February 19th, 2018


Berry & Chocolate Lunchbox Bars

Any berry jam can be used for these bars. My choice would be a 100% fruit conserve available from most supermarkets as they are lower in sugar and have a full berry flavour. With a hint of autumn in the air I have added a touch of warming spices to the mix.
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 20 minutes


  • 1 ½ cups rolled oats
  • 1 cup desiccated coconut or ground almonds
  • 50 g dark chocolate, 70 per cent, finely chopped
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon mixed spice
  • Pinch of salt
  • ½ cup berry & prune jam - see recipe below or use 100 per cent fruit conserve
  • 75 g butter or coconut oil, melted
  • 2 tablespoons maple syrup or honey
  • 1 free-range egg


  • Preheat oven to 180 degrees Celsius. Line a 22cm square tin with baking paper.
  • Combine the dry ingredients in a large mixing bowl and make a well in the centre. Add the wet ingredients to the bowl and use a fork to whisk together while incorporating the dry ingredients until combined. Tip the mixture into the lined tin and press evenly.
  • Bake for 20 minutes until golden around the edges. Using the baking paper to lift, transfer the slice to a cooling rack. Once cold, use a sharp knife to cut into 18 bars. Store in a covered container in the fridge and consume within five days.

Blackberry & Prune Jam

This low-sugar jam is best made in small quantities as it only keeps for two weeks in the fridge. Larger quantities can be prepared if you have excess berries, and frozen into one-cup portions to thaw as needed. The addition of apple gives the jam a silky texture, and the prunes lend a complementary flavour to the berries while thickening the sauce without the need for adding extra sugar. If you are not a fan of prunes, dried dates can be substituted.
Servings 300 ml
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 20 minutes


  • 2 cups blackberries or other berries, fresh or frozen
  • 10 prunes, finely chopped
  • 1 small apple; peeled, cored and diced
  • 2 tablespoons maple syrup or honey
  • Squeeze of lemon juice


  • Combine all the ingredients in a saucepan and heat gently over a low heat. Cook, uncovered until the fruit and prunes are soft and the jam has thickened. About 20 minutes.
  • Mash any larger lumps with the back of a spoon, check the taste, adding extra sweetener if needed. Pour into a clean 300ml jar, cool, then store in the fridge. Consume within two weeks.

Just when I think there is a reprieve in the summer produce harvest, I walk down a different garden path and discover the blackberries are ripening early.

I haven’t seen anything quite like it this season. These thornless blackberries are always a wonderful producer, but this season I predict the harvest will be double that of previous years.

Don’t get me wrong, I love gathering produce, but sometimes it is a struggle to keep up. The combination of higher temperatures in the early season and the perfect amount of rain has resulted in a record summer. Everything is early by at least a month.

The children are back at school and so the lunchbox routine returns. Even as a foodie this is something I don’t always find the most exciting task. Maybe it is the monotony of it, and the polarising likes and dislikes of each child. But the inclusion of home baking is a mainstay, and this recipe has morphed in the making to satisfy each child’s tastes.

Apricot jam would also work well, as would the addition of chopped nuts if your school allows it – I have included a variation in the recipe for this reason.


Join the Conversation

  1. Faye Rhodes says:

    This looks delicious! I have a glut of peaches at the moment – do you think I could follow the same jam recipe with peaches? I’m wondering whether to give it a go?!

    1. Hi Faye, you will need fleshy peaches to make this jam successfully, otherwise you will find it will be very watery and won’t cook down.
      We have a Wiggins peach that are incredibly juicy, so the best ‘preserving’ solution I have found is to cut them into thin wedges then freeze on a tray. Once frozen I free-flow them in a bag that the kids enjoy as a frozen snack. And most delicious added to a smoothie in place of frozen banana. Otherwise I haven’t found a way to preserve super juicy fruits without ending up with a watery mass in the jar.

      1. Rachel Bull says:

        Have you tried dehydrating the watery peaches? I’m new to dehydrating and am amazed that’s its possible with so many fruit, veg and herb options.

        1. Hi Rachel, thanks for your query. I have dehydrated juicy peaches and other fruit but I do find they take quite a bit longer than more firm-fleshed fruits. Making into a compote with apple or even adding chia seeds to thicken and then dehydrate into fruit leather is a good option for juicy fruit. Enjoy!

  2. Faye Rhodes says:

    Hmmm…Nicola, I’m just browsing your site and I see that you have peaches too and they can be watery when preserved. I have a feeling that my peaches may well be the same variety as yours? So perhaps not the best for preserving?

  3. Do you need to make the jam? I am feeling lazy and dont have prunes. Do you think it would work with half cup of stewed blackberries instead. Is it ideally just a 1/2 cup of fruit? Thankyou!

    1. Hi Danielle, you can use any jam in these bars. Stewed berries by themselves would be to watery as the prunes act to absorb some of the cooking liquid. You can use dates too or even chia seeds to thicken the fruit and add honey to taste. I haven’t tried this myself so keep in mind the texture of the mix should be quite thick so you have press it into the tin. I hope that helps!

      1. Thanks Nicola, I made chia jam and it was a success! I added a bit more honey because the jam was quite tart and used cacao nibs because they were handy. Thanks so much, your recipes never fail to impress!

        1. Perfect, I love that you could add your own touch to this recipe 🙂

  4. Thanks a lot for the article post.Much thanks again. Fantastic.

  5. Congrats on the award Nic, you deserve it! xxx

    1. Thanks Nadia! See you soon xx

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Nicola Galloway Homegrown Kitchen © Copyright 2023. All rights reserved.