I will admit it, sometimes it might be easier to grab a box of granola bars off the shelf at the grocery store. They are easy to open, eat, and to throw into the lunch bag when you’re in need of a snack. However, there are some negatives that I think highly outweigh this convenience. Last time I looked at the store the price tag alone was 3.99 to 6.99 a box depending on the brand you got. To me that price seems a little high, especially for the quality of food you are receiving.
On the standard box of granola bars there are so many ingredients I cannot even begin to pronounce, as well as the fact that many are just cleverly disguised candy bars. If I was looking for a candy bar, I would go find myself a high quality Belgium or German chocolate treat.
Not to be discouraged, you can make your own bars at home and they are actually quite easy to make. There are millions of recipes across the web that advertise themselves as healthy versions to the store bought alternatives. Just be careful when reading the list of ingredients to ensure the nutritional value suits your dietary needs. I prefer to stay away from those with added refined sugar. That’s not to say mine are sugar free by any standards but they receive their sweetness from fruit and raw local honey.
Clean Fruit & Nut Oatmeal Bars(serves 6-8)
-Roughly, 1 1/2 cups of rolled oats
-1/3 cup pecan pieces (chopped)
-1/3 cup sliced almonds
-2 tsp golden flax seeds
-1/4 cup unsweetened coconut
-3/4 cup dried dates (soaked in warm water for about 5 minutes to soften)
-1/3 cup apricots (chopped)
-1/4 cup honey
-1/4 cup almond butter
-2 tsp coconut oil
1.Take your 3/4 cup of dried dates and place in a bowl with warm water (about 1 cup). These should soak for about 5 minutes.
2. Heat a large frying pan on medium high heat and spray lightly with cooking oil of choice.
3. Combine the oats, nuts, seeds and coconut in the frying pan and stir for about 3-5 minutes until toasted. (timing will depend on your stove but once you are seeing a light golden color you are done). Remove from heat and set aside.
4. Remove your dates from the water, reserving 1/4 cup of the water and place in a food processes. Process until a rough paste forms. Remove from processor and place in a large mixing bowl.
5. Add chopped apricots and the oats, nuts, seeds, and coconut to the large mixing bowl containing the dates. Stir to evenly distribute the fruit and nuts.
6. Heat a small frying pan on medium heat. Add the almond butter, honey and coconut oil to the pan and mix until evenly combined, about 3 minutes.
7. Remove the pan from heat and pour the mixture into the bowl containing all other ingredients. Mix until everything has been combined.
8. Line an 8×8, 8×9, or 11×7 pan with parchment paper (the size pan you use will determine how thick your bars will be). I used an 11 x7 pan for this recipe because I prefer my bars to be on the thinner side.
9. Spread the mixture evenly into the pan, pressing firmly down. You really want all the ingredients to stick together. I’ve heard some people will take another piece of parchment paper, lie it on top and press firmly down. I don’t generally use a second piece and the bars still hold together fine, but if you are having trouble it is a helpful tool.
10. Saran wrap the top of the baking dishes an place in the fridge for 1-2 hours. At this point they will be firm enough to cut. At this point it is easy to wrap them individual in saran wrap or place them with parchment paper in between in a larger container.
I recommend storing the bars in the fridge and taking them out as needed. You can also freeze if you decide to make several batches at once. They should last for up to two weeks in the fridge.
You can substitute any of the nuts or fruit in this recipe for personal favorites or even use cocoa nibs. Those would be fantastic and will probably be in my next batch. Have fun, be creative and be clean!
As always eat healthy stay fit,