5 Tips to Keep Your Child Healthier This School Year

Health & Wellness

We’re back to school, and parents might already be experiencing what I call the “back-to-school plague” where your child has picked up a cough, some extra sniffles, or maybe even conjunctivitis (a.k.a. pink eye) like we recently experienced with our preschooler. With all the exposure to new people, places, and germs, our kids’ little immune systems take quite the beating the first few weeks of school!

While it may seem inevitable that your child will get sick the first few weeks of school, there are proven ways to help combat the “plague!” I shared five tips to keep your child healthy this school year on KTLA Morning News with Anchor Lu Parker – watch below!

Here are the 5 products I featured on KTLA Morning News about keeping kids healthy this school year:

1. Teach proper hand washing with SoaPen

SoaPen is a hand soap pen for kids (that easily fits into a backpack or lunchbox) that encourages kids to wash their hands by coloring all over them! How genius is that?! When SoaPen co-founders learned that 50% of infectious diseases that lead to fatalities among kids under 5 can be avoided by the simple act of washing hands with soap, the duo sprung into action to create a solution. Simply have your children use the SoaPen to color red, blue or green all over their hands to apply the soap. I love this, because kids can easily see where they’re placing the soap and if they’ve missed a spot. The color takes at least 30 seconds to wash off, so it’s the perfect tool to help kids create proper hand washing habits. Don’t worry – the color won’t stain clothes! You can find SoaPen in a 3-pack on Amazon here.

2. Stay healthy and hydrated on-the-go with LARQ PureVis Water Bottle

Drinking enough water helps prevent infections, delivers nutrients to cells, and boosts brain function – just a few of the many important reasons for your little one to stay hydrated! But, have you ever been concerned about the quality of water your child is drinking? Look no further than LARQ PureVis water bottle, which is the world’s first self-cleaning water bottle and purification system! You no longer have to worry about what’s in the water your child is drinking when they’re filling up their bottle from the hallway water fountain. Every LARQ Bottle utilizes PureVisTM purification technology to eradicate up to 99.9999% of bacteria, viruses and protozoa. Proprietary UV-C LED technology uses 270-275 nanometer of UV-C light to neutralize germs, triggering a photochemical reaction that destroys their DNA. Powerful PureVis™ technology activates at the touch of a button and cleans water in 60 seconds. The water bottle also self cleans every 2 hours to eliminate harmful bacteria such as E. Coli. This means no more stinky bottles! I hate when my other reusable water bottles get funky. I’ll clean them over and over again, and they still easily get yucky! Thankfully, the LARQ PureVis self-cleaning system keeps yuck away!

I also love that LARQ’s full charge lasts up to a month. Who needs another thing to charge every day, right?! Other great qualities are that the LARQ Bottle features double insulated walls, keeping it hot for 12 hours and cold for 24 hours. It’s chicly powder coated in five subtle colors, so it looks good at school, at the office, on a hike, or wherever your travels take you. Grab one for your child and one for you here.

3. Destroy air pollutants with Molekule Air Pro and Molekule Air Mini+ Purifiers

Did you know that indoor air quality can sometimes be worse than outdoors? That’s so alarming to me, especially when we spend so much of our time indoors! When researching a solution to purify our home’s air, I found Molekule products, which have been FDA cleared for medical use, including in the home, for the destruction of viruses and bacteria in particular. Molekule has been proven in lab settings to destroy 99% of SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, in 1 hour! Also, peer-reviewed testing has demonstrated Molekule’s ability to inactivate the H1N1 flu virus by up to 99.99% in single-pass experiments. This is PHENOMENAL! Molekule sets the standard for the air purifying industry!

Molekule’s purifiers work by using Photo Electrochemical Oxidation (PECO; sounds like Pee-Koh) technology. PECO uses oxidation to break down pollutants at the molecular level, which can destroy chemicals like VOCs, ozone, mold, viruses, bacteria and more. PECO — the technology inside all Molekule air purifiers — was developed over the past two and a half decades as a unique and innovative way to mitigate indoor air pollution. Instead of trapping organic pollutants within the unit like other air purifiers, PECO destroys them at the chemical level.

For large spaces in our home, the Molekule Air Pro cleans up to 1,000 square feet. Air Pro is equipped with a robust suite of sensors that destroys pollutants including viruses, bacteria, chemicals, and mold, while also detecting relative humidity, and CO2. We also can track air quality trends with a retroactive view into the air quality of the space. Called Expanded Air History, this feature gives Air Pro users the ability to see which pollutants are affecting the indoor air quality over the past day, week, or month.

For smaller spaces in our home, like the children’s bedrooms, the Molekule Air Mini+ cleans up to 250 square feet. I love that it is lightweight and easy to carry from room to room. Air Mini+ has a particulate matter sensor designed to detect particles in the air like dust, dander, VOCs, mold, bacteria and viruses. It also is equipped with Auto Protect mode, which automatically adjusts the device’s fan speed based on the particulate matter it senses. With Auto Protect Mode, Air Mini+ responds in real-time to reduce the amount of particles in the air like pollen and dust, while also capturing and destroying other indoor air pollutants. This compliments what the PECO filter already provides the device, ensuring the capture and destruction of the widest range of pollutants in the air. 

I honestly didn’t think too much about indoor air quality until I had children and learned research shows that children breathe more pollutants than adults per body weight, meaning they’re more susceptible to health complications from pollutants, like mold in classrooms and gasses from school buses. Similarly, the EPA notes that almost one in 13 children suffers from asthma, one of the leading causes of student absences. Poor indoor air quality affects everyone, but especially children – making Molekule air purifiers an important line of defense! Find Molekule air purifiers here.

4. Reduce stress and anxiety with Zenimal Kids guided meditation audio player

According to a report by the American Psychological Association, long-term stress weakens the responses of our immune system. Our kids are under a tremendous amount of pressure to perform at school and sports, and repeated stress could really affect their bodies’ ability to fight off infections. Help your child destress with Zenimal Kids guided meditation audio player. My favorite thing about this device is that it is screen free! There is no app, subscription, or pesky pairing to manage which gives kids full autonomy over their meditation practice. It was designed by a mom who wanted her own children to have something they could control to build their wellness skills.

From A to Zen, the portable audio player comes with 9 meditation tracks for sleep, relaxation, breathing, creativity, stillness, empathy, gratitude, and feelings, ranging from 3-15 minutes long. Many children may find that they love using their Zenimal as a sleep aid. Simply turn on one of the peaceful tracks and your child will fall asleep the all-natural way, calmed and peaceful, without the use of medications or melatonin. Kids can also use it at school during challenging times since the device has a headphone jack. It’s also a great tool for in the car or school bus on the way to school to center the mind and body first thing in the morning. The rechargeable battery lasts 7 hours and the food-grade silicone cover is removable and washable. If you’re like me and want one of these Zenimals for yourself, the brand also makes a version for teens and adults, called Zenimal+. I’ve always thought that meditation apps on my phone ruined the idea of a peaceful meditation practice (personally, I want to put my phone AWAY when I’m trying to relax and reconnect), so I love that I finally have a screen-free tool to guide me in calming my mind! Zenimal Kids is great for children ages 5-12, and Zenimal+ is perfect for ages 13 to adults.

5. Get quality sleep with the adjustable MLILY JAMA Pillow

According to an article from Mayo Clinic, studies show that people who don’t get quality sleep or enough sleep are more likely to get sick after being exposed to a virus, such as a common cold virus. Lack of sleep can also affect how fast you recover if you do get sick. Help your child get their best sleep possible with the MLILY JAMA Pillow, an adjustable foam pillow specially designed for children and their growing bodies, ergonomically shaped and sized for kids ages 3+. Its unique feature includes three foam layers individually wrapped – two flat layers to adjust the height as their body grows and one top layer contoured to support the head and neck for proper spinal alignment. The modal fabric is soft, breathable, hypoallergenic and made from 100% biodegradable material derived from beech tree pulp. The removable cover is machine washable and features a hidden zipper design that conceals sharp edges. Plus, your kids will love the 90s aesthetic and bright purple and teal colors!

I love a product that has a good give-back component, and MLILY gives a portion of proceeds from every JAMA sold to Special Spaces, a not-for-profit organization that creates dream bedroom makeovers for children ages 2-19 who have cancer. MLILY JAMA pillows are available to purchase here.

Which of these products would you like to try to help keep your kids healthy this school year? Do you have any other favorite products to boost your child’s immune system I should know about? Let me know by commenting below!

I often share top products and easy recipes for young families that help make their lives simpler and healthier, so be sure to follow me on Instagram and TikTok for my latest posts!

XO Maggie

AFFILIATE DISCLOSURE: Some of this post contains affiliate links for the products I use and LOVE. If you take action on these links (like clicking, buying, etc.), I may receive compensation at no cost to you. As always, all opinions are my own, and I’ll only recommend what I truly love. For more information about affiliates and your privacy, view our Terms & Conditions page here.

Homemade Chewy Chocolate Chip Granola Bars: Nut-Free and Gluten-Free!

Cooking, Kitchen, Lifestyle

Chewy chocolate chip granola bars were one of my favorite snacks growing up, and now it’s one of my children’s favorite foods!

The current back-to-school season brings me so much nostalgia for these nourishing granola bars, as I vividly remember reaching for these bars in between school and sports practice or being excited when I found one in my lunchbox packed by my mother.

Homemade Chewy Chocolate Chip Granola Bars taste better than the packaged name-brand bars!

As I got older, I phased out on snacking on them and eating most pre-packaged snacks in general for the health benefits of eating more whole foods.

When I became a mom, my kids starting requesting for me to buy more granola bars at the grocery store. I was happy to see them delight in the same snack that I loved when I was a kid, but I couldn’t help but be curious about the ingredients in them. I was shocked to see that our favorite chocolate chip granola bars have around 26 ingredients listed on the wrapper, including tons of processed ingredients like sugar, brown sugar, corn syrup, corn syrup solids, sorbitol, soybean oil and “natural flavor” (whatever that is!).

Determined to create my own homemade version of our favorite chewy chocolate chip granola bars, I found this recipe from Love and Lemons that uses only seven simple ingredients! I took it a step further and made this recipe with nut-free ingredients, so my kids can easily take them to school!

Not only do my kids love these granola bars, my husband and I enjoy snacking on them, too! I actually think they taste better than the brand-name packaged bars! They’re so chewy and naturally sweet! These bars have become our easy go-to for after-school snacks and quick breakfasts when we’re short on time!

Homemade Chewy Chocolate Chip Granola Bars

Scroll to the bottom of the page for this easy Homemade Chewy Chocolate Chip Granola Bars recipe!

What You Need to Make Homemade Chewy Chocolate Chip Granola Bars

Tools & Equipment:

  • One 8×8 baking pan or pyrex dish – You’ll use this baking pan or dish to set and cool the granola bars in the fridge. A baking pan is preferred, but I’ve used pyrex dishes, too. If you use a pyrex dish, the granola bar mix may not all lay flat and the edges may turn up.
  • One large mixing bowl – I used my largest glass mixing bowl to stir all the ingredients together.
  • Measuring cups – Specifically, you’ll need 1 cup (250 ml), 1/2 cup (125 ml), 1/3 cup (80 ml), 1 Tbsp (15 ml) and 1 Tsp (5 ml).
  • Parchment Paper – I cut 2 pieces of parchment paper to fit the size of my 8×8 baking pan for setting and cooling the granola bars.
  • Cling wrap – Cover the granola bars as they cool with Glad Press’N Seal Wrap. You can also use the cling wrap to cover the granola bars to keep them fresh for the week. I’m obsessed with Glad Press’N Seal and use it in my kitchen all the time.
Homemade Chewy Chocolate Chip Granola Bars are made with only 7 simple ingredients!

Ingredients:

  • Natural Sunflower Seed Butter – I didn’t discover sunflower seed butter until I had to find an alternative for peanut butter for my son’s PB&J sandwiches for school. Most schools these days are nut-free. My son is such a picky eater and basically only eat PB&J sandwiches, so I was very nervous about whether he’d like the new seed butter. I’m happy to report that this SunButter sunflower seed butter is a hit! He’s never mentioned it tasting any different compared to regular peanut butter. In fact, I think he likes it more than peanut butter! For this recipe, make sure you use the natural sunflower seed butter because it’s more runny. The runnier the seed butter, the easier it will be to mix!
  • Honey – Almost any honey will do, but I prefer organic, raw and unfiltered for health benefits. Target’s Good & Gather Honey is good.
  • Vanilla Extract – This is a staple in my kitchen, as I use it for so many recipes! Rodelle Pure Vanilla Extract is a great, sustainable brand with only 3 ingredients and no sugar.
  • Sea Salt – Another easy staple in my kitchen! Can’t go wrong with classic Morton’s Sea Salt.
  • Rolled Oats – I discovered Bob’s Red Mill Gluten Free Organic Rolled Oats after I had children and started making more oatmeal, muffins and cookies from scratch. There’s no better brand! I’ve even started mixing them in smoothies to add more nutrients to my kids’ diet!
  • Mini Chocolate ChipsEnjoy Life Mini Chocolate Chips are the best to use if you’re concerned about nut and gluten allergies. My kids love them, so I’ll sneak a couple plain ones in their lunchboxes for a sweet treat.
  • Pepitas or Pumpkin Seeds – Pepitas are a type of pumpkin seed that I love tossing in salads, smoothies and granola. These Target brand pumpkin seeds are delicious and nut-free, so they’re school-friendly! I also like to buy the raw pepitas in bulk at Whole Foods, which would work perfectly for this recipe.

How to Make Nut-Free, Gluten Free Chewy Chocolate Chip Granola Bars

With the appropriate kitchen tools and ingredients on-hand, any novice chef can make these simple homemade Chewy Chocolate Chip Granola Bars! Here’s what to do:

  1. Prep your pan: Line your baking pan with parchment paper.
  2. Stir wet ingredients: Combine the seed butter, vanilla extract, honey and salt in a large mixing bowl. Stir very well!
  3. Mix dry ingredients: Fold in the rolled oats, mini chocolate chips and pepitas. The mixture will appear very dry, but keep stirring until it’s well combined.
  4. Make the bars: Scoop the mix into the parchment-lined dish and firmly press to the sides of the pan. Add another piece of parchment paper on top of the mixture and use the back of a large measuring cup to continue to flatten the top of the bars.
  5. Chill the bars: Cover the bars with cling wrap or foil, and transfer to the refrigerator to chill for one hour. It’s very important to let the bars fully chill for at least one hour; otherwise, they won’t stick together!
  6. Enjoy: Remove bars from the refrigerator, slice into bars, and enjoy! Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator or freezer to snack on these bars all week!
This is what the granola bar mixture will look like before adding to the pan!

Tips and Suggestions for Better Homemade Chewy Chocolate Chip Granola Bars

These homemade Chewy Chocolate Chip Granola Bars are already so easy to make, but here’s some tips to make whipping up a batch of these bars even easier:

  1. Use natural sunflower seed butter – The natural butters are usually the runniest, which will make stirring so much easier!
  2. Don’t cut the chill time short – I know you’re eager to taste these yummy treats, but please keep them in the refrigerator at least for one hour so you’re able to properly slice the bars without crumbling apart.
  3. Store in fridge or freezer – Because these bars are made with simple, natural ingredients, they need to be kept in the fridge or freezer to keep them fresh and from crumbling. I like to store them in an airtight container separated by parchment paper so they don’t stick together. You can eat them right out of the fridge. If you’re packing them for school, it’s best to add a cool pack in the lunchbox. If you’re storing them in the freezer, allow them to thaw for about 20-30 minutes before eating. The bars will keep for one week in the fridge and two months in the freezer.
  4. Only use mini chips – Regular sized chocolate chips are too large for the mixture to stick together. If you can’t find mini chocolate chips at the store, cut the regular sized chips into smaller pieces.
  5. Try other nut butters – If you’re concerned with allergies or prefer nut butters, you don’t have to use sunflower seed butter! This original recipe from Love & Lemons is made with natural peanut butter, and it’s very delicious!
  6. Switch up your mix-ins – We keep it simple with mini chocolate chips and pepitas, but feel free to swap in your favorite ingredients! Raisins, dried currants, dried cranberries, crushed peanuts or crushed almonds are really great options! For a sweet swap, trade the mini chocolate chips for mini white chocolate or dark chocolate chips, or try peanut butter chips! Yum!

Below is the simplest recipe for Homemade Chewy Chocolate Chip Granola Bars! Don’t forget to save this recipe to Pinterest!

Recipe: Homemade Chewy Chocolate Chip Granola Bars (Nut-Free and Gluten-Free)

Ingredients:

Instructions:

  1. Line 8×8 baking pan or pyrex dish with parchment paper.
  2. In a large bowl, stir together peanut butter, honey, vanilla extract and salt.
  3. Mix in the rolled oats, mini chocolate chips and pepitas. Stir until well combined.
  4. Press mixture into baking pan. Place a second piece of parchment paper on top of mixture and use a large measuring cup to press the mixture firmly to the pan and flatten. Cover pan with foil or cling wrap and chill in refrigerator for at least one hour.
  5. Remove from fridge, slice into bars and enjoy! Store bars in refrigerator for one week or freezer for two months.

Did you try this recipe? I’d love to hear what you think! Let me know if you tried other mix-ins, like crushed peanuts, raisins or white chocolate, too!

For more easy recipes and lifestyle tips, be sure to follow me on Instagram and TikTok!

XO Maggie

AFFILIATE DISCLOSURE: Some of this post contains affiliate links for the products I use and LOVE. If you take action on these links (like clicking, buying, etc.), I may receive compensation at no cost to you. As always, all opinions are my own, and I’ll only recommend what I truly love. For more information about affiliates and your privacy, view our Terms & Conditions page here.