grinding in this recipe, I use my smart stick hand blender. It’s my favorite kitchen tool. So easy to wash, store, and perfect for when you’re beginning to introduce food to babies. It also has an immersion blender, which is so handy when making puréed soups.
Preheat oven to 325. Line an 11″ x 7″ baking pan with parchment paper. Then prepare the Skeeter Nut Free cinnamon grahams crust. Grind or crush the grahams until they’re pretty fine. Dump into medium bowl and drizzle with melted butter. Mix thoroughly, and press into parchment-lined pan. Using a measuring cup or the bottom of a glass cup works well to get the crust really pressed into the pan.
Next, chop the other ingredients, except the banana. First the oats, then dump them into the empty graham cracker bowl. I chop all the seeds together; the chia and flax don’t really get chopped, but I at least try. When you chop the cranberries, depending on how dry they are you may need to add a bit of water to make them chop-able. Dump everything into the bowl with the oats. Mash the banana, and stir into oat mixture.
Smooth this mixture over the cinnamon graham crust. Then bake in preheated oven for about 25 minutes (they won’t rise). Allow to cool completely, then cut into squares. If you don’t eat them all immediately, store in an air-tight container for up to two weeks.
This is a sponsored conversation written by me on behalf of Skeeter Nut Free. All opinions are my own!
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