Monday, May 2, 2016

(good for you) granola bars

last summer, my friend kristen sent me her favourite recipe for granola bars. i know- those of you reading this you are probably thinking one of two things. either 'meh- granola bars. take it or leave it.' or 'meh- granola bars. full of sugar masquerading as a 'healthy snack''.

let me start by saying that these granola bars are neither of those things- these granola bars are FULL of good, wholesome ingredients you will actually want you and your kids consuming. chewy with a bit of crunch, this gluten-free, refined sugar-free, no-bake vegan bar is snack perfection. AND they seriously taste AMAZING! i CRAVE them, (and i am not a granola bar person.)

it took me some time before i actually got around to making these- mostly because the ingredient list is a lengthy one, so procuring everything (and then instructing the other members of my household NOT to add everything to their smoothies!) was a continual work in progress, but once i finally made them, it was like our entire world changed. these are seriously delicious! i most recently made a batch for finn to take to school to share with his classmates on his birthday, and everyone LOVED them! (and his teacher was appreciative of the no-sugar factor).

:: classic granola bars :: 
recipe slightly adapted recipe from the 'oh she glows' cookbook
small note- i always double the recipe because 1) they will get eaten. quickly, and 2) a doubled recipe fits into a large baking sheet just perfectly. enjoy!

1 1/2 cups gluten-free rolled oats
1 1/4 cup crisp rice cereal (i use organic puffed brown rice)
1/4 cup hemp seeds
1/4 cup ground flax seeds
1/4 cup unsweetened shredded coconut
2 tablespoons sesame seeds
2 tablespoons chia seeds
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon fine-grain sea salt
1/2 cup plus 1 tablespoon brown rice syrup
1/4 cup of nut or seed butter (natural peanut butter is my absolute favourite, but almond butter is also amazing or a slightly sweetened sunflower seed butter worked perfectly for a nut-free/ school-friendly option.)
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
optional additions: 1/4 cup mini non-dairy/ dark chocolate chips, cranberrys, chopped nuts... 

line 9-inch square pan with parchment paper and set aside. (if doubling the recipe, line a large baking sheet.)
in a large bowl, mix together oats, crisp rice, hemp seeds, ground flax, coconut, sesame seeds, chia seeds, cinnamon, and salt.
in small saucepan, stir brown rice syrup and nut/seed butter together. cook over medium heat until mixture softens and bubbles around edges. remove from heat and stir in vanilla.
pour nut butter mixture over oat mixture, using a spatula to scrape every last drip of it out of the pot.
stir together well with large metal spoon until all of the oat mixture is coated in nut butter mixture.
if you decide to use chocolate chips, let mixture cool a little before folding them in to keep from melting. (though the first time i did this, i did not wait, and some of the chocolate melted and mixed throughout which was actually quite nice.)
transfer mixture to prepared pan and spread it out evenly. using spatula, press down the mixture firmly to compact. the harder you press and more evenly you spread the mixture and the better the bars hold together. you can use your fingers dipped in cold water to help press down the edges OR if you are using a baking sheet, a rolling pin (or large glass jar used as a rolling pin) spreads and compacts the mixture so perfectly!
place dish or tray in the freezer and chill for 10 -15 minutes, until firm. or if you have more time on your hands, you can put them in the fridge and cut them whenever you are ready.
using the parchment paper as handles, lift the mixture out of the pan and place on cutting board.
slice into 5 or 6 rows using pizza roller or large knife, and then slice them in half or thirds for desired bar size.
the recipe says to wrap them individually in plastic wrap and store them in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 2 weeks or to freeze for up to 1 month, but i skip this step as i think it's time consuming and wasteful. i usually just put one container in the fridge and one in the freezer with a layer of parchment or wax paper between each layer of bars. they also keep for longer than two weeks in the fridge and longer than a month in the freezer (if by some miracle you happen to get them to stick around that long.)