These bars were born from the desire to have a healthy mid-day or trail-side snack that packs lots of nutrients, good taste, a little sweetness and nice texture, minus all the fillers, strange ingredients, massive sugar dose and preservatives. They are a work in progress: there are so many variables to be tweaked for different flavors and textures (as with my granola recipe).
Granola bars used to be associated with the health food movement. Now, most of them have so many ingredients, soy and corn products, sugar and preservatives that they are not actually healthy. And they are a hit to the wallet. These certainly do not store as well as a processed and packaged granola bar (a week in the fridge), but you can freeze them and take them out incrementally -- I like to take one out in the morning and pack it in my lunch bag for later in the day. They are pretty good straight out of the freezer, too!
Serious Energy Bars (vegan, gluten-free)
1 1/4 cup rolled oats (for gluten-free, make sure your oats are labeled gluten-free)
1/2 cup almond butter
2 ripe bananas, mashed
1/2 cup sliced almonds
1/2 cup mixed dried fruit of your choice, chopped (used here: raisins, apricots)
1/4 cup seeds (used here: part sunflower, part pumpkin)
1/2 cup chocolate chips (optional -- if you want a bit more for your sweet tooth)
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 Tablespoon honey, maple syrup or agave syrup
1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
pinch of salt (unless your almond butter is already salted)
1. Heat oven to 350 degrees F.
2. In a medium saucepan, heat the almond butter, bananas and sweetener to a melt-y consistency. The point is to make a mixture that spreads easier: it does not need to boil.
3. Turn off the heat and add the vanilla, salt (if using), cinnamon, almonds, seeds, dried fruit and chocolate chips.
3. Spread the mixture into a 9"x13" greased or parchment-lined baking pan. (I prefer the parchment: line the pan high enough to pull the bars out with the sides of the parchment)
4. Bake for 40 minutes. Let cool entirely before cutting. If you used parchment, you can pull the bars out of the pan to cool on a rack.
5. Store in a sealed container in the fridge for up to a week, or frozen for a couple months.
Enjoy in good health and energy!