Z-bars are a favorite snack around here, but at the rate our kids eat them, they can get pricey. We started making these homemade z-bars, lovingly called "G-bars" to keep our grocery bill down, but also to add a little more nutrition and staying power to snack time.
With 8 grams of protein 5 grams of fiber and 12 grams of healthy fat per bar, these chocolate chip oatmeal and peanut butter "G-bars" will keep your little snackers full for longer. Plus, they'll save you hundreds of dollars over the long run if, like us, you easily spend 10-12 bucks on two boxes each week.
Why we love these homemade Z-bars
Our kids really do best eating 3 meals a day with 2-3 snacks in between. It's amazing how many behavior problems can be prevented and settled with a good snack. But with all that eating, comes a lot of decision making fatigue for us. Deciding what to offer our kids every time snack time comes around is tiring.
That's why we love to make a big batch of some sort of bar, or muffin, or energy ball each week to offer for at least one snack of the day. These homemade Z-bars fit that bill perfectly, plus they're easy to bring on-the-go, stored in a sealed container.
On top of that, all three of our kids love them, and can hold them on their own without making a mess (well, for the most part).
Each bar has enough nutrition to be a stand-alone item at snack time for most younger kids. Compared to store-bought z-bars, they have 6 more grams protein, 3 more grams fiber from whole grains, 90 more calories, and 10 more grams healthy fat for staying power. All things our little guys need to grow and thrive!
Healthy Swaps For Kids
When it comes to increasing my kiddo's nutrition and making "healthy swaps," I tend to focus on what I can add to their meal or to a recipe instead of trying to reduce calories, sugar, etc.
By emphasizing nutrient-rich foods and a balance of all macronutrients, our kids will naturally get what their bodies needs.
In these home-made z-bars we added natural peanut butter, rolled oats, whole wheat flour, whole milk, and local raw honey.
You could also switch it up and use maple syrup in place of honey or almond butter in place of peanut butter. Alternatively, you could use half cup pumpkin puree and half cup peanut butter in lieu of the whole cup of peanut butter.
I also love to add coconut flakes and a few TBSPs of dried flax seed from time to time to give these bars some additional nutrition.
The beauty of these bars is they are super flexible, you can really make them what you want them to be!
How To Make These Homemade Z-Bars
Step 1: Mix together the wet ingredients
In a medium bowl or stand mixer, mix together 2 cups of rolled oats, 2 cups of whole milk (or whatever milk you prefer), 1 cup smooth peanut butter, ½ cup honey, 1 egg, and 1 teaspoon vanilla. Mix on medium low speed until combined.
Bonus points if you can get yourself an adorable sous chef 😉
Step 2: Mix dry ingredients
In a separate bowl, mix together 2 cups whole wheat flour, 1 teaspoon salt, and 1 teaspoon baking powder. If you prefer your bars flatter like the original Z-barks you can omit the baking powder completely! We like to let ours rise a little and get a soft and fluffy, so we keep the baking powder.
Step 3: Combine wet and dry and chocolate chips
Pour the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients and combine. Add in 1 cup mini chocolate chips and mix on medium high just until combined. Scrape down the sides of the bowl to incorporate any flour that's missing, and then your batter will be good to go!
Step 4: Spread the batter in the baking dish and cook
Preheat the oven to 350 F. Line a 9 X 13 inch baking dish with parchment paper. Pour the batter into the prepared baking dish, scraping the sides to get all of that goodness out. Use your spatula to spread the batter out in one even layer in the baking dish. Place in the oven and cook for 18 minutes.
Step 5: Let cool and cut into strips.
Once done cooking, let the Z-bar "cake" cool for 10 - 15 minutes. After it's cooled, cut into 18 equal strips. Remove the strips and store in a sealed container in the fridge for up to a week. You can serve them cold or reheated in the microwave for 10 seconds, whichever your kids prefer!
Voila! You just made a big portion of your kids snacks for the entire week. Pat yourself on the back and put that 12 bucks towards some adult food, or a new book, or heck, a savings account!
If you make these, definitely let us know in the comments below. We'd love to hear how you tweak them to fit your own family's taste buds! Remember, if you found this post helpful, spread the joy by sharing this post! Let's do family differently together!
- 2 cups rolleds oats
- 2 cups whole milk
- 1 cup smooth peanut butter
- ½ cup honey
- 1 egg
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
- 2 cups whole wheat flour
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 1 cup mini chocolate chips
- Preheat ove to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
- Mix together oats, milk, peanut butter, honey, egg and vanilla in a medium bowl or stand mixer.
- In a separate bowl, mix together flour, salt, and baking powder.
- Pour dry ingredients into wet ingredients and mix to combine.
- Mix in mini chocolate chips until combined.
- Line 9X13 inch baking pan with parchment paper.
- Spread batter in one even layer in pan with spatula
- Cook for 18 minutes and let cool.
- Once cool, cut into 18 equal strips, store in sealed container in fridge for 5-7 days.