Double Chocolate Lunchbox Bites (Nut-Free)

Nut-Free Double Chocolate Lunchbox Bites |

The Bean starts junior kindergarten next month (gasp!) and while I should be focused on the important things (you know, reading, writing, teaching her to tie her shoes), I’m mostly just thinking about lunch.

Yes, come September 8 the Bean will be a kindergartener, and I will be a lunch-packer.

Nut-Free Double Chocolate Lunchbox Bites |

It’s a job that I figure will last at least a decade (a tad optimistic, seeing as I also have an 18 month old living under my roof), and one that I intend to take very seriously. At least until October.

And since this is a blog all about how I feed my hungry family, you can expect a little bit of school lunch content from this point forward. I hope that’s ok with you.

Nut-Free Double Chocolate Lunchbox Bites |

I’m starting with dessert, naturally. It wouldn’t be a school lunch without some sort of sweet treat, right? In my youth, there were usually Chips Ahoy or Fudgee-Os at the bottom of the bag, and maybe a couple of homemade chocolate chip cookies when my mom had time to bake. I also recall toting leftover apple pie or berry crumble now and again—usually on a Monday after a big Sunday dinner. (I also vividly remember accidentally dumping an entire container of apple pie on a student six years my senior—a trauma from which I have never fully recovered.)

These Double Chocolate Lunchbox Bites have all the appeal of my old Fudgee-Os, but without all the sugar and other unmentionables. Whole grains, healthy fats and protein are rolled into a sweet little nut-free no-bake healthy energy bite that will fuel your little guy or gal through a busy school day. Even if it’s the only thing she eats.

Nut-Free Double Chocolate Lunchbox Bites |

This recipe is relatively adaptable, so you can use whatever you have on hand. If your school doesn’t have any nut restrictions, you could swap out the sunflower seeds for almonds and the sunflower seed butter for a nut butter. If you can’t get your hands on hemp hearts, try chia seeds or flax seeds. And  honey could likely stand in nicely for the maple syrup.

I recommend storing these in the freezer; they will keep their shape and freshness that way. Just pop them into your kid’s lunchbox in the morning, and they will be soft and chocolatey by snack time.

Nut-Free Double Chocolate Lunchbox Bites |

Double Chocolate Lunchbox Bites (Nut-Free)
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
Serves: 18-24
  • ½ cup raw hulled sunflower seeds
  • 1 cup rolled oats (not quick cooking)
  • 2 tablespoons hemp hearts
  • 3 tablespoons cocoa powder
  • ⅓ cup unsweetened shredded coconut
  • ¼ cup sunflower seed butter
  • ⅓ cup virgin coconut oil, melted
  • ¼ cup pure maple syrup
  • ¼ cup mini chocolate chips
  • Pinch of sea salt
  1. Use a food processor, coffee grinder or nutri-bullet to coarsely grind the sunflower seeds. (You should just pulse it a few times, so that you are left with some whole seeds and some broken seeds.)
  2. Dump the ground sunflower seeds into a large mixing bowl, add the remaining ingredients, and stir well to combine.
  3. Transfer the mixture to the refrigerator to set slightly. This will take about half an hour.
  4. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Remove the mixture from the fridge and use your hands to roll it into approximately 1 inch balls. Place the balls on the parchment-lined baking sheet and put the sheet into the fridge until the balls are very firm.
  5. Transfer the balls to a large freezer-safe container, with parchment paper between each layer.
  6. Pack a couple of frozen balls in a lunch box and they will be chewy and chocolatey by snack time!


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Slow Cooker Butter Chicken Sliders

Slow Cooker Butter Chicken Sliders |

This post was approved by Kiwi. I wouldn’t dare share an Indian recipe without his buy-in.

When I first mentioned “butter chicken,” he hesitated. And at “sliders,” he raised his eyebrows, as if to say—“could you be any whiter, my love?”

But who can resist a pile of slow-cooked shredded chicken piled high on a soft slider bun? Not Kiwi, certainly. And once he got over the whiteness of it all, he was on board and full of ideas: “oh, it would be great with a little mango chutney and some sliced red onions….oh and cilantro…definitely cilantro”. Continue Reading →

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Meals from the Farmers’ Market (Part I)

Farmers' Market Meals |

Kiwi almost left me over a farmers’ market incident. He has never come out and told me straight, but I’m quite certain it’s true.

Years ago we were in Quebec City—our first trip as a couple, I think—and I casually suggested that we spend the morning at the local farmers’ market. He slowly looked up from his hotel breakfast, clearly bewildered by this idea, and shocked that he had managed to fall in love with someone whose idea of a vacation-worthy morning was a trip to a grocery store.

Farmers' Market Meals |

This was years before farmers’ markets and CSAs became fetishized by the 100-Mile Diet. Kiwi had no idea at the time, but I was on to something.

These days Kiwi is equally likely to suggest a Saturday morning trip to the farmers’ market. Mostly for the taco salads, Belgian waffles, stevia-sweetened lemonade, and the buskers that bring out the groove in our toddler.

Farmers' Market Meals |

I, on the other hand, go to the market in search of the gnarliest Jerusalem artichokes and the sweetest salad greens, and to cross-examine the farmers about whether they sprayed the radishes that week. At this time of year, the farmers’ offerings dictate my meal plan. I buy what looks fresh and tasty, even if I have no idea what I might do with it.

Farmers' Market Meals |

It used to be that a good portion of this market haul would go to waste—dandelion greens bought on excited impulse, now wilting at the bottom of my refrigerator because I couldn’t figure out how the heck to turn them into dinner.

But social media—and Instagram in particular—has changed that. I spend enough of my day with my face buried in photos of beautiful farmstand creations that I’m now overwhelmed with ideas and inspiration.

And today I’m sharing some of that inspiration with you. These are recipes (some my own, some from elsewhere) for seasonal veggie-ful meals and sides that my family has recently enjoyed. I happen to be out on the west coast of Canada right now, where the produce is ridiculously varied and abundant, but in this post I’m highlighting ingredients that you should be able to find at just about any North American summer market—leafy greens, tomatoes, green beans and zucchini.

My intention is to come back to you with more farm market inspiration as the seasons, and produce, change. And in the meantime, I’d love it if you shared your own favourite seasonal meals. Just scroll down to the comments and leave a link or recipe.

Leafy Greens (Dandelion Greens + Swiss Chard)

My kids won’t touch dandelion greens (too tough! too bitter!) but after reading something about the cancer-preventing power of bitter foods, I wanted to incorporate them into our summer meals. I stumbled on this Bon Appetit recipe for Bitter Greens with Corn and Shallots, and it’s a perfect family dinner compromise. The bitter greens (you could use something milder than dandelion greens) are topped with a warm vinaigrette featuring bacon and corn, and there’s enough of it that you can scoop a pile of warm bacony corn niblets onto the kiddos’ plates.

Farmers' Market Meals |

Milder than kale and dandelion greens, swiss chard melts beautifully into this Swiss Chard and Lemon Ricotta Pasta from Food52. Our only complaint about this dish is that there wasn’t enough of it! I recommend that you double the recipe, particularly if you like your leftovers. (*Note: I used brown rice penne to make this dish completely wheat free.)

Farmers' Market Meals |

Green Beans

I could survive an entire summer eating only green beans. They have this nostalgic and summery flavour that I can’t get enough of. While I enjoy them just simply steamed with a bit of lemon juice and and salt, this Grilled Green Bean Salad from Aimee at Simple Bites takes them to the next level. It’s one of the tastiest things I’ve eaten in a very long time.

Farmers' Market Meals |

Aimee’s recipe is just a guideline, and she encourages you to dress your salad up with whatever you’ve got. I topped mine with lemon-infused olive oil, sherry vinegar and shaved parmesan cheese.

Don’t be intimidated by grilling the beans—it’s actually much simpler and more straightforward than it sounds.


I’ve always thought it unfortunate that restaurants offer “caprese” (i.e. tomato and fresh mozzarella) salads all year round. It’s a dish that should be reserved for mid-summer, when tomatoes are at their very best. I could make an entire meal out of this caprese salad, but it’s excellent aside grilled fish or chicken (nothing too strongly flavoured, though—you want to be able to taste the lovely tomatoes!).

Farmers' Market Meals |

To make this version: wedge up 3 large or 5 small ripe tomatoes. Then tear up a large ball of fresh mozzarella (I prefer buffalo to cow’s milk) and a small bunch of fresh basil and scatter both over of the tomatoes. Drizzle with good quality olive oil and sprinkle generously with sea salt. You can add balsamic vinegar if you can’t imagine caprese without it, but when the tomatoes are super fresh and ripe, I think this salad is better without it.


You haven’t lived until you’ve eaten thinly shaved zucchini tossed with a mustardy vinaigrette. Truth. Start with small-ish zucchini, and use a veggie peeler to shave them lengthwise into very thin ribbons. Eat them in a kale or lettuce salad, or all on their own, tossed with the vinaigrette from this salad (or something similar) and topped with chopped fresh herbs, a handful of crumbled feta and toasted almonds.

Farmers' Market Meals |

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Banh Mi Rice Bowls

Banh Mi Rice Bowls |

Despite my best attempts to expose my kids to the widest possible variety of foods and flavours, I have been blessed with a “particular” eater. There was a time when the Bean (now 4 years old) would eat just about anything I put onto her plate. And yes I gloated (if only silently), figuring I had done something pretty right-on in the kid-feeding department.

But I gloated too soon, apparently, because these days I’m lucky if she eats a plate of pasta and tomato sauce without asking me to “wash off” the sauce. Continue Reading →

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