No-Bake Pumpkin Oatmeal Energy Bites

Quick, healthy no-bake pumpkin oatmeal energy bites that taste like cookies but are good for you! They are going to be your go-to healthy snack all fall long.

Oatmeal bites are one of my all time favorite snacks and we make them all the time. I always have a container of some variation of these on hand for quick snacks, easy additions to lunch boxes, and for on-the-go car snacking. Once you start making these you’ll never stop because they are healthy, easy, quick to put together, and store very well.

The bones of this recipe is oats, pumpkin, a nut butter, and honey – everything else you can add to your liking. I love to throw in chia seeds because they help the oat balls stick together well and have some great fats in them. I also add things like coconut flakes or nuts (pecans are delicious) in place of the chocolate chips sometimes. You can really tailor these to suit your taste. I love that they have pumpkin in them too. Hooray for more veggies in life. The pumpkin makes the color of the oatmeal bites so bright and pretty, too.

You can’t go wrong with healthy fats, whole grains, and good carbs packaged in easy-to-grab little bites of fall time heaven. Make these ASAP!

Quick No Bake Pumpkin Oatmeal Energy Bites are going to be your go-to healthy snack all fall long.

Tips and Tricks for Making No-Bake Pumpkin Oatmeal Energy Bites:

  • Chances are, you have everything on hand to make these. Always a win. Don’t have chia seeds on hand? Leave them out or sub them for something else like hemp seed hearts, chopped nuts, or some coconut flakes (and you can go up to a 1/2 cup of those things if you like).
  • You can use old-fashioned or quick oats or a combo of the two, depending on the texture you are going for. Quick oats will yield a softer energy bite and the old-fashioned oats will make them chewier. I used half and half and was really pleased with how they turned out.
  • They are no-bake and store super well. They have been great in lunch boxes, for after-school snacks, as a pre-workout snack at 5 am before weight lifting, and at bedtime when I’m ready for the kids to be in bed but they are suddenly starving. I love having little healthy snacks on hand. These are the perfect boxes to keep these in the fridge, just FYI.
  • If you find your oat balls aren’t sticking together well when rolled, let them chill in the fridge for 20 minutes and try again. If they are too sticky, try adding a few more tablespoons of oats.
  • Looking for other variations of the oatmeal energy bite? I have a huge post with 8 (yes 8!) different combos right here for you.

Pumpkin Oatmeal Energy Bites are going to be your go-to healthy snack all fall long.
Craving more? Subscribe to Bless this Mess to get new recipes, meal plans, and a newsletter delivered straight to your inbox! If you try this recipe, let me know what you think! Leave a comment, pin it, and don’t forget to tag a picture #blessthismesseat on Instagram. I love to see your kitchen skills in action!

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Healthy Pumpkin Blender Muffins

Healthy Pumpkin Blender Muffins are made by placing wholesome ingredients in a blender and processing until smooth. Simply blend, bake, and enjoy!

Have you heard of blender muffins yet? They were new to me until this summer when I started making them and now I love love love them! The idea is that you use the blender to do all of the work and you end up with a one “bowl” muffin that tastes great. The perk of using the blender is that you can turn whole grain oats into oat flour and you don’t have to mash ingredients like apples, carrots, bananas, or anything else that might need chopped up or mashed in a muffin ahead of time. Just toss what you need in the blender, and let it do it’s thing. Plus, a blender is really easy to pour that batter out of!

My kids love blender muffins because if I help them measure, they can pretty much make muffins on their own. There’s no chopping needed and getting the batter from the blender jar to the muffin tin is so simple. I actually have a few blender muffin recipes up my sleeve so be on the lookout for them!

I love this Healthy Pumpkin Blender Muffin recipes because it’s made with whole ingredients like pure maple syrup (and no other sugars), pumpkin, whole grain oats, and other wholesome things I don’t mind my kids eating for breakfast, lunch, and snacks. We added good quality chocolate chips because pumpkin muffins and chocolate chips are meant to go together, but you can always leave them out.

These are the perfect side dish to eat with eggs in the morning, to stick in your lunch boxes, and to serve alongside soup, stew, and chili all winter long. You are going to love them, and your kids will too!

This recipe is part of Pumpkin Week that I’m doing with Emily from One Lovely Life. You can check out her Pumpkin Cornbread Muffins here. Long live all the pumpkin muffins!

Healthy Pumpkin Blender Muffins are made by placing wholesome ingredients in a blender and processing until smooth. Simply blend, bake, and enjoy!

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Easy After School Snacks for the Busy Family

This is a sponsored post written by me on behalf of The makers of the HORMEL™ NATURAL CHOICE™ brand. All opinions are 100% mine.

These easy after school snacks are simple to prep ahead of time and made with wholesome ingredients. You all know how much I enjoy a good Meal Prep Monday session, and now that my kids are back in school, I find myself prepping easy after-school snacks once a week so that when they come in the door I have some great options for them. All of these are simple, no-bake, and made with wholesome ingredients. I can’t wait for you to start using this simple list of after school snacks to make your afternoons a piece of cake. No kids coming home from school?

These are great to keep on hand for just about anyone who eats, you and me included. Having good things prepped and ready in the fridge means that you’ll eat good food; convenience is king. All of these snacks travel well too, which makes them great for grab-and-go snacks when you are headed out the door to the library, piano lessons, therapy, or sports. I’m here to make your life simpler, and this list of easy after school snacks is going to do just that. I’m working today with the makers of HORMEL™ NATURAL CHOICE™ snacks and I’m really excited to share this post with you. Prep today, and eat well all week long

Easy After School Snacks:

  • The Veggie Box
  • Make-Ahead Snack Jars
  • The Fruit Box
  • HORMEL™ NATURAL CHOICE™ Snacks
  • No-Bake Oatmeal Bites

Easy After School Snacks for the Busy Family

  1. The Veggie Box – Have I converted you to this simple habit yet? The idea is simple – prep your veggies once a week, store them in a container in the fridge, and eat on them all week long. Anything extra at the end of the week I toss with a little olive oil and roast up for a simple dinner side. I wash, chop, and toss raw veggies in a box. That’s it! When the veggies are prepped and ready to roll, the kids eat them. Trust me on this, my kids eat more vegetables out of a veggie box than any other way. It has some kind of magic to it and you need to be making one! Looking for more info the the veggie box? I wrote a whole post about it here.

Easy After School Snacks for the Busy Family 2. Make-Ahead Snack Jars – Why are individual portions in mini jars so much fun to eat? I’ve been using these 1-cup (half pint) mason jars for years and filling with with all kinds of things. You can make snack jars that go in the fridge or the pantry. Snack jars for the fridge could have olives + pickles, homemade yogurt + jam, homemade chocolate pudding or vanilla pudding, or roasted chickpeas in them. Snack jars that go in the pantry can have nuts, candies, dried fruit, coconut chips, granola, homemade trail mix (great DIY project for the kids), and other shelf stable things in them. You can really put just about anything that you want in a little jar. The kids just love mini packaging. Plus, putting things in little jars like this helps the kids to be able to help themselves and cuts down on waste. Easy After School Snacks for the Busy Family 3. The Fruit Box – the fruit equivalent of the veggie box! I like to cut my apples into smaller pieces around the core and then use a rubber band to hold the whole apple back together. This helps keep the apple from browning, while still being conveniently pre-cut, which my kids like. I also trim and wash grapes, pineapple, and a few other things like pears or oranges. This is a great time to use seasonal fruit, so head to your farmer’s market and stock up. Easy After School Snacks for the Busy Family

4. HORMEL™ NATURAL CHOICE™ Snacks – when I shop once a week I let the kids pick out a pre-packaged snack to add to our after school snacks. It helps to keep the “blahs” out of snacking. We have been loving these snacks from Hormel Foods lately and I wanted to share them with you today. HORMEL™ NATURAL CHOICE™ snacks are single-serve snacks which include bite-sized pieces of 100% natural meat and cheese— all minimally processed, without artificial preservatives or ingredients. Plus there’s a little chocolate snack in there – who doesn’t love that? My kids love meat and cheese, and I love that these are made with no preservatives*. HORMEL™ NATURAL CHOICE™ snacks come in four varieties:

  • Oven-Roasted Turkey with mild white cheddar cheese and chocolate-covered pretzels.
  • Honey Ham with mild white cheddar cheese and chocolate-covered pretzels
  • Oven-Roasted Turkey with Pepper Jack cheese and chocolate covered blueberries
  • Over-Roasted Chicken with mild white cheddar cheese and chocolate-covered almonds

You can find HORMEL™ NATURAL CHOICE™ snacks near the lunch meat aisle. (Find a store in your area | Find out more here) Quick, easy, and delicious, you are going to love these. *No nitrates or nitrites added except for those naturally occurring in cultured celery and cherry powder.  Easy After School Snacks for the Busy Family

5. No-Bake Oatmeal Bites – This is another recipe that I have been making weekly for a long long time, and they just never get old. Made with simple things like honey, peanut butter, oats, and a few other things, I always seem to have what I need to make them in the house. They taste a whole lot like a cookie but are loaded with nutritious fats, fiber, and carbs to fuel the rest of your afternoon. We love these! You can get the recipes for these (peanut butter chocolate and I added chia seeds) plus 7 other no-bake oatmeal bite recipes in this post.

ENJOY! With a little store-bought goodness mixed in with homemade treats, you’ll have a week’s works of snacks made in less than 20 minutes! You can’t beat that. I hope this is helpful to you other busy moms out there. Happy after school snacking, from my kitchen to yours, and thank you for supporting the brands that help to make Bless this Mess possible.

Easy After School Snacks for the Busy Family

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Fruit Pizza Cookies and a Trip to the Farm!

Festive fruit pizza sugar cookies are made with super soft sour cream sugar cookies and a simple cream cheese frosting, and then piled high with seasonal fruit.

Today I’m working with Organic Valley, and I have so much to share with you! This post shares my experience visiting one of their organic dairy farms just outside of Portland, Oregon, as well as a recipe for delicious fruit pizza sugar cookies. I’m excited to share both of them with you today.

I have to start by saying that the trip to Cloud-Cap Farms was a once-in-a-lifetime trip, and I’m so grateful that I had the opportunity to go. The cool thing is, the day I visited the farm it was open to the public, so anyone could come. Organic Valley products are something I’ve used and loved for awhile now, but I knew very little about Organic Valley’s origin story and mission before going. I’m excited to share more about this really unique company with you.

Organic dairy farm tour!

Here are some Organic Valley facts that I didn’t know before (you might find them interesting, too!):

  • Organic Valley is a co-op, which means that the farms who supply the products that are sold are the owners of the business. Learn more about their impressive business model here.
  • Organic Valley puts a huge emphasis on helping small family farms work (and be successful), and I love that. Being a small business owner in a rural community has changed my life; giving that opportunity to others is a gift I think is worth sharing.
  • They have a farmer-funded grant program that supports organic research, education, and advocacy projects across the country.
  • Is organic really better for you? I think it is, and that’s why I choose to grow and produce as much of my own food as I can. That being said, I can’t produce everything I need, and I bet you are in the same boat. It was so refreshing to go and see a successful farm that cares about the health of the land and animals while still turning a profit. These folks are smart and informed, and they are making mindful decisions. You can read more about what organic is and why it is important here.
  • Organic Valley had a pretty cool start, just a group of farmers in the Midwest who were told to “get big or get out,” and they didn’t want to. You can read about their humble start here.

Organic dairy farm tour!

Friends, I feel like this trip lit a fire under me, in a good way! I’ve always had a passion for good food. I know how important it is to feed my family well (and I try to share my best tips, tricks, and recipes here so that you can feed your family well, too). Once in a while, though, I feel really discouraged with the food systems in the United States. I feel like if I don’t take charge and make/grow/raise/produce/bottle it myself, then my family shouldn’t be eating it. Organic Valley has literally renewed my hope in the future of American food production; it’s a company I’m truly proud to support.

Going out to the farm and meeting employees, farmers, and even cows was inspiring.

At the event they had all kinds of stations set up with people explaining how things worked. I visited the milking parlor (they have a “cow shower” that is essentially little sprinklers on the floor that wash the cows as they walk in, such a fun idea!), the barn (where the cows can come in from the pasture to enjoy other free-choice foods and some shade on warm afternoons), the calves (so cute), the tents set up with samples of Organic Valley products (their grass-fed cheese is amazing), the shake-and-make-your-own-butter stations, and the station for learning about pastures. They also served an organic lunch (I’m moving to the PNW just for the berries).

Organic dairy farm tour!

The guys in the picture above were at the pasture station, and it was one of my favorites. I learned SO much and I have big dreams of properly grazing our own land in the future. Steve Pierson, on the left, owns an organic dairy farm a few hours away and is part of the Organic Valley co-op. He and the owners of Cloud-Cap transitioned to organic farming from commercial in the mid 2000’s, so they had some great insight because they know both commercial and organic farming. Dr. Greg Brikner (center) is a veterinarian that travels throughout the country visiting Organic Valley’s 2000+ farms and helping farmers troubleshoot issues and checking on animals. Jake Shmitz, right, visits farms he thinks might be a good fit for Organic Valley and tells them about the co-op (that sounds like a fun job if you ask me).

Organic dairy farm tour!

Steve was so much fun to listen to, I actually sent him an email when I got home to get some more information. These men talked a lot about pasture health and how it relates to the health of the animals. They talked about organic farming as an interesting cycle: the grass, gut health of the cow, and the healthy micro-organisms that go back to the grass via the cow manure. They also talked about the health benefits of organic milk (because the animals have good gut health and have less stress), plus other exciting things like how much they have benefited from moving from commercial to the Organic Valley co-op. I might write a whole other post about how neat and sustainable organic dairy is.

The cool thing about this farm discovery day is that YOU can go to one, too. They are happening at Organic Valley farms all over the country. Check out more info here to see if there is a farm tour near you. I’d highly recommend taking the whole family for a day at the farm – you’ll love it as much as I did. Heck, I’m thinking about planning next summer’s vacation around a farm tour because I had such a great time!

Organic dairy farm tour!

Cloud-Cap Farms is a 5th generation dairy farm. Andy and Melissa Collman run the farm with Melissa’s parents, Gary and Connie Moore (Andy is pictured above). I got to interview Melissa, and she was so much fun to talk to. She’s a smart business owner who knows a thing or two about raising dairy cows; you can see our live interview here and follow Organic Valley on Facebook here.  We talked all things dairy farming, our favorite Organic Valley products, what we like to cook (spoiler alert: Melissa likes to make pie!), and more. If you have a minute, definitely take a look. Here’s a picture of on of their fields with Mount Hood in the background. Gorgeous!

Organic dairy farm tour!

In conjunction with an organic dairy farm visit, I thought my famous fruit pizza cookies recipe would be a fun one for you today.

My family loves fruit pizza sugar cookies because they are extra light, fluffy, and soft, but they also keep their shape well. A good sugar cookie recipe is always nice to have on hand for holidays and weekend treats. Enjoy these with a glass of Organic Valley milk, and you’ll really be in cookie heaven.

Festive fruit pizza cookies are made with super soft sour cream sugar cookies & a simple cream cheese frosting, & then piled high with seasonal fruit.

Tips and Tricks for making Fruit Pizza Cookies

  • You can’t skip chilling the dough. This is a must-do to get the cookies to roll out well and keep their shape. The great part is that you can chill them for 4 to 36 hours. It’s super easy to get these cookies to work with your schedule.
  • The secret to their super soft texture is Organic Valley sour cream.  Don’t use reduced fat or fat-free products here, though – full fat is best.
  • I love this set of stainless steel biscuit/cookie cutters and used them for this recipe.
  • You can use just about any fruit that you’d like on top. Strawberries and cherries in the spring, berries all summer long, and orange segments and pomegranate bits in the winter. Use what you like and what is in season.

Craving more? Subscribe to Bless this Mess to get new recipes, meal plans, and a newsletter delivered straight to your inbox! If you try this recipe, let me know what you think! Leave a comment, pin it, and don’t forget to tag a picture #blessthismesseats on Instagram. I love to see your kitchen skills in action!

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Fruit Pizza Cookies and a Trip to the Farm!

Festive fruit pizza cookies are made with super soft sour cream sugar cookies and a simple cream cheese frosting, and then piled high with seasonal fruit.

  • Author:
  • Prep Time: 4 hr, 15 min
  • Cook Time: 10 min
  • Total Time: 6 minute
  • Yield: 2 dozen cookies

Ingredients

For the Cookies

For the Frosting

Instructions

  1. In a large bowl, cream the butter and sugar together until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes. You can use a stand mixer, an electric hand mixer, or a fork and some elbow grease to do this. It’s up to you.
  2. Add the egg and vanilla and stir until very smooth.
  3. Add the sour cream and stir until combined.
  4. Add the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt and stir until well-combined. The dough will be sticky.
  5. Place the dough on a piece of plastic wrap, shape into a disk, wrap well, and refrigerate for at least 4 hours and up to 36 hours.
  6. When you are ready to bake the dough, remove it from the fridge, unwrap, and divide it into 2 pieces. Roll the dough out to 1/2 inch thick on a well-floured surface and cut into shapes (I used a 3-inch circle cookie cutter). Place the cut out cookies on a parchment- or baking-mat-lined cookie sheet and bake at 350 degrees for 10-11 minutes. The tops of the cookies will be light, but the bottom should be lightly brown.
  7. Repeat with remaining dough.
  8. To make the frosting, add the butter, cream cheese, vanilla, 1 tablespoon of cream, and the dash of salt to a large bowl and beat until fluffy, about a minute (a stand or hand mixer works well for this). Add the powdered sugar and beat until smooth and fluffy. If the frosting is too thick, add the additional tablespoon of cream or milk and beat again.
  9. When the cookies are completely cooled, add a generous helping of frosting and top with seasonal fruit that has been cut into bite-sized pieces.

Festive fruit pizza cookies are made with super soft sour cream sugar cookies & a simple cream cheese frosting, & then piled high with seasonal fruit.

So delicious! I can’t wait for you to make a batch of these.

Thank you for enjoying a recap of my trip to Organic Valley and Cloud-Cap Farms, and these fun and simple fruit pizza cookies. It was a pleasure to write about them both. Organic Valley is really fun to follow on Instagram if you are interested in cute animal/farm pictures, FYI.

PS. Wondering where you can get some delicious Organic Valley products of your own? To find Organic Valley products at a store near you, use their product locator tool: http://ov.coop/findov

Fruit Pizza Cookies

This is a sponsored post written by me on behalf of Organic Valley. Thank you for supporting the brands that I truly love and that help make Bless this Mess possible. The opinions and text are all mine.

Quick Pickled Cucumbers – Refrigerator Pickles

Quick and easy pickled cucumbers with onion made in the refrigerator; our favorite way to use summer cucumbers!

Having a huge garden is awesome when the tilling, planting, weeding, watering, weeding, and more weeding start to mean gobs of fresh vegetables for me to use. It seems like such a labor of love for months and then all of the sudden you are rewarded for your hard work. That reward is beginning for me and I couldn’t be more excited. I’m currently harvesting green beans by the gallon, basil, zucchini, yellow summer squash, and cucumbers. I’m just chomping at the bit for tomatoes, peppers, and sweet corn to ripen.

Here’s what we had for dinner last night: sautéed yellow squash, green beans, corn on the cob, cantaloupe, quick pickled cucumbers, homemade whole wheat clover rolls, and smoked sausage. It was heaven I tell you. Heaven! Summer on a plate indeed. I was looking at the meal and thinking that my grandma would have been proud; it looked like a meal she would have served this time of year to her big family of boys from her gigantic garden.

Thinking about my grandma makes me happy. She is a wonderful woman who raised 13 kids (11 of whom were boys!) and I grew up just down the road from her farm in Southern Indiana. This recipe for quick pickled cucumbers, or refrigerator pickles as we call them, is from her. It’s super easy and tastes just like summer should. Have you ever had this kind of thing? You basically make a quick brine and add what you want to it. My mom always just did cucumber but grandma would add just about anything from the garden – onions, bell peppers, whole cherry tomatoes. Add what you think you’d like pickled. Easy and delicious. Sometimes I think there’s no need to dress up garden veggies with more than a bit of vinegar and water. Enjoy!

Quick and easy pickled cucumbers with onion made in the refrigerator; our favorite way to use summer cucumbers!

Tips and tricks for making quick pickled cucumbers

  • White vinegar is the traditional vinegar for this recipe and a great place to start. If you know that you like apple cider or rice wine vinegar they are also good.
  • These are delicious on our favorite pulled pork sandwiches (made easy in the slow cooker!), as a side for everything summer, and to eat for a snack. You can’t go wrong with this simple dish all summer long.
  • Want to add a little spicy? Toss in a jalapeno cut in half (delicious!).
  • I love these glass containers with lids to have things like this in my fridge. I also use a mason jar and one of these reusable lids really often.

Quick and easy pickled cucumbers with onion made in the refrigerator; our favorite way to use summer cucumbers!

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Quick Pickled Cucumbers – Refrigerator Pickles

5 from 7 reviews

Quick and easy pickled cucumbers with onion made in the refrigerator; our favorite way to use summer cucumbers!

  • Author:
  • Prep Time: 5 min
  • Total Time: 5 min

Ingredients

  • 1 cup water
  • 1/3 cup vinegar (apple cider, white, and rice wine are all good)
  • 1/3 cup sugar (optional)
  • 1 to 2 teaspoons salt
  • sliced garden cucumbers (about 2 cups)
  • sliced onion or green onion (about 1/2 cup)
  • additional vegetables as you like (bell pepper, whole cherry tomatoes, etc.)

Instructions

  1. In a small bowl add the water, vinegar, sugar, and salt. Stir to combine and until the sugar and salt have dissolved. Add the cucumber and onion. Taste and adjust the ingredients to your liking.
  2. All the cucumbers should be covered in the brine, if you have lots of cucumber or are making a big batch, make more brine.
  3. Let the mixture rest in the fridge until you are ready to eat. The flavors develop over time, so an overnight soak is great but mine are normally gone by dinner.

Notes

I love adding the sugar and my mom does too, but my grandma doesn’t add that much (she only adds a few teaspoons). I say try it and see what you like.

White vinegar is the traditional vinegar for this recipe and a great place to start. If you know that you like apple cider or rice wine vinegar they are also good.

You really can’t mess this up. Just adjust to taste and enjoy!

refrigerator pickles that are quick and easy

 

Aren’t my baby onions cute?! They were the first I pulled and they are tiny… I think I’ll wait another month or two before I pick any more so they aren’t quiet so itty-bitty.

Enjoy the bounty of the summer and thanks for reading.

This recipe was first published in August 2013 and was rewritten and updated in July 2017. It’s still a favorite in this house!

The Best Chocolate Chip Granola Bar Recipe

The best and easiest chocolate chip granola bar recipe ever, and the best part – it includes peanut butter too!

Fast, easy, kid-friendly snacks are the name of the game when it comes to summer-eating in our house and this peanut butter chocolate chip granola bar recipe is one of our favorites. It’s super simple to make, the kids love them, they travel and store well, and I normally have everything on hand to make them.

We love these whole grain sweet treats for easy snacks to take the to pool, on trips to the park, and to share with friends while all of the neighborhood kids are jumping on the trampoline. You just can’t beat that classic chocolate and peanut butter combination. Everyone loves these!

The best and easiest chocolate chip granola bar recipe ever, and the best part it includes peanut butter too!

Tips and Tricks to making this Chocolate Chip Granola Bar Recipe

  • How long you let the sugar/honey mixture cook will determine how sticky or hard your granola bars are. I like mine to come to a nice bubble for 30 seconds to 1 minute. This makes a granola bar recipe that sticks together but is still “chewy”. If you let the mixture boil for 2 minutes you’ll get a crunchier granola bar (be sure to stir while the mixture cooks).
  • You can easily double this recipe and put it in a 9×13 inch dish if you need lots of granola bars in your life. They keep well and last even longer in the fridge.
  • I love making these on my meal prep day to have on hand all week long.
  • You can cut these into different shapes which make them fun to pack in lunches (I have these mini metal cookies cutters that we love to use for these and other lunch box fun).
  • Food allergies? I’m sure that coconut oil and dairy-free chocolate chips would work for this recipe if you are dairy free. Gluten-free oats will also work great (make sure you get allergen-friendly chocolate chips too).
  • Love granola bars? Here are 8 more recipes for homemade granola bars, all in one place!

The best and easiest chocolate chip granola bar recipe ever, and the best part it includes peanut butter too!

Craving more? Subscribe to Bless this Mess to get new recipes, meal plans, and a newsletter delivered straight to your inbox! If you try this recipe, let me know what you think! Leave a comment, pin it, and don’t forget to tag a picture #blessthismesseats on Instagram. I love to see your kitchen skills in action!

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The Best Chocolate Chip Granola Bar Recipe

  • Author:
  • Prep Time: 15 mins
  • Total Time: 15 mins
  • Yield: 12 to 16 bars

Ingredients

Ingredients

  • 2 1/2 cups old-fashioned rolled oats
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 1/4 cup unsalted butter
  • 1/3 cup brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/2 cup creamy peanut butter
  • 1/2 cup roasted, salted peanuts
  • 1/4 cup mini chocolate chips

Instructions

  • Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Line a 9-inch square baking dish with parchment or foil and lightly spray with cooking spray.
  • Place the oats on a rimmed baking sheet and bake for 8-10 minutes until lightly toasted.
  • While the oats are toasting, add the honey, butter, and brown sugar to a small saucepan. Cook over medium heat until the butter melts and the sugar dissolves, stirring occasionally. Let the mixture come to a light bubble for 1 minute while stirring. When butter mixture is ready, remove it from the heat and stir in the vanilla, salt, and peanut butter.
  • Add the toasted oats and the peanuts to a large bowl. Pour the honey mixture over the oat and nut mixture and stir to combine. Stir to combine. Make sure none of the oats are dry.
  • Place all of the oat mixture in the prepared pan. Use a rubber spatula or the bottom of a greased measuring cup to press the mixture into the pan.
  • Let this cool for about 10 minutes before sprinkling the mini chocolate chips over the top. Press the chocolate chips into the granola bars with the bottom of a measuring cup.
  • Chill the granola bars for at least 2 hours. Lift the bars from the pan using the edges of the foil or parchment and place them on a cutting board. Cut into desired shape and size and serve.

Notes

These store very well in the fridge or freezer. You may want to wrap them in a bit of parchment paper before putting them in a container or plastic bag in the fridge so that they don’t stick together.

Carry on summer mama warriors! It’s not always sunshine and roses but you’ve got this. Chocolate chip granola bars will help!

The best and easiest chocolate chip granola bar recipe ever, and the best part it includes peanut butter too!

9 DIY Trail Mix Everyone Will Love

Make a DIY Trail Mix station for your kids to create their own trail mix combinations to snack on all summer long.

Make a DIY Trail Mix station for your kids to create their own trail mix combinations to snack on all summer long.

Summer is almost here and I can feel it in my bones! The chicks are almost ready to be outside on their own (I still turn a heater on and off for them every night), the kids only have a few days left of school (wahoo! this mama lives for summer with her babies home), and the garden is 80% planted (only tomatoes, peppers, another row of pumpkins and green beans left to put in).

When the kids are out of school, we fall into a pretty great summer routine. We normally have slow mornings of breakfast and puttering through their chores. We then tend to the garden and the animals before it get too hot. The kids like to play the rest of the morning and then we have lunch. Most early afternoons we’ll go to the pool, the creek, or to our favorite swimming hole in Zion to be outside but stay cool. In the late afternoon we have quiet time, and then it’s already time for dinner and baths.

One thing that I notice in the summer though is how often my kids want to snack. It must be all the sunshine, water, and fresh air, because my crew seems to be hungry all of the time. I love setting up a DIY trail mix bar for my kids every so often so that they can make themselves some custom trail mix to munch on when they want. A trail mix bar like this would also be fun at a party as a make-and-take for guests or to set up with friends before a day of hiking. My kids love being in charge of what goes in their trail mix and I’m always surprised at what they pick (the M&M’s are always the favorite, but they love trying different nuts and dried fruit too).

Make a DIY Trail Mix station for your kids

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Here are some ideas of what to add to your trail mix party:

Dried Fruit.

We love dried pineapple, blueberries, cherries, persimmons, apricots, cranberries, and peaches. You could also include dried apples, dates, raisins and banana chips.

Nuts and Seeds.

You can use just about any kind that you like/want/have. We like salted roasted almonds, honey roasted almonds, pecans, cashews, and peanuts. I also like to include sunflower seeds and hulled pumpkin seeds (pepitas).

Candies/Chocolate.

You can include all kinds of chocolate chips (dark, milk, white, or even peanut butter chips), M&M’s of any variety, chocolate covered raisins, and even candy-coated sunflower seeds. Include what you like!

Other stuff.

Shredded coconut or coconut chips and animal crackers are also great.

Tips and Tricks

  • I have found the best prices for dried fruit from Costco, Trader Joe’s, or in the bulk bins from the health food store.
  • If the crackers were stored very long with the other trail mix ingredients, they tended to get a little soft. My kids did not mind but I don’t like non-crunchy crackers.
  • Be warned, if adding chocolate, you need to plan on keeping bags of trail mix in a cooler if you are hiking on a hot day. If you are just munching on it around the house, the chocolate won’t melt too easily.
  • I like to add all of my ingredients to a muffin tin so that the kids can easily see all of their options. Then I hand them a baggie and let them fill it up with what they like. I do encourage them to try at least one fruit and one nut, and not just fill up on the chocolate. Even my pickiest eater will eat cashews, peanuts, dried pineapple, and the chocolate.
  • You can use plastic baggies. Zipper-top sandwich size seem to work best – they don’t fill them totally full, but the bigger baggie lets them stick their hand in without spilling the trail mix all over like it does in a snack-size bag. Or, you can get reusable baggies like these.
  • Premade trail mix is a great addition to any of these fun (sandwich-free) lunch box ideas too. They are great if you are packing lunch for yourself, the kids at home, or the kids going to day camp.
  • I had my kids mark their name on a few baggies and then fill them. Then I kept all the baggies in a basket in the cabinet for them. Instead of trying to put all of the odds and ends of the leftover fruit, nuts, and chocolate in the bags they came from, I just dumped all of the remaining and unused trail mix ingredients into a gallon zipper topped bag. This is trail mix for Thomas and I!

Some of our favorite Trail Mix Combos

Trail Mix - Dried cherries, honey roasted almonds, milk chocolate chips, cashews, and animal crackers.

Dried cherries, honey roasted almonds, milk chocolate chips, cashews, and animal crackers.

Trail Mix - Peanuts, salted almonds, dried cranberries, milk, semi-sweet, white, AND peanut butter chips.

Peanuts, salted almonds, dried cranberries, milk, semi-sweet, white, AND peanut butter chips.

Trail Mix - Dried cherries, dried blueberries, dried apricots, cashews, pecans, dark chocolate chips, and candy-coated sunflower seeds.

Dried cherries, dried blueberries, dried apricots, cashews, pecans, dark chocolate chips, and candy-coated sunflower seeds.

Trail Mix - Dried persimmon (Aren't they pretty? Very chewy, FYI), honey roasted and salted almonds, pumpkin seeds, peanut butter chips, and candy-coated sunflower seeds.

Dried persimmon (Aren’t they pretty? Very chewy, FYI), honey roasted and salted almonds, pumpkin seeds, peanut butter chips, and candy-coated sunflower seeds.

Trail Mix - Dried white peaches, honey roasted almonds, pecans, sunflower seeds, and candy-coated sunflower seeds.

Dried white peaches, honey roasted almonds, pecans, sunflower seeds, and candy-coated sunflower seeds.

Trail Mix -Dried pineapple, white peaches, blueberries and cranberries, walnuts, sunflower seeds, animal crackers, chocolate-covered raisins, M&M's, and milk chocolate chips.

Dried pineapple, white peaches, blueberries and cranberries, walnuts, sunflower seeds, animal crackers, chocolate-covered raisins, M&M’s, and milk chocolate chips.

Trail Mix - Dried pineapple and apricots, salted almonds, cashews, white chocolate chip, pumpkin seeds, and coconut chips (my personal favorite!).

Dried pineapple and apricots, salted almonds, cashews, white chocolate chip, pumpkin seeds, and coconut chips (my personal favorite!).

Trail Mix - Dried blueberries, salted almonds, pecans, pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds, and white chocolate chips.

Dried blueberries, salted almonds, pecans, pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds, and white chocolate chips.

Trail Mix - Honey roasted almonds, pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds, M&M's, and dark chocolate chips.

Honey roasted almonds, pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds, M&M’s, and dark chocolate chips.

9 Trail Mix Combinations

The possibilities are pretty endless with it comes to the number of trail mix options that you can make!

9 Trail Mix

I hope you’ll set up a little trail mix station for your kids/family/party this summer and enjoy how fun and simple it is to make some simple snacks with your kids and family!

And do tell, what do you think your favorite combination will be?

If are you are looking for a few other simple snack recipes I recommend my super easy (super tasty) oatmeal snack bites, make ahead snacks in a jar, or date balls. Prep some of these early in the week and enjoy them all week long!

9 Trail Mix Combinations