Summer time is great for so many things! Amongst all the days of fun and play I like to sneak in a few days in the kitchen to get creative. Usually the rainy days, which here in Florida are quite common in the summer. During the school year I resort to granola bars quite often, not just for the kids but for myself as well. It is an easy to grab snack that packs a ton of nutrition and hold me over until the next meal nicely. The problem is that I can get quite picky with granola bars, it’s usually a whole process to pick the right one at the store. It involves a whole lot of label reading, comparing and then taste testing to find a good one, and not to mention I often spend quite a bit of money.
Long story short: I decided this summer to try out some granola recipes! During the hectic school year with activities and homework I just don’t have the time to experiment as much. Therefore this past weekend I looked through my cookbooks (yes, I actually still have a few paper bound books!) for inspiration. I knew I wanted to make a granola bar rich with fiber, protein and natural sugars as much as possible. As a family we enjoy the sticky kinds much more than the hard dry granola bars, so that’s where I started. Here are the ingredients I picked and why:
Dates- Great for making the “sticky” goodness of the granola bar! Dates are sweet so they eliminate the need to add refined sugar to the recipe. They also are very rich in fiber, iron, potassium and tannins (a polyphenolic antioxidant known to possess anti-infective, anti-inflammatory and anti-hemorrhagic properties). They contain a moderate amount of vitamin A, Calcium, manganese and other antioxidants as well.
Mixed nuts – The nuts added the protein to my bar. Great plant sourced protein and healthy fats, they also some crunch. Choose any combination you would like! They can be roasted or raw, whatever you prefer.
Honey – My favorite natural sweetener! It’s sweeter than table sugar therefore you need less, and it has vitamins too such as vitamin B6, thiamin, niacin, riboflavin and antioxidants.
Oats – They provide the bulk of the recipe but also add to the fiber content of the bar. They have a unique antioxidant profile, which combined with their high fiber content makes oats a heart friendly food!
Dark Chocolate Chips – Well… what can I say, I love chocolate! By choosing a chocolate chip that is over 60% cacao I can eliminate some excess sugar. Dark Chocolate is a good source of antioxidants, fiber, copper, iron, magnesium and manganese.
Lightly Roasted Almond Butter – Definitely what made this bar so scrumptious! The flavor of the lightly roasted almond butter just set this bar apart from the other recipes I’ve tried before. It adds protein and it has a very heart friendly fat profile with unsaturated fatty acids and lots of fiber as well! Not to mention it is rich in vitamin E, magnesium, calcium and cooper too.
Creating this recipe was fun but it did take me a few trials to achieve the “finger licking” sticky point for my taste. You can substitute or add any ingredient you’d like to make it your own, the secret is keeping the oats, dates and almond butter measures consistent. My next recipe will skip the chocolate chips and add coconut flakes! It was quick to prepare, didn’t require any baking and a sure keeper for when we return to our busy schedules! And you know they are a success when the kids are asking to trade their popsicles for more granola bars.
…. Enjoy your time in the kitchen,
Sticky Almond Granola Bars
serves up to 10 people
1 cup of dates – pitted (if you use dried dates, rehydrate them in ¼ cup warm
water for 30 minutes)
¼ cup Once Again honey
¼ cup Once Again Nut Butter Lightly Roasted Almond butter
½ cup Mixed Nuts (of your choice! Raw or toasted)
1 ½ cup oats
¼ cup dark chocolate chips
Place dates in food processor and mix until puree. Add it to a large mixing bowl with oats, nuts and chocolate chips. Lastly add the honey and almond butter and stir it quickly. It helps if you slightly warm the honey and almond butter over the stovetop. Then place it in 9×9 (or 8×8 for thicker) pan lined with parchment paper and flattened evenly. Place it in the freezer for 15-20 minutes to set, then cut into 10-12 bars. Keep them in airtight container in fridge or you may freeze them too!