Back to School? Pack Andrea’s Healthy Bars

School is back in session and it’s time to pack kids healthy lunches. Packing a healthy lunch that your kids will eat can be a challenge.

I have one kid who refuses to eat at school; he finds eating there ‘gross.’ I think this is his first act of civil disobedience. He will eat a nice breakfast but I don’t want him to feel hungry during the latter part of the day. He wanted something like a Cliff bar, but those can get costly. Finally we found something to make that provides a healthy, energizing snack that he found delightful.

While researching healthy cookies I came across a recipe from 101 cookbooks. I liked the way the recipe sounded, but I wanted more of a bar, like the commercial oat bars that are included in many lunch bags. I tweaked the recipe to suit what I wanted and had great success! The bars are delicious! My coconut hating husband even loves them! Without the flour, eggs, or any dairy, these bars are great for people with restrictive diets.

Have fun experimenting and create your own health bar. I think dried fruits would work wonderfully, as would different nuts.



  • 6 large, ripe bananas, well mashed (about 3 cups – I have also used plums and apples)
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup coconut oil, barely warm – so it isn’t solid
  • 4 cups rolled oats
  • 2/3 cup almonds, chopped
  • 2/3 cup coconut, use unsweetened
  • 1/3 cup wheat germ
  • 1/3 cup flax meal
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon fine grain sea salt
  • 2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 cup carob chips or dark chocolate bar, chopped

Preheat oven to 350 degrees, with oven racks in the top third.

In a large bowl, combine the bananas, vanilla extract, and coconut oil. Set aside. In another bowl, whisk together the oats, almonds, wheat germ, flax, shredded coconut, cinnamon, salt, and baking powder. Add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients and stir until combined. Fold in the chocolate chunks/chips. Spread the dough in an oiled brownie pan. Bake for about 20 minutes, or until golden brown on top. Cool and cut into bars.

Editor’s note: This a best-of column that was originally published Sept. 1, 2011. 

Andrea Charroin is a teacher who is also a trained baker and was a pastry chef in San Francisco before she and her family moved to Redding. After falling in love with Redding’s downtown, Andrea and husband Westley opened a little pastry shop, Rene-Joule Patisserie, across from the Cascade Theatre. For the three years Rene-Joule was in business, it was renowned for making everything from scratch, using the best ingredients and keeping with a seasonal menu. To this day, Andrea is asked about her Marathon Bars, Orange Twists and sourdough bread.

Andrea Charroin

Andrea Charroin is a trained baker and pastry chef. She worked in San Francisco before she, her husband, Westley, and their two sons moved to Redding. They fell in love with Redding’s downtown and opened a little pastry shop, Rene-Joule Patisserie.

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