Catherine Tanaka
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HEALTHY, NUT-FREE {school friendly} TREAT

With school back in full force and my newly added job of being lunch lady too the mix, I found myself trying to find great ways to pack my kids a nutritious lunch they would actually eat; operative word: Actually.  If I’m being completely honest, my kids aren’t the best eaters in terms of variety.  My daughter doesn’t eat meat much- loves anything that is a refined carb especially slathered with butter.  And my son doesn’t eat a vegetable except cucumber and it is just a vehicle for shuttling hummus in his pie hole.  The one certainty for them both is that whatever sweet treat is included in their meal is the first thing that gets eaten…  

My mission last week was to find some great options to include in their lunches that were satisfying on their end but satisfactory on my end for being wholesome.  Everything I found however, organic, whole food or otherwise were laced with processed vegetable oils and sugars! Yuck!

Look my kids don’t eat great but the last thing I really want is to spike their insulin so high and load their systems with processed oils that may inhibit their energy and learning.  I know, perhaps i’m psycho. Nonetheless, I found a delicious solution!!!

This is a recipe that I give my clients on my 28 Day Protocol program as a source of good nutrients while satisfying the “treat” factor many of us love.

It is completely nut-free, nutrient dense, and I swear to you, my kids LOVE them!!!  Simple and Satisfying~  


  • 1 1/2 c Gluten free old fashioned oats
  • 1/2 cup organic chia seeds
  • 1/2 cup organic cacao nibs
  • 1 cup organic sunflower or pumpkin seed butter (nut-free and school safe) 
  • 1/4 cup organic honey
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2 scoops whey protein (I use genuine health fermented greek powder in chocolate or Progressive’s whey isolate chocolate protein, or Sunwarrior Vegan Protein)

*I like adding chocolate protein for the taste- kids seem to like it better.  You can omit the protein if you prefer.


  • Add oats, chia and cacao nibs, protein and combine.
  • Add seed butter, honey and vanilla.
  • Combine to form a sticky paste- add a touch of water to adjust consistency.
  • Shape mixture into tablespoon sized balls.
  • Store in refrigerator.

Don’t eat them all at one sitting!

A friend of mine asked me yesterday why I’m including protein and chia seeds and cacao nibs etc.


Protein is essential to our kids growing healthy and strong.  While I don’t recommend protein supplements with kids that can get it from their balanced diet, the reality is that my kids don’t eat a lot of it.  

I believe that supplementing with a organic, high quality protein powder is excellent is supporting my kids nutrient, nutrition and immune system.  It isn’t a large amount per ball, but it does add a balance macronutrient profile to this great snack.


I particularly love chia seeds for not only the micronutrient benefits but also for the texture and versatility of how you can use them. They are high in nutrients, fiber and have been touted a “superfood”. They are an excellent source of omega-3 fatty acids, rich in antioxidants, and they provide fiber, iron, and calcium.  

Such a great bang for your buck and if your kids are not bothered by the texture, add them in!  And add them in your shake or yogurts too!



These are my new found obsession.  The crunch and subtle sweet taste of these little nuggets are so satisfying.  They are not bitter at all and add just a wonderful texture to these balls that they’re a must add!  

The cherry on top however is that they are jammed packed with antioxidants.


I hope you love these little balls just as much as I do and feel good about putting a nutritious and delicious treat in their lunches!


About the Author Catherine Tanaka

My name is Catherine Tanaka. I am a Personal Trainer, Transformation Coach, Yogi enthusiast and Mom of two. I am on a mission to make a difference in others happiness through fitness using the best research available to give you the best fitness hacks to make being the best version of you possible. Learn more about my one-on-one coaching or check out my Online Course - The Body Project Protocol.