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  • Writer's pictureAmy Slater

Flourless Chocolate Zucchini Bars (nut and dairy free)

Are grain-free options healthier than whole grains for kids?

Going gluten-free has been called a fad, unsafe, and unnecessary effort unless you have been diagnosed with specific gluten intolerance, celiac disease, or allergy. People with non-celiac gluten sensitivity do not have damage to their intestinal lining. Still, they experience headaches, bloating, fatigue, or diarrhea after eating foods containing gluten. As a result, they believe that a gluten-free diet improves their quality of life.

According to Dr. Sarah Balantyne, “Gluten is not a nutrient. It is very difficult to digest protein found in wheat, rye, and barley which causes health issues for many people. Going gluten-free does not mean that you are cutting a vital nutrient out of your diet. And a gluten-free diet is not inherently unhealthy. But going gluten-free doesn’t automatically mean that you are eating a more nutrient-dense diet either. It matters what you replace those wheat-based bagels and pasta with. It’s not about what you’re not eating. It’s about what you do eat.”

Another interesting benefit of going gluten-free is that you steer clear of packaged grain-heavy snacks like pretzels, crackers, and cookies. There are a lot more nutrients in nuts, seeds, fresh fruits, and vegetables! This is very important for kids who tend to snack between meals. If they fill up on nutrient-void snacks, they will miss the opportunity to meet their nutrient needs for the day.

Making your own snacks:

Making your own grain-free snacks are a GREAT option! Here you can avoid the high prices of store-bought gluten-free snacks that are often void of nutrients. You can control ingredient quality and adjust sweeteners to meet your child’s needs.


1 cup sunflower seed butter (unsweetened) 1/4 cup maple syrup 1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder (I found mine at Trader Joe’s) 1/2 tsp salt 3 large eggs 1 tsp vanilla extract 1 tsp baking soda 2 cups shredded zucchini 1/2 cup sunflower seeds (optional)

Putting It All Together:

  1. Preheat the oven to 350F. Line a rectangular 15×10 inch glass baking dish with parchment paper.

  2. In a large bowl, combine all ingredients except the zucchini. Stir well to combine. Then fold in the zucchini and sunflower seeds, if used.

  3. Pour the batter into your prepared pan and pop it into the oven. Bake at 350F for about 25-30 min. Do not overtake.

  4. Remove from the oven and allow it to cool thoroughly. Cut into squares and enjoy or store tightly sealed in the refrigerator for up to 5 days. You can also freeze the individual squares on a baking sheet and store them in a ziplock bag for up to 3 months!

Nutrition Facts for 15 servings: (with the sunflower seeds)

Calories: 175 Total Fat: 12.1 grams Total Carbohydrate: 8.7 grams Total Protein: 6.5 grams Fiber: 2.5 grams Sugar: 4.2 grams


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