Dark Chocolate Bark: A DIY Easter Treat!

I’m tickled to have Jennifer Tyler Lee creator of “Crunch a Color: The Healthy Eating Game for Kids” and “Crunch a Color: Conversation Starters for Parents and Kids” as a guest on Organized Bites today. You like chocolate, right? Well, move over chocolate bunny! Jennifer is sharing a fun and fabulously easy recipe for Dark Chocolate Bark from her new book, “The 52 New Foods Challenge”.

I’ve been a big fan of Jennifer’s work since I participated in her first “Healthy Lunch Challenge” last March. And, I was thrilled to be among those featured on The Huffington Post and Jamie Oliver’s Food Revolution. (You can find my entry for DIY Almond Butter Pizzas here.) And, Scout’s “It’s Greek to Me” Pasta Salad that we created for Round Two is still in regular rotation at our house. So, I was thrilled to be able to offer y’all a sneak peak at one of the recipes from her new book. Many thanks, Jennifer!

Dark Chocolate Bark: A DIY Easter Treat!

Dark chocolate is a fantastic way to health up your Easter baskets. Not only do you reap the benefits of dark chocolate. This super easy dark chocolate bark recipe from The 52 New Foods Challenge is fun to cook with your kids. Enjoy mixing and matching your favorite ingredients!

dark chocolate bark recipe

Dark Chocolate Bark Recipe | The 52 New Foods Challenge

Dark Chocolate Bark | The 52 New Foods Challenge

Ingredients for Dark Chocolate Bark

1 ½ cups dark chocolate chips (minimum 70% cacao)
¼ cup chopped walnuts
¼ cup dried cherries
¼ cup unsweetened coconut flakes
¼ teaspoon kosher salt
Optional: Additional chopped walnuts, cherries and coconut for sprinkling.

Directions for Dark Chocolate Bark

1. Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper or a Silpat liner. Set aside.

2. In a large saucepan over high heat, bring 2 cups of water to a boil. Reduce the heat to a simmer and place a large heatproof bowl over the pot.

3. Add the chocolate chips to the heatproof bowl and let your kids stir gently until it melts. You’ll need to hold the bowl to keep it from slipping.

4. Remove the chocolate from the heat and let your kids stir in the walnuts, cherries and coconut.

5. Pour the chocolate mixture onto the lined baking sheet and spread the chocolate with a spatula into a thin, even layer. Let your kids make any shape they like.

6. Sprinkle with the salt and a few extra walnuts, cherries and coconut.

7. Freeze for 1 hour, or until the chocolate is solid. Invite your kids to break the bark into large chunks. Store in a large glass container in the freezer, or wrap the pieces up in cello bags tied with raffia ribbons to give to friends and family!

Tip: Add a touch of grapeseed oil to your chocolate chips to make them easier to melt.

Recipe inspired by Frances Largeman-Roth’s Nutty Chocolate Bark.

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BBFs Against Bullying

OrganizedBites.com | "BBFs Against Bullying"

My fellow Bento Bloggers & Friends and I are banding together today to take a stand against bullying. Recent news has featured cases ranging from children dismissed from school over backpacks and haircuts that don’t fit gender stereotypes, to kids so desperate to escape harassment over their passions that they turn to suicide. My heart aches for these children.

I see parents fighting for their children’s right to be included, and communities on the web coming together in support…and, that gives me hope. Hope that the adults in our schools and the other kids in the classrooms will be aware of what’s going on, and brave enough to step in when a child is being bullied.

You have the power to make a difference. Take a stand. Put an arm around that kid who’s being shamed so that the bullies know their targets aren’t alone. Bullies like to pick off the easy prey…don’t make it easy for them. Don’t assume that stepping up won’t make a difference. It will. You may never know how much. But, it will help.

Speak up and let the jackals know it’s not up to the bullies of the world to determine what another person should like or wear. The teasing may not seem like a big deal to you…but, for the kid being targeted your support is going to mean a lot. Speak up and let the kids being teased know that they’re not alone.

And for the kids that are the brunt of jokes, the snide remarks, and laughter…you are not alone. And, you need to know that. Deep within your soul you need to own the fact that it is not you against the whole rest of the world. We have your back.

What makes you a target for these cowards, is what makes you so beautiful. You stand out. And, that scares them. But, the people that stand out, are the ones that shape the world. Trust me.  Hold on to that and know that you have work to do, problems to solve, and beauty to create.

Love yourself. Love yourself like you love your best friend, your siblings, or your parents. And, know that you are loved in return. Wear that love like armor and find help if you don’t think you can keep fighting. Because we’re out there. The parents and adults working in your schools and at your church…coaching the teams and leading the programs. If there’s a problem and you can shine a little light on it, we want to help make it better. You’re not alone.

Scout’s Twilight Sparkle lunch today is in support of Grayson Bruce and Michael Morones*. And, it’s for all the kids that don’t want to be held to a pink or blue gender stereotype, too. There’s a rainbow of colors out there, and a whole universe of interests and passions. Everybody gets to choose their own favorites.

The “Bento Bloggers & Friends Against Bullying Blog Hop” continues with Jackie at Loving Lunches. Click this link or the button below for more on this subject that is near and dear to our hearts.

MakeLunchNotWar

*There’s a GoFundMe account set up for Michael’s recovery. If you’re moved to contribute to his fund, you can find it here.

Scout’s lunch today is packed in a Lunchbots Duo. The cutter I used for her sandwich was made by the uber talented Warpzone Prints. The top portion of the Duo contains organic mixed greens, organic strawberries, organic mandarin orange, heirloom tomatoes, and organic blueberries. The bottom half is a Twilight Sparkle sandwich of Trader Joe’s “Organic Crunchy Peanut Butter made with Sea Salt” on Alpine Valley Organic English Muffin Bread. The pretzels underneath the sandwich are Pepperidge Farm Baked Naturals Simply Pretzel Thins butterflies.

Not pictured are Scout’s utensils (either her PlanetBox fork/spoon, little happy fellow fork, smiley fork, or her LunchBots cutlery set), a cloth napkin, peppermint EO hand sanitizer and an insulated Klean Kanteen of ice water. I use two different ice packs to keep Scout’s lunch at a safe temperature. A sheet of Cryopak Flexible Ice Pack for Lunch Boxes goes underneath her bento, and either a PlanetBox Cold Kit or a Kids Konserve Ice Pack and Sweat-Free Cover travels in the mesh pocket of the case. And, everything…and, I mean everything, gets labeled with one of Scout’s Mabel’s Labels.

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♪♫Happy Birthday, Dr. Seuss ♫♪ : “The Cat in the Hat”

OrganizedBites.com | 02-28-2014

On Friday, I packed Scout’s PlanetBox Rover with a little “Cat in the Hat” themed lunch to celebrate Dr. Seuss’ 110th birthday that fell over the weekend.

Yes, I packed it in a box…packed it fast while clock tick tocked. Packed it so as not to waste…packed it full of bright, good tastes.

Dr. Seuss’ work embodies most of what I want to pass on to Scout: that life can be magical and filled with joy. It’s okay to be silly sometimes. But, we need to stand up and protect what we love. If you believe in yourself, good things will follow. Don’t try to fit into a mold. You are who you are, be the best you can be. Think for yourself, that’s beautiful to me.

Thank you, Dr. Seuss!

The Sally-wich is Trader Joe’s Cocoa-Almond Spread and Trader Joe’s Salted Crunchy Peanut Butter on Alpine Valley Organic Honey Whole Wheat Bread with a hair bow made from a Whole Food’s gummy heart (how-to on that below). There’s some organic butter lettuce from our garden underneath. The Cat’s hat is made up of circles of organic strawberries and organic apple threaded on a bamboo skewer snipped to fit the compartment. I tucked a thick plank of organic English cucumber in the bottom to sneak in a little extra green, and because Scout loves cucumber. Trader Joe’s Veggie Sticks provide a reedy backdrop for a single Pepperidge Farm Goldfish Colors (surprisingly dye-free). Organic broccolini, organic mixed medley tomatoes, and clementine wedges are garnished with mint and watercress from our garden. A little paper star on top of a Trader Joe’s Dark Chocolate Honey Mint for dessert made me think of the ball in the story.

The Sally-wich was super easy. I used one of my new Fred’s Breadhead cutters for the base. Then flattened a gummy heart with my rolling pin, and trimmed it into the bow shape from the illustration with my handy-dandy kitchen shears.

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Not pictured are Scout’s utensils (either her PlanetBox fork/spoon, little happy fellow fork, smiley fork, or her LunchBots cutlery set), a cloth napkin, peppermint EO hand sanitizer and an insulated Klean Kanteen of ice water. I use two different ice packs to keep Scout’s lunch at a safe temperature. A sheet of Cryopak Flexible Ice Pack for Lunch Boxes goes underneath her bento, and either a PlanetBox Cold Kit or a Kids Konserve Ice Pack and Sweat-Free Cover travels in the mesh pocket of the case. And, everything…and, I mean everything, gets labeled with one of Scout’s Mabel’s Labels.

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Scout’s Lunch Box (January 13-17, 2014)

Second school week of 2014, and it felt good to get back into the routine. Scout missed her classmates, and I had reached my limit with all the holiday sweets and treats. So glad to be able to fill up Scout’s lunch box with lots of colorful fruits and vegetables. Also, our co-op takes time off at Christmas. I’d sorely missed the savings that stretch my budget, and the built in bonus of a grab bag of organic seasonal produce to vary our menus.

And, about those holiday sweets…we’re still sitting on a treasure trove of dye-free candy canes. They may end up as Valentine peppermint bark. That would totally work, right?

OrganizedBites.com | 01-13-2014

Monday in a Lunchbots Quad:

Organic black beans, organic Romaine, black olives, organic mixed medley tomatoes, baby bell peppers, a mandarin orange, and El Milagro All Natural Tortilla Chips.

OrganizedBites.com | 01-14-2014

Tuesday in a Lunchbots Trio: Peanut Butter + Fruit pinwheels (Trader Joe’s “Organic Creamy Peanut Butter made with Sea Salt” on Alpine Valley Organic Honey Whole Wheat Bread) on a skewer with an organic strawberry cut into a heart. Raw unsalted cashews, Trader Joe’s Cheddar Rockets, half a clementine, organic mixed medley tomatoes, and organic baby lettuces.

The pinwheels were super easy to make. I flattened two slices of bread with a rolling pin, and spread them with peanut butter. I rolled each slice separately and used a serrated knife to slice them into coins, which I speared on wooden skewers. Two slices of bread and two strawberries netted two skewers.

OrganizedBites.com | 01-15-2014

Wednesday in a Lunchbots Duo: Scout’s “It’s Greek to Me” pasta salad (Whole Food’s Whole Wheat Pasta Shells, kalamata olives, organic baby spinach, black beans, tofu cubes, mixed medley tomatoes, sunflower seeds, and a pickled okra.) Organic strawberries, organic baby lettuces, and Trader Joe’s Mini Whole Wheat Pita Bread (quartered).

This was a clean out the fridge variation on the recipe we came up with last summer, it’s a great way to use up little bits and odds and ends. I’m so proud of how adventurous Scout is becoming, this is a huge step forward from just a couple of years ago. The red silicone cup helps wrangle the bread and keep it from getting soggy.

OrganizedBites.com | 01-16-2014

Thursday in a Lunchbots Quad: Trader Joe’s Mini Organic Peanut Butter Crackers, organic strawberry slices, organic kiwi cubes, a rosemary sprig, black olives, sliced organic baby carrots, organic baby lettuces, organic mixed medley tomatoes, and organic sugar snap peas.

Thursday’s are early mornings for us. We have to be out the door an hour earlier than usual. So, super quick lunches are in order, and a handful of Trader Joe’s mini crackers fit the bill!

A couple of Scout’s adult teeth are in the “growing in” stage, so I’ve been slicing the baby carrots into planks rather than leaving them whole. It’s much easier for her to chew, and more visually appealing, I think, too.

Scout ran out and plucked the rosemary for our garden, not what I had in mind (I was thinking mint)…but, a great choice to garnish the fruit. The combination of the rosemary, strawberry, and kiwi scents was really, really nice. My budding chef has great instincts.

OrganizedBites.com | 01-17-2014

Friday in a PlanetBox Shuttle: Little flowers of Trader Joe’s Cashew Butter join Pooh and Tigger bites of Trader Joe’s Cocoa-Almond Spread on Alpine Valley Organic Honey Whole Wheat Bread. Trader Joe’s Veggie Stix, organic strawberry slices, organic kiwi cubes, black olives, organic baby lettuces, organic mixed medley tomatoes,  organic sugar snap peas, and blooms cut from slices of organic baby carrots.

This was a special lunch to celebrate A.A. Milne’s birthday. Check out MamaBelly’s link-up to celebrate Pooh bear. You may see a couple of familiar lunches there. And, if you want to duplicate the carrot flowers, you can find the two cutters here and here. These are two of my most used sets…flowers make such sweet additions to Scout’s lunches.

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Not pictured are Scout’s utensils (either her PlanetBox fork/spoon, little happy fellow fork, smiley fork, or her LunchBots cutlery set), a cloth napkin, peppermint EO hand sanitizer and an insulated Klean Kanteen of ice water. I use two different ice packs to keep Scout’s lunch at a safe temperature. A sheet of Cryopak Flexible Ice Pack for Lunch Boxes goes underneath her bento, and either a PlanetBox Cold Kit or a Kids Konserve Ice Pack and Sweat-Free Cover travels in the mesh pocket of the case. And, everything…and, I mean everything, gets labeled with one of Scout’s Mabel’s Labels.

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Scout’s Lunch Box (January 6-10, 2014)

One of my New Year’s Resolutions is to get back to regularly sharing what I pack for Scout. Lunch has been crafted, packed, and photographed each school morning this year…it really is a shame to keep them corralled up on my computer, Atticus. Many thanks to those of you who have been shaking my cage and asking for a peak inside Scout’s bentos. It’s so good to feel wanted, and a little healthy guilt, as you can see, rarely fails to motivate.

I want to branch out a bit, as well, and cover some of the topics that y’all have been asking about…gear and tool storage, shopping, techniques, and such. In order to accomplish this, and keep on top of the rest of my world, I’ve realized that a bloggity overhaul is required. So, I’m going to test drive a weekly roundup of lunches for the next few weeks, and add in other, more informational posts, once I get back up to speed.

OrganizedBites.com | 01-06-14

Monday in a Lunchbots Trio:

Organic rainbow carrot sticks, blackberries, butter leaf lettuce, organic garbanzo beans, Kalamata olives, baby bell peppers, watercress, organic mixed medley mini tomatoes, and Laurel Hill Sea Salt Pretzel Chips.

The butter lettuce and the watercress were both purchased with the roots attached back in the fall as part of a “Zombie Vegetable Pack” from our Bountiful Baskets Co-op). Once they were nearly used up, I replanted them in our garden where they’ve been thriving and continuing to produce!

OrganizedBites.com |01-07-14

Tuesday in a PlanetBox Shuttle:

Blossom shaped Trader Joe’s (TJ’s) “Organic Creamy Peanut Butter made with Sea Salt” on Alpine Valley Organic Honey Whole Wheat Bread. Organic rainbow carrot sticks, blackberries, butter leaf lettuce, blood orange, baby bell peppers, watercress, organic mixed medley mini tomatoes, and Laurel Hill Sea Salt Pretzel Chips.

The sandwich was cut with a blossom cutter similar to this one, and then a center hole was punched in the top slice with the smallest of this set. I love the peek-a-boo effect and this design always reminds of those little cookies we had in Kindergarten. The ones you could stick on your finger and nibble around the outside.

OrganizedBites.com | 01-08-2014

Wednesday in a LunchBots Thermal Jar & To-Go Ware Large Sidekick: Annie’s Homegrown Totally Natural Arthur Macaroni & Cheese and a sprig of rosemary, whole clementine, organic English cucumber, organic spinach, organic mixed medley mini tomatoes, kalamata olives, and organic carrot flowers.

I’m grateful that my Third Grader isn’t too cool to still love Arthur. We were lucky to have the chance to hear Marc Brown speak when Scout was younger, and that cemented my love for his sense of humor and creativity. Little anthropomorphic aardvark shaped pasta plus the goodness of Annie’s is a total win in my book.

The little blossom cutter was perfect to shape the carrots, and to cut a little hole in the top of the clementine to get Scout started with the peel.

OrganizedBites.com | 01-09-2014

Thursday in a Lunchbots Quad:

Chunks of Trader Joe’s Organic Sprouted Tofu (Extra Firm), butter lettuce, watercress, organic spinach, blackberries, dried organic rose petals, butter leaf lettuce, Laurel Hill Sea Salt Pretzel Chips, organic English cucumber, watercress, organic mixed medley mini tomatoes, and organic carrot chips,

The dried rose petals are from a local farm in Boulder City, Herbs by Diane. If you’re local to me, I highly recommend checking her out. In addition to organic fresh herbs, vegetables, and edible flowers, she also sells dried herb mixes and handmade soaps…plus, she’s super nice, and it’s good to shop local.

OrganizedBites.com | 01-10-2014

Friday in PlanetBox Shuttle:

Cactus shaped Trader Joe’s “Organic Creamy Peanut Butter made with Sea Salt” and Trader Joe’s Cocoa-Almond Spread (Hurray for Chocolate Friday!) on Alpine Valley Organic Honey Whole Wheat Bread and Trader Joe’s Veggie Stix. Organic spinach, clementine wedges, organic mixed medley mini tomatoes, kalamata olives, and baby bell pepper rings.

The kids got to take a field trip to Springs Preserves, so I wanted Scout’s lunch to reflect our local habitat. The cactus cutter can be found here. I trimmed the bottom of one sandwich to stagger the heights of the cacti for interest, and added lots of yummy dessert hues.

What do you think of the new format? If you have a moment, I’d love to your impressions, as well as any lunch, food, or kid related resolutions on your list this year. Happy New Year!

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Not pictured are Scout’s utensils (either her PlanetBox fork/spoon, little happy fellow fork, smiley fork, or her LunchBots cutlery set), a cloth napkin, peppermint EO hand sanitizer and an insulated Klean Kanteen of ice water. I use two different ice packs to keep Scout’s lunch at a safe temperature. A sheet of Cryopak Flexible Ice Pack for Lunch Boxes goes underneath her bento, and either a PlanetBox Cold Kit or a Kids Konserve Ice Pack and Sweat-Free Cover travels in the mesh pocket of the case. And, everything…and, I mean everything, gets labeled with one of Scout’s Mabel’s Labels.

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Leftovers on Fridays

Bento Lunch

You’re a Mean One, Mr. Claus?

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OrganizedBites.com | "You’re a Mean One, Mr. Claus?"

Happy Holidays! If you’re just ho-ho-hopping over from my lovely and talented friend, Sarah’s blog, Bentorrific, welcome. Make sure to stay until the end of this post and then click the lovely green button to continue on to see what Rebecca from Licious Lunches has under her tree.

Scout’s got a Grinchy Santa in her PlanetBox Rover, and poor Cindy Lou Who is sooo confused… she looks more than a little cranky, too.

The Cindy Lou Who sandwich is Trader Joe’s (TJ’s) “Organic Creamy Peanut Butter made with Sea Salt” on Alpine Valley Organic Honey Whole Wheat Bread (from our Bountiful Baskets Co-op).

Links of sweet baby peppers form a decorative chain and lay piled with the other ornaments plucked from the tree. The Grinch (Organic Apple, Organic kiwi, marshmallow, and raspberry) is busy wrecking Christmas for Whoville, while he’s all decked out in his North Pole finery. And, a blanket of Trader Joe’s “World’s Puffiest White Cheddar Corn Puffs” falls softly across the top. Dessert is a small heart-shaped piece of Trader Joe’s Fruit Leather that might just grow two size too big by lunchtime.

Warpzone Prints made the Cindy Lou Who cookie cutter, and I have the happy/mean Grinch in his Santa hat set, too. This weekend, we’ll be using them to make cookies from my favorite new sugar cookie recipe from In Katrina’s Kitchen. The Grinch and the chain were cut with my kitchen shears and paring knife, the fruit leather was punched with a small heart shaped cookie cutter.

OrganizedBites.com | "You’re a Mean One, Mr. Claus?"

 Be sure and hop back in your sleigh to visit Rebecca from Licious Lunches and have yourself a Merry little Christmas!

OrganizedBites.com | "You're a Mean One, Mr. Claus"Not pictured is Scout’s PlanetBox fork, her cloth napkin, peppermint EO hand sanitizer and an insulated Klean Kanteen of ice water. I use two different ice packs to keep Scout’s lunch at a safe temperature. A sheet of Cryopak Flexible Ice Pack for Lunch Boxes goes underneath her lunch, and a PlanetBox Cold Kit travels in the mesh pocket of the case. And, everything…and, I mean everything, gets labeled with one of Scout’s Mabel’s Labels.

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