Lunchbox Love - Caramel Banana Cereal Bars

August is almost over, meaning parents and kids across the country are in the ritual countdown to class. New backpacks, sneakers and pencils have been purchased, shaggy summer hair has been snipped and swept away, and lunchboxes have come out of storage for the back-to-school, packable, meal-making frenzy. The first week of class can be a transition for everyone involved, why not sweeten the new routine with my healthier version of classic crispy yet chewy cereal bars?!  This crispy treat recipe for Caramel Banana Cereal Bars will score an A+ in flavor and warm fuzzy feelings from kids looking for a little something special from mom – I believe all children, from tykes to teens, appreciate the special attention of homemade goodies. Moms and dads will appreciate these easy-to-make bars for their no-cook convenience (only a quick microwave zap) and mindfulness to healthier ingredients where possible. For example, Low-Fat Caramel Dip from Litehouse Foods was used as well as much less butter than in traditional recipes. This recipe also earns high marks as an after-school snack and bake-sale super star.  You may notice I snuck in some walnuts, banana chips and a “protein” boosted cereal for extra nutrition. These ingredients can be substituted for other mix-ins, if needed - for youngsters who won’t or can’t eat nuts, just swap in golden raisins or dried apple bits.  You won’t use the whole tub of caramel for this recipe, save the remainder for topping yogurt, waffles or dipping animal crackers into! 

Caramel Banana Cereal Bars

Serves 9 | Finish in 10 minutes

Sweeten up the back-to-school routine with this healthier take on classic chewy cereal bars - a 10 minute recipe that earns high marks in lunchboxes, at bake sales and for homework time treats.


¾ cup banana chip,
3 ounces walnuts,
4 cups unsweetened (protein-fortified flake or “Os” cereal),
4 cups unsweetened rice or wheat squares type cereal,
2 tablespoon butter,
8 ounces mini marshmallow,
2/3 cup Low-Fat Caramel Dip from Litehouse Foods,


1. Add banana chips and walnuts to medium bowl and lightly break up into coarse chunks with mallet or back of spoon.
2. Add cereals to bowl with banana walnut mixture; toss to combine. Set aside.
3. In large microwave-safe bowl, add marshmallows, caramel dip and butter. Microwave on 50% power for one minute, stir until creamy. Return to microwave and cook at 50% power for additional 1 minute; stir until creamy. If marshmallows aren’t completely incorporated, continue and stir in 20 second blasts.
4. Add dry cereal mixture to caramel mixture and stir with spatula until everything well coated.
5. Line 8” x 8” baking pan with wax paper or spray with oil.
6. Press mixture down firmly into pan and then cut into 9 squares.

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