As a mom, there’s not much I wouldn’t do to keep my kids safe and healthy. That just kind of comes built-in when you become a mom, right? God’s design for a mother, I suppose. But as a control freak, I’ve had to come to terms with the fact that some things are out of my hands. Try as I might, I can’t be all-protecting, all the time. This became shockingly clear this past summer during a trip to King’s Island.
In case you aren’t familiar, King’s Island is an amusement park with rides that is packed with people during the warm months. We live close enough that we can plan our trips during the slowest times, but there’s still always a lot of people and lines to get on rides. As we were standing in one such line waiting for our turn on some kiddie ride, I watched my son Luke, an impatient 3-year-old, jumping up and down, hands on the bar the kept us all in a straight line, his head bobbing up and down like his legs were on springs. Then he did something that made me question ever letting a toddler be more than arm’s reach away in such a busy place.
He licked the bar.
Yes, he licked it.
I’m really not a germophobe, but I thought I was going to die. It’s like a could taste the dirt and germs in my own mouth and I pictured him getting sick immediately. I tried to explain to him, not for the first time, why putting our mouth on something other than our own utensils was a terrible idea, but his eyes glossed over and he looked ahead to the ride we were awaiting. Maybe he built his immunity a little that day by exposing his body to more germs, but I’m much more comfortable building immunity through food. I developed this recipe with my family’s immune systems in mind. I wanted to create a breakfast bar that was full of nutrients that are known to build up our immune systems. I’ll touch on them a little here, but check out this post I wrote about foods and nutrients that boost your immune system back in 2011. Lots of good information there and it will definitely help as you plan what foods to feed your family!
VITAMIN C: Increases the production of those infection-fighting white cells AND increases levels of an antibody (interferon) that coats cell’s surfaces and prevents the entry of viruses. Ingredients in this recipe with Vitamin C: chickpeas, pumpkin
CAROTENOIDS: Increase the number of infection-fighting cells, natural killer cells, and helper T cells, all which strengthen the immune system’s fighting power. They also convert to immune-boosting Vitamin A in our body. Ingredients in this recipe with carotenoids: pumpkin
SELENIUM: This is a mineral that increases natural killer cells, which kill virus-infected cells. Ingredients in this recipe with selenium: oats, maple syrup, chickpeas, almonds
VITAMIN E: Enhances the production of B-cells. These are the immune cells that produce antibodies that destroy bacteria.Ingredients in this recipe with Vitamin E: pumpkin, almonds, chickpeas
ZINC: Increases the production of white blood cells. White blood cells fight infection and help us fight more aggressively. Ingredients in this recipe with zinc: pumpkin seeds, chickpeas, maple syrup, almonds
VITAMIN B6: A deficiency in Vitamin B6 causes a suppressed immune response. Ingredients in this recipe with Vitamin B6: almonds, chickpeas
BETA-GLUCAN: A type of fiber with antimicrobal and antioxidant capabilities, which boosts immunity. Ingredients in this recipe with beta-glucan: oats
Meghan and Luke both liked these, but while Meghan ate them without batting an eye at the toppings, Luke wanted me to take off all of the seeds and oats before he’d eat them. He’s a typical toddler. If you have a similar eater, I’d recommend leaving the toppings off, too. Also, I list some optional mix-ins in the recipe. The kids definitely like these better with the dark chocolate chips, and dark chocolate does have immune-boosting properties. As a mom, I prefer these with less sugar. But feel free to add in the dark chocolate chips as it’s a delicious option!
Immunity-Boosting Breakfast Bars
Makes 16 bars
Prep time: 10 minutes
Cook time: 15 minutes
Total Time: 25 minutes
1 can (15 ounces) chickpeas, drained and rinsed
1/2 cup dates
1/2 cup whole almonds
1 cup rolled oats
1/2 cup pumpkin puree
1/4 cup maple syrup
2 tablespoons coconut oil
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
2 teaspoons baking powder
2 teaspoons vanilla
1 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon
optional add-ins: dark chocolate chips, raisins, chopped walnuts
1/4 cup rolled oats
1/4 cup pumpkin seeds (pepitas)
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Line an 8X8 inch pan with parchment paper, leaving a little overhang.
Put all ingredients in a food processor and process until very well combined. Scrape the sides of the machine down a few times and let the machine run until the mixture is quite smooth. Add any add-ins you prefer.
Transfer the mixture to the prepared pan and add the toppings. Bake in the preheated oven for 15 minutes. I much prefer these served warm, but Luke enjoyed them cold, too. They are best if eaten within 2-3 days. Store in the refrigerator. Enjoy!