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Is it too early to start talking about lunchbox snacks? Probably. But with less than one week to go until the new school year begins, I thought it was time to get some healthy snacks on the radar.

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What actually prompted this post was a visit to the beach in the incredibly cold, wet weather we had the other weekend. In the rush to get there, I had accidently left my rain jacket at home and found myself ordering a coffee inside a café instead of enjoying a brisk walk in the chill wind. During the inevitable wait I did what I love to do; stand and drool over the contents of the cake cabinet. In there I spied a couple of ‘raw’ slices; raw fruit and seed slice and raw brownie slice, too.

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Café food often inspires me to try similar things at home, and so this recipe for chewy fruit and seed slice was brought out of the dark where it had been languishing since last year. I had tried the recipe once or twice, and while it was good, it wasn’t ‘perfect’ and had been discarded whilst I experimented with other goodies. Here it is again now, having been tweaked to my satisfaction, and if the speed of consumption is any indicator, it’s a serious contender for favourite lunchbox snack around here!

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As the title suggests, it’s chockfull of fruit and seeds; but what I love most about this recipe is its flexibility. Whilst I’ve written it up here as per the original, there are so many ways that it could be adjusted to suit your particular tastes or preferences, food allergies or intolerances. For instance, coconut oil could be substituted for butter, maple syrup for honey, tahini for peanut butter, brown rice flour for wheat flour, and any type of dried fruit for raisins – the only limit is your imagination!

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Chewy Fruit and Seed Slice {gluten-free, and very, very addictive}
I left out the mixed peel, as I don’t like the taste of it, and you wouldn’t know it was missing. The orange zest lends a strong-enough citrus flavour all on its own.

Makes 24 pieces

Ingredients
150g (2/3 cup) unsalted butter or coconut oil
175g (½ cup) golden syrup or honey
125g (½ cup) crunchy peanut butter
2 teaspoons natural vanilla extract
30g (¼ cup) plain (all-purpose flour) (I used brown rice flour)
30g (1/3 cup) ground almonds (almond meal)
½ teaspoon mixed (pumpkin pie) spice
300g (3 cups) quick-cooking oats (I used gluten-free oats)
2 teaspoons finely grated orange zest
185g (1 cup) soft brown sugar
45g (½ cup) desiccated coconut
50g (1/3 cup) sesame seeds, toasted
90g (½ cup) pepitas (pumpkin seeds) or shelled sunflower seeds
80g (½ cup) raisins, roughly chopped (I used dried cranberries)
45g (¼ cup) mixed peel (mixed candied citrus peel) (optional)

Method
Preheat oven to 160degC (320F). Lightly grease a 20 x 30 cm (8 x 12 inch) baking tin and line with baking paper, leaving it hanging over the two long sides.

Put the butter or coconut oil and honey (golden syrup) in a heavy based saucepan over low heat, stirring until melted. Remove from heat and stir in the peanut butter and vanilla extract until combined.

Mix together the remaining ingredients, stirring well. Make a well in the centre and add the butter/oil and syrup mixture. Mix with a large metal spoon until combined.

Press evenly into the tin and bake for 30-40 minutes (check after 30), or until golden and firm. Cool in the tin, then cut into squares.

Note: Store in an airtight container for up to 5 days.

Remember this slice contains nuts, so if you have a nut free policy at your school keep it strictly for munching on at home.

Adapted from Family Circle’s “Baking – a commonsense guide” – published by Murdoch Press

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