Recipe ReDux: White Mulberry, Date & Sour Cherry Lunchbox Bars – by Emma Stirling APD

So this month’s Recipe ReDux challenge is a goodie. Come up with a most excellent new recipe for a lunchbox bar or bite. Sounds simple hey? Well not really, when you factor in the full checklist of what makes the grade at school.

That’s nuts?

No nuts – In Australia many primary schools have initiated a nuts policy due to the growing number of children with severe peanut and tree nut allergies.  Allergy and Anaphylaxis Australia has excellent guidance here for schools.  So I knew my recipe had to contain no nuts.

Egg free – I’ve also been contacted by many food technology teachers about the issues faced with teaching cooking. Several schools have decided to remove eggs completely from their classes, again due to students with severe food allergies. Even art classes have removed egg cartons due to “traces of”. So I decided to make this recipe egg free too.

photos of nuts and egg by emma stirling

Hand held – my kids eat with supervision in the classroom but they only get 10 minutes before everyone rushes out to play.  If you have food left over to eat, you get sent to the supervised outside tables. Again so staff can keep a watchful eye on food swapping. So this recipe had to be super portable.

Healthier – of course I want to see healthier lunch boxes largely made up of wholefoods.  But I think we have to be careful about instilling rules that make them completely squeaky clean.  I worry that we may create a generation with an after school packaged snack frenzy if we “ban” these foods at schools and go cold turkey.  Some would want a no sugar snack too….but I think we need to trade in good taste.  This recipe is healthier than the traditional Country Women’s Association, but still sweet with special, dried fruits.  Instead of just beautiful plump medjool dates, I popped to Rita’s at South Melbourne market for dried white mulberries, the cutest little figs and sour cherries too.

White Mulberry, Date & Sour Cherry Lunch Box Bars – nut free, egg free

This is a classic CWA date slice recipe that I have handwritten in my recipe book. I copied it from my mum’s recipe book, who copied it from her mum, my Gran, and even though they are the only recipe books we have left in the family tree, I suspect it goes back further. I ReDuxed it with wholemeal flour and richly caramely muscovado sugar and the more exotic dried fruits.

White Mulberry, Date & Sour Cherry Lunch Box Bars - nut free, egg free by Emma

Ingredients and method in one go (country women are efficient you know!):

Place in a saucepan and bring to the boil:

1 cup chopped dried fruit to your liking, including 1/2 cup chopped dates

3/4 cup sugar – I used Dark Muscovado for natural molasses

2 tbsp butter

1 cup hot water

photo of saucepan and sauce boiled

Remove from the heat and add in 1 tsp bicarbonate of soda – it will froth and foam.  Pour into a bowl and sift in 2 cups wholemeal flour.  Stir to combine. Bake in square tin, lined with baking paper, in a moderate oven for up to 1/2hr. Slice and wrap for lunches.

snack bar Baked in square tin, lined with baking paper, in a moderate ove


White Mulberry, Date & Sour Cherry Lunch Box Bars photo by emma stirling

I can’t wait to see what the other ReDuxers got up to and love to hear your philosophy on how to keep a healthy balance with the school lunchbox lovelies?

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